November 27, 2019

Postcards from a frozen icebreaker – Part 14

Posted by larryohanlon

By Matthew Shupe

11/18/19 Fallen

I was startled by the phone call shortly after midnight. Trouble at Met City. Felix had just arrived on the bridge for his night watch from 12-4am. He always takes a look around camp when arriving for his duties. And there was no 30m mast. Simply gone. So I was roused from my sleep to check on things. We had seen the crack before, and apparently it got active and pulled on some of the guy lines, ultimately pulling the mast down. Ian’s [Ian Brooks, University of Leeds] sonic anemometer failed right away, possibly from just being unplugged. Upon later inspection it is bent, can likely be straightened, re-calibrated, and put back into operation. Our met sensor remained operational the whole time, including on the surface after the fall. We will test both of these instruments against others, but it is looking like they will both live to see another field measurement. The mast itself might also be salvageable. Some bent legs that the ship can likely fix, and a few damaged sections that will just be taken out of service. Thus, it may become a 25m mast, but that would be better than nothing. Now we just need the ice to settle down so we can think about a redeployment.

After the storm, people made a bridge across a lead that opened between Ocean City and Remote Sensing Site. Alfred-Wegener-Institut / Stefan Hendricks (CC-BY 4)

11/22/19 Where is Wednesday?

The days fly by quickly now. The end of this leg is in sight and there is still so much to do and re-do! So it seems that the time speeds up. And the chaos has contributed to this feeling as well. Major ice dynamics running from the northwest to the southeast of us, across the bow of the ship. They have sheared our camp, and the Fortress, in half. This was part of a regional event with lots of ice motion, likely driven by a strong storm with very high winds. Initially the lead opened many meters across, then some shear with the far side of camp moving towards the ship, then away again. In the last days it all moved again…. Perhaps 500m. And now the Met City is almost directly in front of Polarstern, while Ocean City remains approximately where it was (just a slight move to stay away from the ridge). A much longer daily voyage for us to get to Met City, and now it means bringing fuel cans to run generators. Met City is now very dark.

his is the map of our central observatory, which was accurate until to the end of the storm. Now there is a crack with Met City, Remote Sensing Site, ROV Oasis on one side and Polarstern on the other side. The three scientific stations drifted to the port side of the vessel even after the storm. Our ice camp layout has changed with the ice movements and the setup of our camp will be mapped shortly again. Alfred-Wegener-Institut image.

11/23/19 Science in Bursts

“Continuity” is a very important concept for MOSAiC. But it’s also a huge challenge in the current Arctic conditions. In the last week we’ve had so much ice movement, right out in front of the ship. We watched Met City move back and forth across the view from the bridge. Intermittently we are able to reach it, going from floe to floe. While at other times there is no access possible. And this limited access impacts the continuity of our measurement on the ice. We are running Met City on a couple of generators, but the runtime is such that we must refuel twice per day. So our schedule is to get out there as early and as late as possible during the working window on ice. Last night the ice movement left us no route to Met City, so the generator fan out at 4:30 am local time. This limited access is leaving its mark on the Met City data stream, but others are also impacted. Other sampling sites have move further away or broken up entirely, the Ocean City hut had to be moved, the whole Remote Sensing installation will need to be relocated, and more. Continuity of the observations has definitely been compromised. But there is also opportunity in these same ice dynamics. Many of us are interested in the various processes involved in transferring momentum between the atmosphere-ice-ocean system and understanding how the ice responds. It seems like that response might be a little different from how it once was. Also, in the past days we have been able to sample near a lead with our met tower. This is a fantastic opportunity that we could have never counted on. Lastly, the open water areas are giving people the opportunity to sample fresh new first-year ice. Many like that.

The helicopter leaves for a team ATMOS flight to one of the distributed network sites just before the storm. Alfred-Wegener-Institut / Stefan Hendricks (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: and @MOSAiCArctic.