The research vessel Polarstern departed for its next Antarctic expedition (PS89) from Cape Town, South Africa, on 02 December 2014. Chief scientist Olaf Boebel leads the international research team on board, consisting of oceanographers, biologists, and sea-ice physicists. All together, they will conduct their research program in the Southern Polar Ocean. In addition, Polarstern will supply the German wintering base Neumayer III. The station needs food, supplies, and fuel for the next wintering season.
Latest news: Polarstern has to end its Antarctic program earlier than scheduled. The vessel will not proceed to Punta Arenas, Chile, as scheduled, but return to Cape Town. Afterwards it will directly return to Bremerhaven, where it is expected in March. The reason are hydraulic problems with one of the port-side propellers. This requires repair in the shipyard in Bremerhaven. See also the AWI press release from 06 January 2015.
Packing, cleaning and zig-zag course back home
350 nm from Cape Town +++ 39° 20’ S, 16° 20’ O +++ +22°C, sunshine, low sea state +++
30 January 2015
(by Marcel Nicolaus, translation by Ina Lefering)
We encountered several low pressure systems on our journey home from the ice edge to Cape Town. The ship has started to move again due to the storms associated with low pressure but fortunately, we were spared extreme winds and waves.
Anatomy of a sighting
49° 00‘ S, 12° 55‘ O +++ +5°C, 2 m swell, 1 m wind sea+++
27 January 2015
(by Sacha Viquerat; translation: Ina Lefering)
Report from 17th January 2015: The Antarctic wind that our three brave marine mammal observers have to face is freezing cold. The three have reached half time of their last shift of the day, working on the crow’s nest in their bright red polar suits. The amount of sightings has been pretty slim so far: the only thing that caught their attention was the blow of a group of minke whales at around 6:10 am.
Krill and the last ice
Southern Ocean +++ 60°’14’ S, 00°12’ E +++ -1 °C, open water +++
25 January 2015
(by Fokje Schaafsma)
In the last loose sea ice we got the opportunity to fish with the SUIT and the RMT once more. This was great because we haven’t been fishing under the sea ice a lot due to the lost time and our new route.
Southern Ocean +++ 66°’46’ S, 00°11’ E +++ -1 °C, strong winds, open water +++
21 January 2015
(by Jan Andries van Franeker)
We are on our way north, back to Cape Town. Our faulty port-side propeller is fixed in forward position and will only be used once we make no further stops for our research. We left the polynya near Neumayer station on January 13th when a barrier of 30 to 40 miles of heavily packed sea ice separated us from more open ice areas in the North.
Autonomous sea ice buoys send data also beyond the expedition
Weddell Sea +++ 66° 58’ S, 0° 0’ W +++ -1.1°C, wind force 9, open water +++
19 January 2015
(by Sandra Schwegmann; translation Ina Lefering)
Our research program approaches its end and all work on the sea ice is completed. We have now left the ice covered part of the ocean. The last thing we did, was to deploy additional sea ice buoys. They will measure and transmit data on sea ice growth, snow accumulation, and sea ice drift during the upcoming Antarctic winter.
100% ice cover +++ 70° 15’S, 9° 30’W +++ -3°C, sunshine +++
15 January 2015
(by Stefanie Arndt and Marcel Nicolaus, translation: Ina Lefering)
Turquois-blue underwater worlds, small caves under the sea ice, a krill swarm passing by. Thanks to Siri’s video camera, we are able to explore all these fascinating under worlds. We took Siri, our small remotely operated vehicle (ROV), along on this cruise as a diving platform for our radiation sensors.
Tides at the ice shelf edge
Antarctica +++ 70° 31’ S, 8° 45’ W +++ --‐2°C, cloudy, snow showers +++
11 January 2015
(by Peter Lemke, translation by Ina Lefering)
It was important to find a good mooring site for Polarstern to supply Neumayer station with fuel (380,000 litres Arctic Diesel and 60,000 litres kerosene). Polarstern had to stay absolutely still for 24 hours during the pumping process, because the hose for the fuel had to be free from any tension. We chose a bay in the ice shelf edge, which was sheltered by an iceberg that grounded on the seafloor north of the bay.
Days and weeks on boardIce shelf edge
+++ 70° 31’ S, 8° 45’ W +++ --‐3°C +++ wind force 6 +++
11 January 2015
(by Marcel Nicolaus, translation: Ina Lefering)
There is always something going on on board of Polarstern. People say ‘the ship never sleeps’. We live and work in a 24h rhythm; 24 hours of daylight, sometimes brighter sometimes darker depending on the cloud coverage. Most people on board work in shifts. There are typically 3 shifts or watches: 0-4 o’clock, 4-8 o’clock and 8-12 o’clock, repeated every 12 hours.
Sounds in the Ocean
Antarctica +++ 70° 33’ S, 8° 50’ W +++ --‐3°C, cloudy, Northerly winds +++
08 January 2015
(by Karolin Thomisch, Stefanie Spiesecke and Ina Lefering, translation by Ina Lefering)We, the ‘Ocean Acoustics’ group, study the distribution of marine mammals (such as whales, dolphins, and seals) in the southern ocean. In order to study the animals and the waters around, we include two types of acoustic devices into the moorings that are deployed during this expedition: acoustic underwater recorders and sound sources.
Expedition plans changed
Neumayer Shelf ice edge +++ 70°31’ S – 08°50’ W +++ Air temperature -4°C
07 January 2015
(by: Jan Andries van Franeker)
In between Christmas and New Year, during our attempts to break the fast ice to make a way to the ice shelf, a technical problem came up with our port-side propeller. Polarstern regulates forward or backward power by changing the pitch of the propeller blades. On our left propeller, the blades at some stage became firmly fixed in backward position and could no longer be controlled.
Antarctica +++ 70° 40’ S, 8° 16’ W +++ -‐6°C, cloudy, light winds from Southwest +++
04. January 2015
(by Peter Lemke, translation: Ina Lefering)
Polarstern is not only a platform for various research projects during this cruise but also supplies the Neumayer III station with food, spare parts and fuel. The station is located 17 km from the ice shelf edge. Due to the thick fast ice, we were not able to reach the usual site on the ice shelf edge and are therefore unloading all containers with food and supplies onto the sea ice.
Measurements in Atka Bay
Atka Bay +++ 70° 32’ S, 08° 04’ W +++ -1.9°C, Sunshine and slightly snowing +++
01. January 2015
(by Sandra Schwegmann, translation: Ina Lefering)
Since 6 days, we are located only a few kilometres from Neumayer III, the German research station in Antarctica, -‐ just outside Atka Bay. RV Polarstern resupplies Neumayer III with food, scientific and technical equipment as well as fuel, as always around this time of year. But this year, it seems to be particularly difficult to fulfil its task.