September 16, 2020
By Matthew Shupe
8/10/20 Handover / Invasion
As with last time, it again felt like an invasion. Today, after the ships were stable alongside each other, we started having some exchange of people. An invasion of new, strange faces…. of different energy. This leg of MOSAiC is really coming to an end now.
Discussions about what to do and where to go next. I sat in a meeting with the incoming team of leaders. The new ones brought ideas, those continuing on had other ideas, as the discussion proceeded the energy rose…. Clearly some anxiety as the different ideas were put on the table. But then a few of us helped to bring the discussion in a productive direction by getting to the essence of the goals…. And in the end it was clear that most around the table shared the same set of objectives. The basic decision then just would have to come down to some practicalities and logistics. This seemed to help and diffuse the anxiety somewhat.
With the original MOSAiC floe now being history, how can we maximize this final leg towards achieving the MOSAiC science goals? All agreed that we need to capture the freeze onset and that we want to maximize the length of the timeseries at the new floe. This means both getting to the new position as quickly as possible and also being in a position in late September that allows for a clear and quantifiable exit from the ice. The ship has a deadline for being back in Germany but we want to stay in the field as long as possible, so having a clear understanding of the true amount of time it will take to get back is important.
With this meeting I began to feel myself moving backwards. Everyone else around the table was venturing onward and so it is time to hand the baton. I am still co-coordinator of the overall MOSAiC concept…. But now it is up to this team to implement the last stage of the field operations.
During the day we had other handover, but with my team this was not a major challenge as Ola and Michael have been here before; they know the deal and everything will be in good hands. Still, the process was exhausting and it certainly disturbed the energy onboard. A ripple in the force. And to hold onto the last bits of our Leg 4 vibe, many of us had a nice “blob” in the blue saloon. Relaxing together. A little stretching. Some crafting. A few drinks and a lot of snacks (I’m not sure how Alli still has homemade dried fruits!). Such a nice energy we’ve created here during the MOSAiC melt season. A camaraderie that I’ve not really experienced at this scale. Diverse people with all kinds of backgrounds, but such resonance. The “huggy” Leg 4. We hold on to the last minutes of it here on Polarstern.
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.