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18 November 2021

Listening to the voices of killer whales

Hannah Myers has listened to many hours of orca calls in the Gulf of Alaska. The University of Alaska Fairbanks graduate student often knows a killer whale’s family group after hearing just a few syllables of its call.

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19 September 2020

Postcards from a formerly frozen icebreaker: Part 60 — Last Ice

We are now in open water and have left the ice behind. In the last hours we cruised through the last remnants of ice. Little chunks floating alone, their hours numbered out here in the water that is now creeping slightly above the melting point.

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18 September 2020

Postcards from a formerly frozen icebreaker: Part 59

There are many reasons to go out and recover the various assets that we’ve placed out on the ice.  And so this is now our mission with Tryoshnikov; to finish what we’ve started in the past days with Polarstern.

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17 September 2020

Postcards from a formerly frozen icebreaker: Part 58

Sometimes goodbyes are hard. Like this morning. Two ships together, then the lines are reeled in. Subtle movements and a slow parting. The railings of both vessels crowded with people, initially just a few feet apart. Waving. Photos. Crying.

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16 September 2020

Postcards from a formerly frozen icebreaker: Part 57

As with last time, it again felt like an invasion. Today, after the ships were stable alongside each other, we started having some exchange of people. An invasion of new, strange faces…. of different energy. This leg of MOSAiC is really coming to an end now.

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15 September 2020

Postcards from a formerly frozen icebreaker: Part 56

Already starting to miss this place and we are not gone yet! And standing here on the working deck, feeling a bit sentimental, looking out from the side of the ship: A mixture of open water and small chunks of ice floating around as we all sit here embedded in the diminishing ice pack. It is misty and foggy.

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17 August 2020

Postcards from a (formerly) frozen icebreaker: Part 55

Our days lately have been strange. Searching around the ice in dense fog. It’s so hard to see anything, and especially some of these small buoys we’ve been hunting. But today was a beautiful day. Bluebird conditions again. And it started out with a great bear.

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16 August 2020

Postcards from a (formerly) frozen icebreaker: Part 54

With the rapid decline of the MOSAiC floe in its last days, I became increasingly concerned about the stability of the L2 site and our flux sled there. A few weeks ago it was 7 nautical miles away, then over a couple days this ballooned up to 45 nautical miles.

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15 August 2020

Postcards from a (formerly) frozen icebreaker: Part 53

…things were quite different today. Basically no floe left. Instead just a collection of small pieces of ice. Fractured remnants of our home for the past 6.5 weeks. Little memories of Met City, the Transect, the Fortress, and all of the rest. Now all gone. What impeccable timing!

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14 August 2020

White killer whale spotted in Southeast

“There was a collective gasp from everybody on the bow,” Hayes said. They continued to watch the white orca swim with its pod — a family group including three or four others, their color a typical dairy-cow black-and-white. Having studied killer whales during her undergraduate work in British Columbia, Hayes knew they were witnessing something special. “There have only been about eight white killer whales ever recorded in the world,” she said…

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Postcards from a (formerly) frozen icebreaker: Part 52

The decision to pull things back on board was a good one, as the floe is becoming increasingly unstable. I felt the movement myself as I jumped from one chunk to the next. We can no longer operate or realistically move equipment on the ice any more.

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13 August 2020

Postcards from a (formerly) frozen icebreaker: Part 51

Wow? The end of an era. This highly successful relationship we’ve had with the MOSAiC ice floe is now starting to come to an end. It feels strange to me. I’ve actually been in a pretty bad mood because of it. Done too soon.

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12 August 2020

Postcards from a (formerly) frozen icebreaker: Part 50

Captain Wunderlich asked if he could join me on the ice today… perhaps to get some fresh air. So he joined Jackson Osborn and me on our daily walk-about around to our different stations. I decided to show him some of the other great areas on our floe as well. For me, the central part of the Fortress, now the desert scene, is the greatest place to go.

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11 August 2020

Postcards from a (formerly) frozen icebreaker: Part 49

On the far side of the floe is a chunk of old ice, riddled with stones everywhere. I have no idea how there could be so many embedded in the ice. Then the transect loops back around to the First Year Ice side, where the ice is generally thinner and the coastline has eroded significantly over time leading to an ever-evolving interface with the open water. On that side there are some fantastic drainage channels…. Basically rivers that drain a complex network of ponds further inland.

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10 August 2020

Postcards from a (formerly) frozen icebreaker: Part 48

Strange ice crystal formations everywhere, glistening in the sun. Standing there and looking out across the surface I felt like I was in the slickrock of the Utah desert. They have similarly eroded and curved surfaces, with layers and sculptured forms that only nature can create.

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9 August 2020

Postcards from a (formerly) frozen icebreaker: Part 47

It’s getting hard to keep track as there have been so many bears lately. Visits in the evening-to-early-morning going into last Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Then here again last night (Monday). And this morning at 4:30 am.

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8 August 2020

Postcards from a (formerly) frozen icebreaker: Part 46

The real highlight of the evening for me was the group photo time prior to the festivities. We set up a line of flags, the 20 flags of MOSAiC nations, all strung next to each other. This was placed just beyond a scenic melt pond. In front of that pond we put the big MOSAiC flag, held tight on some boards.

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6 August 2020

Postcards from a (formerly) frozen icebreaker: Part 44

Flying out over this diverse ice pack. One thing that struck me about the flight was the number of dirty ice floes. There are many others like our floe, and some that are much dirtier, black and gray.

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5 August 2020

Postcards from a (formerly) frozen icebreaker: Part 43

Last week there would be periods of the day when melt was rampant, but then periods when the surface would freeze. Thin layers of ice would form on the top of melt ponds. That phenomenon has shifted now and we are not really seeing major shifts during the day anymore; the system appears to be mostly in a permanent melt state.

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4 August 2020

Postcards from a (formerly) frozen icebreaker: Part 42

The many faces of ice. So fascinating. Today I found myself sitting on the surface, digging through little pockets of this ice and that ice. Exploring their different textures and sounds. And tastes (mostly fresh!).

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