Field phase successfully completed

The field phase of N-ICE2015, which started in January, is now over. We are back in Longyearbyen after a busy half-a-year on the polar ice. It has been full of challenges, and a steep learning experience, but things have been working smoother and smoother every time we have had to re-establish our research camp on the ice during the course of winter and spring. The dynamic ice has posed challenges to the ship, its crew and the scientists, but mostly we have not suffered that much, but conquered the challenges we have faced, and learnt a lot along the way.

People laying in letter formation on the ice spell N-ICE.

N-ICE! Photo: Marcel Nicolaus / Alfred Wegener Institute

The research vessel Lance at an ice floe in the Arctic, seen from the air.

Lance by the ice floe that housed us for 11 days during June. Photo: Harald Steen / Norwegian Polar Institute

Overall the field campaign has been a great feat, and all the participants and support personnel have to be given all the credit for the success.

We have spent in total 111 days attached to an ice floe since January 15, where 68 scientists, 27 support staff, and 20 ship crew have been involved.

That’s a total of 3102 man-days in the service of science.

We have had 5 crew shifts, with the helicopter and the Norwegian Coast Guard icebreaker KV Svalbard shuttling people between Longyearbyen (Svalbard) and the ship, located someplace deep into the ice covers over the Arctic Ocean – often times at maximum operating distance of the Super Puma helicopter.

We have been visited by Norwegian Royals; Their Royal Highnesses Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit, and also by the Minister of Climate and Environment.

We have hosted media like NRK, BBC and National Geographic, ensuring that the outside world gets an insight into the state of the Arctic Ocean.

In early spring we also had the pleasure of educating the coming generation, represented by 4 13-year-olds participating in Operation Nansen. This upcoming TV series aims to educate kids about the devastating effects of global warming on the Arctic ice cap, and the consequences for the climate and ecosystems. 

Throughout the campaign the ship’s crew has worked marvelously and helped us out anytime a problem needed solving. They also used their experience from earlier tests to improve what could have gone wrong in the cold. They are simply the best. The kitchen made it impossible to come for a diet onboard the ship, despite the long hours of calorie-burning activities in the cold.

Safety training for all participants was given by our experienced personnel at the Norwegian Polar Institute. We’re very glad we didn’t have any major incidents during the whole campaign. Pretty amazing, considering the conditions and work hours. It’s sad to leave the ice after all this time, but we do so knowing that this journey has made us much richer with experiences.

The end of the field campaign phase of the N-ICE2015 does not mark the end of the project; quite the contrary, it is actually the beginning of a new busy phase. Now, the scientists’ focus shifts from gathering to analyzing and understanding the data. Lots of work goes into first gathering all data, but quality control and initial processing of it all also takes a lot of effort. The coming months and years will be a lot of work, but also an exciting time, as our data start to reveal more about how things work, and we have our eureka moments.

We look forward to see all the new results from this endeavor. But for now we head south, for a well-deserved soak of sun and warmth before picking up the pace again.