Departure into the ice – Polarstern starts the Arctis season towards Svalbard

On Tuesday May 19th 2015 the research ship Polarstern departed from his home port in Bremerhaven towards the Arctic. Under the lead of Dr. Ilka Peeken from Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung (AWI) there are 51 scientists out of 11 countries on board who will explore the effects for climate change from the arctic sea ice to the arctic deep-sea floor.

The Arctic Polarstern expedition is called TRANSSIZ (Transitions in the Arctic Seasonal Sea Ice Zone) and was initiated by the ART network (Arctic in Rapid Transition). This stands for an international research team which investigates from different scientific disciplines the effects of climate changes in the Arctic. The sea ice zone is northern of Svalbard where Polarstern is going to cruise. There will be two sections from shallow water to deep sea near the continental edge of the European Arctic for process studies of the marine productivity and for the dynamics of the ecosystem and biogeochemical cycles.

The focus will lay on the determination and the quantitation of the environmental conditions for productivity (e.g. nutrients, stratification) in the Arctic spring. The acquired data is going to predict the potentially primary production from year to year in a future ice-free arctic ocean. Furthermore the changes in sea-ice productivity and in ocean circulation are going to be linked with the results of the last glacial cycle.

Here you can read the AWI press release.


Further reports you can find also at the Blogwebsite of the Helmholtz-Association.

Leaving the Arctic Behind – Of Polar Cod and Going Home

26 June 2015
Shannon MacPhee, Meri Korhonen, and Kirstin Werner

Only few days are left; we are approaching the end of the cruise. Last Wednesday we already entered the open ocean and left the Arctic sea-ice edge behind. On our way south, we passed an area inhabited by quite a few seals, and some of us were lucky enough to see whales. On Tuesday we had our last station; since then people have been busy with packing and cleaning the laboratories. The sudden emptiness of the labs seems somehow odd. More....

The Sea Ice Physics Team – From basic tools to advanced technology

24 June 2015
A. Fong, M. Kędra, and C. Mӓrz

For many people (including members of this blog team), remembering their physics lessons at school is not a very fond memory. Physics, often coupled with math, all too often seems very abstract. On a polar expedition, however, the physicists are a far cry from the stereotypical image of a theoretical physicist - sitting in front of a computer crunching highly complex equations. More....

Fixing and trixing

21 June 2015
Fokje Schaafsma, Hauke Flores and Anna Nikolopoulos

Yesterday we waved goodbye to our last ice station, the eighth in the row of ice floes visited during our cruise. Working on the ice, as well as onboard Polarstern, we’ve been struck by all the types of creative solutions for reaching the goals of our measurements. Not only the instruments themselves, which of course are quite innovative as such, but rather the fixing and trixing needed to make things and routines work well both on the ice and on the ship. More....

TRANSSIZ Expedition – Facts and Figures of the different scientific programmes

19 June 2015
Shannon MacPhee, Meri Korhonen, Kirstin Werner, and Christian März

We have now started our seventh ice station and thought it is about time to summarize the amount of samples that were collected within the past few weeks during our TRANSSIZ cruise. Because we are scientists, we approached this summary quantitatively. In order to study the sea-ice habitat, the sea ice biology team has collected over 560 kg of sea-ice cores of about 200 m length in total. More....

The Invisible Majority – How single cells make Earth habitable

17 June 2015
A. Fong, M. Kędra, and C. Mӓrz

We are at our 6th ice station and the fog has rolled in. Standing out on the back deck, you feel almost like you are enclosed inside one of those tiny snow globes, the scenery blanketed in snow and the Polarstern wrapped in a foggy mist. Looking out over the rail of the Polarstern, into the depths of the Arctic Ocean there appears little life to the naked eye. More....

A special balloon – Meteorological observations on board Polarstern

15 June 2015
Fokje Schaafsma, Hauke Flores and Anna Nikolopoulos

The strong winds of the last couple of days complicated the work on the ship and on the ice. Not only do you constantly have to keep an eye to prevent your stuff from flying away, it also makes it very cold. The people that go to work outside put on an extra layer of clothes and cover up as much bare skin as possible. Some equipment that is used to do measurements from the ship is either too heavy or too light to be used while the wind is blowing so hard. More....

In the grip of the ice – The power of the Arctic Ocean

10 June 2015
by A. Fong, M. Kędra, and C. Mӓrz

At first it feels like flying over the ice. Gently the bow of Polarstern hovers forward over the ice floe at the speed of racing horses. Then a scream and a crack, as the keel hits the ice with its bladelike front edge, sometimes creating extra noise in our cabins and labs, books in the shelves falling forward by sudden deceleration. At this moment, tension on the bridge reaches its maximum. More....

Negotiating the ice – How Polarstern breaks through the Arctic

8 June 2015
Fokje Schaafsma, Hauke Flores and Anna Nikolopoulos

At first it feels like flying over the ice. Gently the bow of Polarstern hovers forward over the ice floe at the speed of racing horses. Then a scream and a crack, as the keel hits the ice with its bladelike front edge, sometimes creating extra noise in our cabins and labs, books in the shelves falling forward by sudden deceleration.  More....

Every research trip a new adventure: Working place icebreaker

5 June 2015
Kirstin Werner, Meri Korhonen, and Shannon MacPhee

We are now into week three of the TRANSSIZ cruise to explore sea-ice processes in a seasonal Arctic environment. To date, we have successfully completed our work at three stations alongside ice floes and have really begun to establish a sampling rhythm. Now that we have a handle on our own workflow, the Captain and Doctor of the R/V Polarstern were kind enough to grant us an interview to answer a few questions about how they came to be in leadership roles on such a famous research vessel, and what they enjoy most about their work. More....

As clean as mud – first samplings on the expedition

3 June 2015
A. Fong, M. Kędra, and C. Mӓrz

Beyond 80°N, the seascape is dotted with thick ice floes and sometimes you can’t see where the ice ends and the sky begins. It’s beautiful. The waters are calm except for the wake and churning ice left by the Polarstern. A tiny trail of muddy water is all we leave behind as we head northeast towards deeper waters. More....

Tiny Trace Gases in Arctic Sea Ice

28 May 2015
by Meri Korhonen, Shannon McPhee and Kirstin Werner

Valérie Gros and Roland Sarda-Esteve from the Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement (LSCE) in Paris have experience measuring trace gases in the ocean, but are new to working with sea ice. In addition to the gear they packed to work on ice floes, they brought their own air because they do not really trust the cool Arctic air. More....

Is your lab ready? Yes everything is set up for sampling the ice!

27 May 2015
by A. Fong, M. Kędra, and C. Mӓrz

We have been sailing for a week now, and the unpacking is completed! The labs and working spaces have been more challenging to set up than usual with so many different groups and disciplines on board. Not unlike an orchestra composed of musicians who are excellent at their instruments but have never played together, we are still tuning up. The excitement is building as the big performance is approaching. Now all we need is some ice! More....

Let’s meet – How chemists, geologists, physicists, and biologists coordinate their sampling

26. May 2015
by Fokje Schaafsma, Hauke Flores and Anna Nikolopoulos

“At nine there is the ice-meeting and at one there is the mud-meeting…”.Apart from all the other preparations there are a lot of things that need to be planned and discussed. Different groups of people study different things and all of them need to collect their desired samples in the weeks ahead. More....

On the way to the sea-ice edge: Preparations for investigating the Arctic in Rapid Transition

20 May 2015
by L-R Shannon MacPhee, Kirstin Werner and Meri Korhonen

This Tuesday May 19th, the R/V Polarstern departed Bremerhaven port with 51 scientists from 11 countries who will investigate the effects for climate change in the Arctic Ocean. The cruise is called TRANSSIZ which stands for ‘Transitions in the Seasonal Ice Zone’. Before actually taking off, families and friends had the opportunity to tour the vessel – it sure was hard to give to a tour having never been onboard the ship before. More....

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