3 October 2012

Arctic Sea Ice, Fram Strait

N 79 47.460

E 02 43.684

UNIS students took final data readings before everything was taken off the ice and brought back aboard the ship. After a group photo, representing a time in our lives we’ll never forget, yet another polar bear walked across our temporary polar real estate.

Students packing up equipment as they prepare to leave the ice floe field site.

Students packing up equipment as they prepare to leave the ice floe field site.

We soon left our ice floe. The ship grinded forward then backward, in a series of k-turns, as if we were in a giant, frozen parking lot trying to turn around. Rumbling, grinding, smashing, we finally broke free into open water. Soon, the icepack was just a thin white line off to our right, and it was then that I realized how abstract the edge of the Arctic can seem. Inside the ice pack, its vastness negates any thought of melting or retreating ice. Now, out here on the open water, I can see that the condition and state of the thin white line is unknowable without stories, data and measurements. Hopefully, our lenses and words will make some small contribution toward a deeper understanding. This is a complex system that depends on the cold air being able to suppress the warm ocean; one glitch—like a warming atmosphere—and things begin to fall apart.

RV Lance crew member removing a temporary pylon used to moor the ship to the ice floe.

RV Lance crew member removing a temporary pylon used to moor the ship to the ice floe.

It’s dark outside. But the trembling of the ship speaks loudly of the water that lies below us in this 4,450-meter-deep ocean. We’re heading southward on a recovery mission. We’re looking for a section of ice upon which scientific equipment was installed in April. It has been drifting from near the North Pole. This floe goes by the name of Barneo.

Svavar Jónatansson

Extreme Ice Survey

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