July 15, 2020
By Matthew Shupe
6/16/20 7 Weeks
It’s been a 7-week journey to this point. Perhaps we can call it a commute. But now we are finally at our MOSAiC ice floe. I can see it with my own eyes. Some orange flags here and there with various installations around. I’m still trying to get oriented, but I’m sure it is our stuff out there.
What does it feel like to be back? Probably the first feeling is relief, after such a long journey to finally get here. After these 7 weeks we can finally stop the transitory phase and actually get back to implementing our science. Also, somewhat excited. There hasn’t been much to be excited about lately, but the through of stepping off the ship onto our floe again is very exciting. Time to get after it once again. We’ve been busily planning our coming moves. How will we modify the set up to be lighter on the ice and more nimble. We are working through plans for power lines and distribution hubs, modified to add flotation. Optimizing the plans to eliminate infrastructure where possible. Squeezing down the scale of our activities because we will likely need to share a smaller space across may different projects and scientific needs.
Strange to be going through this “planning the set up” process again. This time with fewer of the people that have been involved in the planning for a long time. We got a chance to correct some of the issues from last time, but pretty much have the same set of equipment. It’s time to get a little creative. And this time a new challenge. While back in October we were racing the setting sun. This time we are racing the melting snow and ice. The more this melt season progresses the more challenging it will be to operate on the surface. Slushy and wet conditions will make it hard to haul equipment and establish the basic infrastructure. If it is not one thing it is something else; always a challenge out here in the Arctic.
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. 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 of the expedition, led by the Alfred Wegener Institute. 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.