Svalbard

Posts from Saturday 29 September, 2007

Chunk

By Ben // Saturday 29 Sep // 23:55:57 // View

The morning watch brought a welcome sight—ice. After five days of unbroken sea in all directions, a gleaming white horizon gave great joy, and yielded some early morning high fives. The spotting occurred squarely between the 6-8 and 8-10 watches, allowing for shared elation and many a slaphappy call of “chunk!” as actual bits of sea ice floated unassumingly aside the boat.

Here a touch of science is called for: the ice we’re seeing is “old,” probably formed two or three years ago up in the polar icecap. It’s then driven down the northeast coast of Greenland by northerly winds and the East Greenland Current, and generally (for the past few years at least) it breaks up somewhere in the neighborhood of Scoresby Sund. Which is where we’re heading. So the plan from here is to follow the ice south to Scoresby Sund, or wherever it’s loose enough (meaning about 10-percent ice cover) and make for the coast.

The blocks of floating ice are somehow captivating. It’s possible that this is because we’ve seen nothing but sea for five days, but I think there’s more to it. The history of this ice, formed years before up towards the pole, carries through it, and the pieces we see have broken from the main flow, weathered and shaped by warmer (it’s all relative) water, wearing their years of frigid floating. In these bits of ice we can feel the last gasp of the solid state.

[Note: I’d started and put on hold this post sometime midday Saturday. As I revisit it Sunday evening, and after spending more time with the ice all day Saturday, we’re feeling a bit different about ice. See subsequent post.]

Representative quote of the day: “It’s like someone has taken the most boring soup in the world, and added croutons.” –Marcus, on ice in the sea.

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Iceberg watch

By Cape Farewell // Saturday 29 Sep // 23:55:20 // View

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The first sighting of ice

By Emily // Saturday 29 Sep // 20:45:06 // View

This morning started with much excitement at the first sighting of ice – at 8.30am everyone was up and taking pictures. It did wonders for the morale on board. The saloon which had been full of soggy gear and sleeping bodies since Sunday became a dance floor. There was much jumping around to ‘Ice Ice baby’ and other cheesy goodness! It is impossible to describe the difference between this and the seemingly endless days of almost everyone on board feeling very ill.

Many a time throughout the voyage so far, I’ve really had to stop and remind myself that we really are sailing (albeit with an occasional helping hand from the engine) across an incredibly remote and very important piece of sea. The Fram Strait, between Spitsbergen and Greenland is the only deep water connection between the entire Arctic Ocean and any of the rest of the global oceans. For this reason, changes in the currents here are strong indicators of change in both the Arctic environment and the large scale circulation of the oceans. Click to read the full post >

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Noorderlicht (on deck)

By Shiro // Saturday 29 Sep // 14:46:42 // View

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Portrait

By Liam // Saturday 29 Sep // 13:39:43 // 2 Comments // View

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First ice

By Matt // Saturday 29 Sep // 08:15:27 // 1 Comment // View

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(Duration: 27 secs)

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