December 20, 2019

Postcards from a frozen icebreaker – Part 18

Posted by larryohanlon

By Matthew Shupe

12/8/19 Getting Down to the End

Wow what a blitz it has been around here lately. Seems that time is accelerating as the Dranitsyn cruises towards us with the Leg 2 group of scientists and crew. They are ready, I’m sure. But it seems that we are not yet ready to hand everything off to them. So many last minute details to finish. We’ve had to fix instruments, re-deploy systems, document everything, upload data, clean. So much to get done in order to feel good about setting Leg 2 up for success. I am sure it will not all get done, but these days are full with trying.

The aurora seen from the Russian Kapitan Dranitsyn, as it leaves Norway. Photo: Michael Gallagher, CIRES and NOAA

12/9/19 Tower Climb

It is perhaps my last tower climb while being here on Leg 1. Some days ago I had climbed our tower in modest winds to pull down a met sensor that needed to be swapped out (it was needed for elsewhere). And in the process, we wanted to compare met sensors from different heights. So we re-installed the new sensor but put it at the 2m height to compare with our other instrument there for some days. But this needed to go back up to the 6m height. Today was pretty windy, and that wind bites hard. Holding this boom up to the tower and then attaching it with a bunch of U-bolts. This requires nimble and dexterous hands, my thin silk glove liners. I could get one or two nuts screwed on and then had to stuff my hand back into my glove to get it a bit warmer. Then back for another nut. All the while, everything is cooling down. I feel my feet getting colder as they stand on the steel tower rungs. My fingers get slightly warmer when inside my gloves, but never really warm….. and with each successive activity, they slip deeper and deeper into cold. Starting to lose the dexterity a bit, so that gets challenging. I completed the job and started dressing the cables on the way down the tower, but then had to get down and warm up. One of those times when the fingers are really aching as they thaw out. This was one of the deepest colds I’ve experienced thus far at MOSAiC…. But a little heat inside the Met Hut (and a bit of jumping around as the thawing ache really hurt!) and things were back and regulated. Ready to head back outside and finish the cabling, etc. Check another activity off the list. I’m glad the Leg 2 people don’t have to take care of that.

Group picture of the MOSAiC Leg 1 science team with Capitan Schwarze on the MOSAiC ice floe. We are preparing for the arrival of the Captain Dranitsyn supply vessel and for the handover of scientific research and logistics for the next leg. 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.