Third report from ARTofMELT

We have now passed the expedition midpoint, and the first half brought a mix of experiences. The ice has been much harder and more difficult than expected.

We gave up attempts to go north from the marginal ice zone the first few days and went southeast around two enormous blocking ice floes to go northward west of these, but this also proved very difficult. In the meantime we also had our first five-day ice camp near N79.8º W2º. This allowed us to put many instrument systems on the ice and to welcome a first brief intrusion of warm air from the south, and much interesting data was collected. However, it also put us in the southward drift along the Greenland coast, so we drifted almost half a degree southeast.

Research vessel Oden in the Arctic. Photo: Michael Tjernström/MISU/Stockholm University
Figure 1: Oden moored to ice floe during the first ice camp, flying the Helikite instrument system off the aft. Photo: Michael Tjernström/MISU/Stockholm University
Helicopter transporting measuring device. Photo: Michael Tjernström/MISU/Stockholm University
Figure 2: Oden’s own helicopter flying out over the ice with the Helipod instrument package as stormy weather approaches. Photo: Michael Tjernström/MISU/Stockholm University

We spent some more days trying to go north at this longitude but each time we stopped, because the ice was pressing on us, we drifted back half the distance gained. On Saturday 27 May we instead steered east into almost open water and headed back north with good speed. Since midnight we progressed to N80.5º E5º where we are now looking for an ice floe for our next ice camp, waiting for spring.

Much else has happened and we have been busy with many helicopter trips to various ice floes for sampling and for flying our Helipod. Two snow storms with mean winds above 20 m/s, gusting well above 25 m/s, had us immobile for one full day each. But we have also seen sunny bright days with almost no clouds. For the most part the temperatures have stayed below freezing, with about -14ºC at the lowest and new ice is still forming in open water overnight.

Polar bear with cub. Photo: Michael Tjernström/MISU/Stockholm University
Figure 3: Polar Bear visit; a mother and her young cub. Photo: Michael Tjernström/MISU/Stockholm University

After the ice station we also had two close visits by Polar Bears; the first a large male and the second time a female with a cub, that came one late afternoon, was then scared away with the ships horn but reappeared the day after.

Last night we had the expedition half-time dinner; three courses on white table cloths; if nothing else, we eat really very well!