Arctic research expedition with the Norwegian Polar Institute
Kronprins Haakon is a Norwegian icebreaking polar research vessel. It was build 2018, can cut through one metre of solid ice, has 15 different laboratories on board and place for 35 scientists or other staff in addition to the crew.
Four days ago Kronprins Haakon had arrived in Tromsø. It was travelling 26 days since it left Cape Town, the only stopover on its return trip from Antarctica.
This morning I went on board of Kronsprins Haakon. Not as a visitor to look around but with a suitcase, an enormous bag full of warm clothes, a heavy camera backpack and my Canada Goose down parka. I will stay on board for three weeks to participate the winter cruise “Arven etter Nansen JC3” that will lead us to the Barents Sea east of Svalbard and a bit beyond.
Some of you may know that I’ve been working as a data engineer at the Norwegian Polar Institute in Tromsø since autumn 2020. In this position I’m not only a software developer but a data manager of polar research data.
Three and a half weeks ago my colleague M. told me she would join the winter cruise and mentioned that there might still be an available place.
Of course I was very eager to participate. Beside of my private passion for the Arctic I wanted to get a deeper and hands-on understanding of the research data. Where does it come from? How is it measured? And how is it transferred to the digital world? And nothing would teach me better than joining this very winter cruise, where conditions could be quite rough.
I mentioned it to M., another colleague and he introduced me to the expedition leader. There I was told that there was indeed a vacancy on board and that I was welcome to join if my boss would agree.
Since then it had been crazy times with some organisation, a lot of worries and little sleep.
- 1 Feb: My boss had to check the budget for my participation.
- 4 Feb: A seafarer’s doctor examined me and gave me my helseerklæring – a medical certificate that proves me “seaworthy”.
- 16 Feb: I had to take a PCR test and wait for the result for two days. Then I had to take another PCR test, but that’s a whole story in itself.
- 18 Feb: I had to do a survival suit training in the Tromsøsundet.
- 18 Feb: I had to pack clothes and equipment I will need on the cruise. Everything beside of two pairs of boots, a helmet, a floating suit and a survival suit. These are provided by the Norwegian Polar Institute.
- 19 Feb (today): I took a taxi to the port of Tromsø. I was driven directly to Kai 25, took some photos and then went on board.
- Still today: passport control through the police, a security briefing, lunch and dinner, carrying boxes to the labs, entering the rescue boat and some more …
The next weeks
When Kronprins Haakon will leave Tromsø tomorrow morning we will sail north. First destination is a point referred as P1. It is approx. 500 km east of Svalbard’s southern tip. From there we will continue heading north to the other stations, if weather and sea ice conditions allow it.
The northernmost position is planned to be approx. 82° N, somewhere in the Arctic Ocean. That’s more than 10 degrees of altitude further north than I’ve ever been and less than 900 km to the North Pole.
I’m so excited, that’s really way up north!
We will work both on the sea ice and on the ship using various measurement and sampling methods. Some of them I learned a bit last week but most of them I do not know yet. I’m a newbie. I’m here to learn. And hopefully I’ll learn a lot on this cruise.
After three weeks of tokt (Norwegian for “cruise”) we are supposed to arrive in Longyearbyen on 11 Mars. There I’ll take a flight back to Tromsø the same day.
I will not blog on this cruise because there will be a lot of work and hardly any reliable internet connection. But I’ll definitely take photos, both for the Norwegian Polar Institute and in private for this blog.
So, my dear readers, cross your fingers that I do not get seasick, we can reach our planned destinations and most of all that no one has Covid on board.
You can check the live position of the Kronprins Haakon on the map below. And you are welcome to leave a comment. See you again in mid-March when I’ll answer your comments and start posting articles.
23. Feb, 13:03: Just a short note: This map does not seem to work in polar regions. At time we have internet. Outside temperature -17.4 °C. Position round about 76°29′ N 31°11′ E.