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  • Expedition comes to an end

     Longyearbyen 2008-09-09

    Early this morning Oden anchored up in the fjord off Longyearbyen after a rather stormy last day and night at sea. We are thus back where we started 40 days ago and this signals the end of the expedition; the ASCOS science crew was on shore before lunch and while some stayed until the day after, most flew out the same day.

    ASCOS as a project, however, is not over yet. Now follows the exciting scientific work with the data we have gathered over the last six weeks or so. So stay tuned; news will be posted as the arise!

    Oden back in LongyearbyenOden back in Longyearbyen

  • 6 September, in the MIZ at N80 46’ E09 23'

    We have made very good time in the ice the last few days and we have now reached the marginal ice zone (MIZ) where the pack ice gradually ends. In fact it has gone so well that we will stay here until tomorrow morning before we will start a slow cruise in the open water south of the ice edge. This will allow some additional sampling so we have revived the science project somewhat and will continue sampling until late afternoon tomorrow.

    Marginal ice zoneMarginal ice zone

  • 4 September breaking ice at N84 48’ W02 28’

    Making our way south at good speed and do not expect any delays unless something unforeseen happens. There is still plenty of ice, but now we start seeing meltponds again. We also see very large amounts of "dirty ice"; ice which is brown or green from biological activity. The day after our departure from the ice camp we had the mandatory Crayfish Party; everyone had a very good time. Now we are starting to plan for the disembarkment in Longyearbyen and for demobilization in Landskrona later in September.

    Breaking iceBreaking ice

  • 2 September breaking ice at N86 58’ W05 01'

    Last night at about 01.30 UTC we finally departed from out three-week long ice camp. Left in the snow are only footprints, ski and snowmobile tracks. The weather was stunningly beautiful as the high-pressure weather gave us its last push, but bitterly cold. We worked a long day prior to departure getting everything in from the ice, and ended the day by celebrating the ASCOS success by sharing a "glass of bubbles" on the helipad; improvised partying followed into the small hours and today we’ve had a really quiet ship.

    Leaving footprints behindLeaving footprints behind

  • 1 September at N87 09’ W 10 45’

    The last few days of our ice camp was dominated by high-pressure weather – today the surface pressure reached above 1031 hPa. For a few days we had a persistent cloud layer in the subsidence inversion, but yesterday it started to break up and since tonight we have had alternating fog (with a beautiful "fog bow") and clear weather, with a temperature this morning down to -12 degrees Celsius. The air is extremely "clean"; in fact there are so few particles in the air that our breathing does not create a cloud even when it is this cold. Bring out a cup of hot water outside and it hardly steams. Twist a lighter over the cup (adding particles!) and it suddenly starts steaming! This is our last and final day at the ice camp and tonight we will depart to go back home – only it will take a little over a week until we’re done.

    Oden under a fog bowOden under a fog bow

  • 31 August

    For the last several days we have been lying under the influence of a major high-pressure region, which up here doesn't mean sunny weather, rather the opposite; more clouds. Some fog, but by and large visibility has not been a major problem. What has been somewhat of a problem these last 36 hours is that the winds have been too weak to allow sampling of aerosols and gases on the 4th deck; the risk of instead sampling diesel fumes, exhaust gases and particles or stuff from the galley is just too large. The meteorology and oceanography programs are running like a charm, while the marine biochem program has wrestled with increasing amounts of new ice in their open lead. Soon - oh very soon - we are going to leave this place, to go home...

    Still overcastStill overcast

  • 27 August at N 85 21' W08 09' drifting westward

    One part of the ASCOS observations is launching of "weather balloons" -
    helium-filled balloons sent up on a regular schedule every six hours
    from the helipad, carrying a sonde measuring pressure, temperature and
    humidity with sensors on the sonde itself. Winds are calculated from how
    the sensor package moves using differential GPS; a GPS receiver on the
    sonde records the position of the instruments and compares those to the
    position of the ground station. The height of the sonde can be
    calculated from the observed pressure and temperature. The results from
    the soundings provide a picture of the time-varying vertical structure
    of the atmosphere up to about 25 kilometers. They are also used as
    "first guess" profiles for some retrieval algorithms used to interpret
    different remotes sensing instruments. Every so often the sounding is
    augmented by sensors measuring either radioactivity or ozone; we try and
    time these so that they are done on days when the Sodankylä monitoring
    station in norther Finland does similar launches.

    Ozone sounding being launchedOzone sounding being launched

  • 26 August, at N87 22' W 07 28'

    As you may have noticed if you have followed the positions on these
    reports, we are not really going anywhere. We had expected to drift
    south with the ice, but with the peculiar weather and winds we have had
    it feels like we are running around in circles. Since the dense fog of a
    few days before started to lift now and again, we have managed to get a
    birds-eye view on our home. The ice floe that we are anchored to is
    about 3 x 6 km large and there are quite a few melt ponds on the
    surface. There are also several other relatively large floes in the
    neighborhood as well as some open water. Both are now rapidly freezing
    over since the temperature is rarely above -2 Celsius.
    Aerial view of ASCOS ice floeAerial view of ASCOS ice floe

  • 25 August, at N87 25' W07 25'

    These last few days the weather has improved in so far as the visibility
    is better at least some parts of the day. The winds are also more
    moderate, although more variable in direction. Since the aerosol and
    atmospheric chemistry sampling requires their inlets into the wind, we
    have moved the ship twice in the last two days. Otherwise much of the
    work is now routine, and as we know we only have about a week until we
    need to leave here, everyone is working hard to get the most out of the
    stay. What was not routine today was the last and final visit from our
    AMISA friends in Kiruna coming over again in their NASA DC-8 research
    aircraft. They spend a little over four hours in our area, but we only
    saw them a few times since the cloud base was sporadically quite low.
    NASA 817 - call sign for NASAs DC-8 research aircraftNASA 817 - call sign for NASAs DC-8 research aircraft

  • Still in pack ice at N87 22’, W 07 10’ 22 August

    In the weak winds we have now we are only drifting very slowly, and generally westward right now. 
    The fog is still the biggest problem we have; the poor visibility it makes work on the ice vey difficult. 
    The low temperatures we’ve had over the last two days also caused the water in the leads to start 
    freezing. At the “Lead Ice Camp”, about 3 kilometers away, there is very little open water left and 
    ice flowers have started to grow on the 2-3 centimeter thick new ice that has now formed. Our own 
    backyard Ringed Seal, however, has several holes in the ice through which it pops up for air, and 
    also to check that we are still there and have not turned into Polar Bears.
    Frozen over leadFrozen over lead