Parking the ship
We are still in a busy working schedule with lots of sampling stations, but the program should slowly start winding down the next days. Running these stations and deploying instruments in relatively thick ice has not always been very easy. "Parking the ship" is the first part of the challenge; we create some open water around us when we break the ice but we have instruments both at the bow and at the aft deck and with the (wind) drift and current it is difficult to keep both locations sufficiently ice-free to make our deployments. Particularly at the bow, where the CTD is located, this is tricky as it is far above the water and there is no way to manually push away the ice flows. We have the possibility to use a large pump to push the ice away with water pressure but this also obviously affects the stratification, which is something the CTD is measuring.
On the aft deck we have more possibilities. There are two fire hoses that we can direct towards ice floes and we can use long boat hooks to push away the ice. With a dense ice cover we stand with two people on the fan tail, secured with harnesses, to try and keep the 'hole' of open water large enough for our multicorer to go through. Sometimes a close call! One time the multicorer was hugging the approaching ice flow when it came up. Thanks to good timing and rapid communication with the crew on the aft deck that operates the winch and the A-frame, it all worked out.
We have been getting great cores here, the core tops are undisturbed, and the water above the sediment too. We section one or two cores at each station, and store a few others for more analyses. There are also cores being subsampled for methane analysis, sedimentological analysis and ecological/biological analysis. The latter is done by one of our Russian colleagues; he sieves huge amounts of sediments and comes up with the strangest animals!
We are now located around 75 degrees North and 174 degrees East, and tonight or tomorrow we will pass the date line at 180 degrees East. We are then steaming towards Wrangell Island where we will do our last stations. After that we move onwards towards Barrow where 'landing' is planned for around August 20.