October 20, 2019

Postcards from a frozen icebreaker – Part 5

Posted by larryohanlon

By Matthew Shupe

10/6/19 Met City

Today I took a team out to Met City area for a bit of group brainstorming on how to install the site. A bunch of ice thickness measurements later and I think we’ve found a slim path on how we can get all of our different installations fitted into a limited and challenging space. Using the maps and some other surveys, I think we have a good idea of where the frozen melt ponds are, and I’m operating on the assumption that these will be where the ponds preferentially start to form in the summer. Thus, we are trying to avoid those areas as best we can, sticking to the hummocks for most equipment, and putting the heavy stuff on the outer wall of the Fortress. The met hut will be tucked up against a big plate of ice the is jutting up a couple meters into the air. This may cause a drifting challenge, but there is not much else to do. Many trade offs, but we’ll do our best to make this work.

Power supply from the sky: One of the helicopters transported the “Ocean City” hub onto the floe. This is only one component of our complex research camp which grows day after day. Photo: Alfred-Wegener-Institut / Stefan Hendricks (CC-BY 4).

10/7/19 A Day on the Ice

Long day…. But big progress. Marcel and I flagged the planned power line path out to all of the major installations. Then, with such a beautiful day, we took the opportunity to use the helicopter to sling load some large power hubs out to the key “cities.” These are 700-kg beasts! I can’t really believe we are sticking these on the ice, so they will be going on stable, thick-ridged areas. Fortunately we can brute force them around a bit, as they are installed on top of 3 snowboards…… Pretty amazing to see a helicopter lifting such a load, swinging through the air.

After this mission we were back onboard at 3:30, but with so much to do and a nice day, I pushed for more. Assembled a team of 7 to go out and fix the 700m-road out to Met City…. Picks, shovels, and a bit of sweat (not too much!). Many hands make quick work…. And people are itching to get off the ship. Over the last few days, our colleagues on Federov have been cranking away at installing the MOSAIC distributed network. We’ve had a few communication and instrument issues, but somehow these are getting sorted out. Chris is a wiz and this stuff, and is able to log in from one station to the next to fix issues that arise, and Dave has been working diligently on this end to sort out communications issues and ensure that we have the right programs on this end to pull our data home. Big progress on our issues tonight, and I things are headed in the right direction. MOSAiC is starting to come together.

A crack or “lead” in the ice. Alfred-Wegener-Institut / Sebastian Grote (CC-BY 4).

Read more of Shupe’s posts here

Scientist Matthew Shupe (CIRES/University of Colorado Boulder) is blogging from an icebreaker frozen into Arctic Ocean sea ice, so far north that the Northern Lights are no longer visible. Shupe is co-coordinator of the international Arctic climate mission MOSAiC, or Multidisciplinary Drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate. Today, he’s among about 100 people aboard the German icebreaker Polarstern, which is frozen into an ice floe where it will drift until September 2020. Shupe, who also works for the NOAA Physical Sciences Division in Boulder, Colorado, began planning the mission more than a decade ago, with an expanding network of scientific leaders from around the world. In a series of short posts from the ship, he shares his experience during the first several weeks of the expedition, led by the Alfred Wegener Institute. Shupe is aboard AWI’s Polarstern until late December; he’ll return to the ship for at least one more two-month stint next year. U.S. funding for MOSAiC sciences comes primarily from the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy. Follow the expedition: https://follow.mosaic-expedition.org/ and @MOSAiCArctic.