By Justin, Stefan and Ursula |
TransArc II *) – this means for us – 55 scientists and 43 crew members – for the coming two months an expedition right across the Arctic Ocean with the German research ice breaker Polarstern. We want to track the climate change, which is so very prominent in the Arctic Ocean with its drastic sea ice reduction. But how has the sea ice reduction developed recently? Is it speeding up or slowing down? Moreover, why is sea ice decreasing at all? Does the ocean warming play a role? And, is the Arctic Ocean currently warming, and if so: why? Is ocean warming (and, by the way, also freshening) related to changing ocean currents? Will the changing currents lead to redistribution of substances in the water, such as nutrients, particles, plankton? What are the consequences of all these changes for organisms that live in the water, at the sea floor, in, on and under the decreasing sea ice? We will be international experts from 10 countries on board who are eager to find answers to all these questions. We will measure around the clock and take samples, discuss our findings and come to new emerging questions. But now it’s time to get started!
Arriving at Polarstern on the morning of August 17 the excitement is palpable, everyone stops for a quick look at the ship from the dock and appraises their home for the next two months. For some it is a familiar and welcome sight and for others, myself (Justin, technician in the AWI Sea Ice Physics) included, it is all new.
The first day is filled with finding one’s room and lab space, packing and unpacking containers, preparing sampling equipment, meeting the science team and crew, and discovering the rules of the ship. After a few hours the ship leaves the dock and heads north away from Tromsø through beautiful fjords bathed in spectacular evening light.
The packing, unpacking, and preparation of equipment and laboratories continues on August 18; with 55 scientists belonging to the various teams and research programs, there is a lot of equipment. Over the course of the day, and likely the next, the equipment is shuffled around until all the teams are set up and have the equipment they need available. Equipment needed only later is stored again to make room to work.
At the time of writing, we are approaching the first CTD (Conductivity, Temperature, Depth) station where we will measure the saltiness, temperature and depth of the water, with this TransArc II gets fully underway.
Justin, Stefan and Ursula
*) TransArc II stands for “Trans-Arctic Survey of the Arctic Ocean in Transition”