December 23, 2019

Postcards from a frozen icebreaker — Part 21

Posted by larryohanlon

By Matthew Shupe

12/17/19 Handing the Torch

Possibly our last day today. We did some ATMOS team photos. The Leg 1 crew. The joint crew. And then the Leg 2 crew. We’ve handed the torch and now will be eager fans waiting to hear information from the field. I’m feeling this cavity starting to form inside my chest. Already feeling a sense of loss, a sense of melancholy. Am I happy to go home? Perhaps. Would I prefer to stay? Perhaps. Nothing feels that settled at the moment, not internally in my mind. It is tough to walk away. Today I watched from the bridge as a team raced out to the ROV tent, to rescue it from the crack that was forming right beneath it…. A bit of the inner urge to pull on the gear and head out, but in the end, it is not my problem any longer. I felt oddly detached. Also, one last chance to head out to Met City today. I was the bear guard for the new team as they went through their daily checks. I sat back and watched, not much feedback. But is it not me doing those things anymore. Melancholy. Strange how this whole adventure started out that way as well. Certainly a different melancholy at that time, but a related feeling nonetheless. Some part loss, some part nervousness, and I guess also some part exhaustion. I slept 9+ hours last night. Yet even having a very full night’s sleep, I’m still exhausted. I’m feeling all of these different levels of soreness coming to the surface; I guess this ride back home will be a chance to work out the ingrained issues. The deep tired. The sore body. The internal challenges that arise from this process of working together in close quarters with so many people. The lack of reference to time-of-day or day-of-week. There is such a long ways to go, both literally and figuratively, before getting home and being able to re-integrate into a normal life back in Colorado.

The two ships together for the exchange. Photo: Alfred-Wegener-Institut / Esther Horvath and Jakob Stark (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.