By Núria Casacuberta Arola and Viena Puigcorbé Lacueva |
It is now more than 10 days since we left Tromsø, and during this time Polarstern became the city that never sleeps. Let’s imagine a small New York City sailing through the ice towards the North Pole. For example, the corridor that communicates the CTD/Rosette to the different laboratories is the 5th Avenue; and the bridge would represent the Empire State building, from where one can get an overview of the white and cold landscape around us. Capitalism on Polarstern is not based on money, but on the water samples to be collected. The Wall Street is placed in the control room where CTDs are deployed. Scientists “negotiate” which samples they want to take, and the different bottles of the CTD/Rosette will collect the requested amounts of water at the wished depths. When the rosette arrives on deck with the new stock of samples, the 5th Avenue gets crowded of scientists and crew members running up and down with bottles, boxes, reagents and pipettes. Scientists “buy” different kinds of water samples depending on the parameters they want to analyze. Some of them prefer shallow waters, others want water from the whole water column (4000 meters), some need only a few milliliters, and there are also the most needy ones that request for 20 liters. Laboratories run 24 hours, processing and analyzing the samples and getting ready for the next station. On Tuesday 25th August, the first ice station has been reached and all scientists could leave Manhattan through the Brooklyn Bridge and access the big platform of ice around us. In Brooklyn, the market offers ice-cores, melt-pond waters and albedo, sea-ice thickness measurements.
But crowded hours are compensated with some free time. People meet in Times Square, here called the Red Saloon, where delicious cakes are baked for the 3:30 pm coffee-break. The Central Park of Polarstern is located in the F deck, where a small swimming pool and a gym are available for those who want to burn the extra calories of the cake, or simply want to disconnect from the busy hours in the lab. Three times per week the Broadway Avenue offers the best (and only) bar of the ship: the Zillertal. The bar is open from 8 pm to 1 am, and two scientists volunteer each evening to serve drinks. And in between, there is always some time to go and visit The MoMA, or Blue Saloon, where the pictures hanged on the walls reflect the 33 years of Polarstern’s life.
There is one big difference between Polarstern and New York City, and this is the permanent sunlight, so characteristic from northern latitudes in summer. One goes from the dark and small bar Zillertal, directly to the bright and sunny cabins where we sleep and rest, even if only for a few hours.