January 3, 2007
Position 71° 21.900' N 124° 53.981' W
It was brutal on the ice today. At 12:30, Wojciech, Monika, and I loaded our coring equipment into the ice cage and were lowered over the port side of the ship. For safety reasons, we were not allowed to move far away from the ship. In case of a polar bear sighting or cracking ice we had to be within easy reach of the cage so all of our work was done shipside. Wojciech and I needed ninety minutes to complete twelve full cores and three partials. The ice pack is made of distinct layers and on this particular flow the top layer was not very large. In order to ensure that we had enough ice to analyze, taking a few extra 20 cm partials cores was necessary.
Today, my face stayed covered the whole time. Although we were partially sheltered from the 30 knot (33 mph) winds, we worked with our backs to the wind for the entire time. I felt every bit of the -50°C (-58°F) wind chill. Wojciech and I would core as fast as we could, pull the core from the water, lay it on the ice for Monika to bag and transfer to the cooler, then immediately start again. There was no resting in the wind. I felt like a coring machine.
We took a quick coffee break after coming inside from the cold before I was sent to the moon pool. The ice around us had proved relatively stable so moon pool activities were allowed to resume. I collected two coolers full of seawater from the rosette for the copepod jars and brought it back to the aft lab. This water would be filtered later tonight before being placed in the jars sometime tomorrow.
I was back in my cabin for no more that 5 minutes when Elizabeth Shadwick, a PhD student from the University of Alberta, knocked on my door. She needed to get some surface water samples for both herself and two other groups and asked for my help. I got dressed up again, met her on the bow, and was lowered to the ice again. Using a hole previously dug in the ice, we cleared out the slush to gain access to the water below. We used a pump to fill the first few jars but must have taken too long between samples because the water in the tubing froze solid. Thankfully, she had brought down a Niskin bottle which we used to fill the remaining 3 jars. It was dark now and the winds were even stronger than earlier today. We were on the ice for just under 30 minutes, but I do not think we could have stayed much longer. It took me another 30 minutes to thaw out back in my room.
I used the evening to get caught up on some of my work. I edited some journal entries and dispatches for the CFL website, sent a few e-mails, and conferred with Martin, the Amundsen's computer guy, on the possibilities of video-conferencing back to my high school. He seemed optimistic that it would work and we made an appointment for Sunday to set everything up.
After two full weeks aboard the ship, I am feeling very at home. The layout of the ship is second nature, I am becoming efficient in my jobs, and I have grown very comfortable with those around me. My three week stay will prove to be just the right amount of time. Enough time to fully experience and adjust to life aboard the Amundsen but not long enough to become disconnected from my home. Seven days to go.