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!

But first, some of the equipment needs to be tested. This way we can avoid unpleasant surprises. This afternoon the pilots pass us in the hall on the way to the helicopter. The sea ice physics team is waiting, eager to test their workhorse, the electromagnetic (EM) Bird. It looks a bit like a torpedo, hanging down from the helicopter. It is used to gather sea ice thickness data. These measurements are critical to document the ongoing thinning and retreat of sea ice. On the deck below, a seawater pool is set up, but unfortunately not for swimming. Here optical underwater tools and sensors are being tested.

The Compact Optical Profiling Systems (COPs) are one of these tools and they measure how deep sunlight penetrates the ocean. The Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) is a camera-equipped robot carrying a suite of electronics to sense properties of the water below the ice. It is performing perfectly! Not all tests are as successful. Luckily we still have enough time and shared expertise to overcome those problems. Yet, the true test will be when we are anchored to our first ice floe.