We now are cruising towards station 6 already and are south enough to be in open water but the first two sampling locations were still in the ice. On the aft deck, the 'back of the boat' there is a large A-frame with a winch that holds our multicorer; a sampling device with eight core liners that allows us to take eight sediment cores per deployment (or 'cast'). The multicorer is loaded with extra lead weights to make it heavy enough to sink into the sea bottom. It was a challenge to deploy sampling equipment in between large, unpredictably drifting ice floes along with lots of slush ice clogging up the surface. Pomerine skuas were hovering above us. Geared up with safety harnesses and boat hooks we stood on the fan tail to push away the ice. Exciting and cool at the same time, we are really in the Arctic!
The Swedish crew on the deck are careful, skilled and funny at the same time so it is pleasant for us, the scientist 'crew' working with them. The first deployments took a long time (water depths of 2500 to 3100 m!) but we retrieved nice cores. The different cores are assigned to different people that will each do their own analyses, either on the ship, or back home.
When the CTD is back on deck, it's driven into a little container where a large group of people will take water from the Niskin bottles and fill sample containers, bottles, tubes, and molecular sieves for a very diverse set of analyses from dissolved oxygen to dissolved methane, dissolved and particulate organic carbon, nutrients, and many other things. We are soon heading into a region that is known for so-called methane flares; hotspots in the sea bottom that release methane bubbles. Igor Semiletov, one of the chief scientists onboard, has with his team and colleagues been studying these phenomena since quite a while. One of the main goals of this trip to study these flares and the methane they emit in great detail.