This Tuesday May 19th, the R/V Polarstern departed Bremerhaven port with 51 scientists from 11 countries who will investigate the effects for climate change in the Arctic Ocean. The cruise is called TRANSSIZ which stands for ‘Transitions in the Seasonal Ice Zone’. Before actually taking off, families and friends had the opportunity to tour the vessel – it sure was hard to give to a tour having never been onboard the ship before. It took several hours for everyone to board the ship and wait for high tide, but we finally set sail early afternoon. Despite heavy rains, most of us stood on deck to wave goodbye to family and friends, and to land. Then was the time to get settled and meet the new family for the six week cruise. During the afternoon, fortunately the weather calmed down, which really helped with unpacking and making use of all available space in the cabins for our personal gear. So far smooth sailing has allowed people to get used to the rocking of the ship and to have orientation and safety instructions to the ship, as well as meeting the commanding officers.
Now we are heading north towards the sea-ice edge, which we will reach early next week. At the moment we are busy unpacking our boxes, setting up labs, and preparing for measurements and collecting samples. The work we are going to do during the next weeks is led by members of Arctic in Rapid Transition (ART) network, which is an initiative of early career scientists doing research in the Arctic Ocean. We aim to carry out joint research from different scientific fields to determine how earlier seasonal melting of Arctic sea ice influences the distribution of nutrients and algae growth, and how this may impact animals living in the water column and on the sea floor, linking past and present sea-ice conditions in the Arctic Ocean.
The authors L-R Shannon MacPhee, Kirstin Werner and Meri Korhonen are all first timers on the R/V Polarstern. They are going to be Friday’s bloggers from the TRANSSIZ expedition – accompanied by two other teams posting during the next six weeks.