Going with the floe

Leg 6 is well on its way. The crew shift went as clockwork with the Superpuma and its competent crew.

Sea ice thickness measurements along long transects in the area around Lance.

Sea ice thickness measurements along long transects in the area around Lance.
Photo: Marcel Nicolaus / Alfred Wegener Institutt

Flying conditions was superb and we met the first ice at N80 27 and when reaching N80 40 it was dens ice consisting of large floes. During the last day the scientist and crew of Lance had already established the research camp with almost all instruments installed in just one afternoon. Quite different from in January when we used a week to do the same. Experience, 24h day light and mild temperatures is to blame.

At N81 06 we are about 20 nm (36km) from the ice edge attached to a pretty big and solid floe. We know that with the current drift of up to 0.9 knots (1,8km/h) we will soon drift uncomfortably close to the ice edge with warmer water and the devastating swells from the open ocean south of us. The latter is our enemy and the former our friend.

This may sound strange for a novice but we want the floe to end its days with our instruments running to document the processes when it melts from below and above. Wave action on the other hand will possibly break the floe apart forcing us to retrieve the instruments and loose the measurements from the final stages of the floe.

So, in the mean time we hope for easterly winds, westerly drift, warm water below and sunny skies.

Harald Steen, leader of the N-ICE2015