December 19, 2019

Postcards from a frozen icebreaker – Part 17

Posted by larryohanlon

By Matthew Shupe

12/6/19 What a Day

Every day is packed full of hard work and many activities, but sometimes there are very busy days. Like today. Here is a day in the life out here. Wake as late as possible, about 7:45, peel myself out of bed, sleep still in my eyes, pull some clothes on and a hat to cover my scraggly hair. Breakfast on autopilot (it is the same every day so no need to think too much). By the end of eating breakfast, I’m now pretty awake.

Wait for the captain to leave breakfast because he and I are going to the same meeting, and it won’t start without him. That meeting is the morning weather presentation and flight planning discussion at 8:15. Then, after that, in for the tag up planning meeting at 8:30, to understand if the plans we made last night are still viable for today and to discuss any necessary changes. From this meeting it is time to brush teeth and get ready to go out on the ice.

9 o’clock data on the working deck, fully dressed in cold weather gear and with all equipment prepared. Then it is a walk, pulling a pulka full of gear, out to Met City. The walk is nice today, skirting the new ridge, finding a new path. On site, there is a variety of work to be done. Checking on the operation of various systems, obtaining some data from others, level some radiometers here, clear some drifted snow there. And today, it was take a bunch of pictures as we are now working on handover documents for the next crew that is on the way for Leg 2.

OnceMet City was wrapped up, walk back to the ship and head directly in for lunch (three versions of potatoes today). And then directly out to our lab container to do my routine checks on yesterday’s data coming from our remote sites. This ran directly up until 14:00 when I needed to get dressed again in cold weather gear and meet at the helicopter deck for an afternoon flight.

First, out to our L2 site, where we needed to fix one instrument that didn’t get totally fixed on our flight last week, and to check a few other details. Done, and done. Nice when the instrumental issue is simply a blown fuse (those are the easy ones).

Then back in the helicopter for a brief swapping of the landing lights then a flight over to L3. Routine maintenance, pulling the data, and evaluating a sensor that has gone a bit haywire. Sure enough, part of the sensor protection had fallen off, somehow in the high winds I guess. The measurements never really came in great so we decided to swap the sensor for a spare….. Lots of little nuts and bolts equals cold fingers. It is inevitable. But with a little management, it works out ok. New instrument installed, the data looks good. Then button up the station again. Helicopter lands, brings the new fuel jug and we plug it in.

Changing landing lights in November. Photo: Alfred-Wegener-Institut / Stefan Hendricks (CC-BY 4).

Then a quick landing light swap, and back in the helicopter, fly over the L1 and just swap the landing lights, then back to Polarstern. Just in time to put our cargo away and catch the last 15 minutes of dinner. Stuff face. Then hurry to get to the 6:30 all hands meeting. Planning for the next day and other details. Then on to the Project Board meeting at 7:00, where we discussed various issues about coordination, de-conflicting activities, etc. Long meeting bringing us to 7:45.

Then let’s keep this day rolling…. Back to the lab container to enter logs for the helicopter missions, upload and archive the data, calculate fuel consumption, check for data quality. And get ready for another helicopter mission tomorrow, make sure the tool box is ready and we have our check list of gear and objectives. Lights charged. Fuel jug ready. This gets us to about 10:00pm. For a bit of checking in on email and other details…..

Wow, what an exhausting day. But it feels very good to get so much done. Really checking things off the list we need to finish before the next crew arrives in a few days.

Polar bear guard Trude Hohle gets ready to go outside. Getting dressed for -25C temperatures is a long procedure. Photo: Alfred-Wegener-Institut / Esther Horvath (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.