This article is part of the series “2023-06: Arctic Ocean cruise KPH”.
1. June – day one
Yesterday I had arrived in Longyearbyen on the Svalbard archipelago, today the cruise Arctic Ocean 2023 I will start. Our ship is the research ice breaker Kronprins Haakon, that I know from last year. It has anchored outside the quay so we are fetched by boat.
On the way to the ship we sit outside. When we arrive at Kronprins Haakon we go into the small boat cabin because the whole boat is winched up by crane until we are on level of deck 4. Time to check in. I get the very same cabin as last year and will share it with a student from India.
Time to say hello to the “Heli deck”, where I spent many hours last winter.
Shortly later I have the opportunity to get a single cabin. According to the cabin list I am a sailor now. Didn’t know that! It’s cabin 468 if you want drop by.
We take lunch at 11:30 and get a safety briefing at 13:00.
Two hours later the anchors are raised and we start our cruise. In the huge Isfjorden mountain chains are everywhere. It’s very impressive. Less the photos of the mountains but the feeling standing there on deck in the sun and have this gorgeous view in all directions while the seagull circle the ship.
2. June – day two
The original plan was to reach station 01 at 84.5° N 18.8° E but the ice situation makes it quite unlikely that we will reach this station. The previous cruise wanted to reach 82.5° N and gave up at 81° N. We’ll try to reach station 05 that is still at almost 84° N. We’ll see, what happens. Travelling in the Arctic is still unpredictable.
While the main research work will take place at the stations that we reach in a couple of days, Ingeborg who amongst others works with microplastics wants to deploy a “neuston-catamaran” that contains two nets collecting microplastic (and other stuff that is large enough). This catamaran will be pulled at the ship’s starboard before brought back on deck again. And since it takes some time, Ingeborg can deploy a buoy for a Finnish colleague by just throwing it into the sea. Then the catamaran is pulled up and the nets look quite dirty.
It’s algae that has been caught together with the plastic and it is so much, that it would take ages to dissolve it without changing the plastics to measure. So this sampling was unfortunately in vain. But there are other scientists on boards. One of them is Malin who works with zooplankton. She takes the samples and looks for species. And finds a lot of Calanus finmarchicus, a common copepod in the north. We can observe it through the microscope.
While we are standing in the “wet lab” I see, that we soon will reach the ice edge and enter the ice. I leave the lab, grab my camera and my down parka (it’s -5 °C) and take pictures from the observation deck while we leave the open water behind.
While the ship tries to find the best way through the ice to save time and fuel now ice is mostly present. And then, after the evening meeting there comes a loudspeaker announcement: Polar bear at the port side. We see it on the starboard side but it’s quite far away. Anyhow, a photo for the records (600 mm, no crop):
Where we are? Halfway between Svalbard and Greenland. After heading mostly west since yesterday now we changed course and head north. Way up north.