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4 days to go…

April 22, 2009

Welcome again to the EPOCA Arctic site. As you will now see the pages are all up, with information on the background science, including some chemistry and of course the biology. All the people in our campaign have provided some information about themselves and we are getting more information up about the various experiments. So please feel free to explore the site. We will start the blogs properly once we arrive in the Arctic.

We have just four days to go, and I am going through waves of excitement before realising just how much work I still need to finish off here before we leave. Our cargo has all been sent, our flights are booked and we’re ready to go…. nearly!  It will take us two days to get from Plymouth, UK to the research base in Ny-Alesund. We fly from London Heathrow to Oslo, Norway, where we stay overnight before getting another flight from Oslo over to Longyearbyen, Svalbard. Once we are in Longyearbyen we will transfer to a small, 12-seater plane that takes us the last 20 minutes across a snow-capped mountain range to the research base.

Just a few days ago we recieved an email from Marcus (the AWI base commander) informing us of the wintery conditions that await us… -16oC and a fjord full of ice!  He sent us these photos…

kongsfjord ice floats

Ice floats in Kongs Fjord. Photo courtesy of Marcus Schumacher

kongsfjord Sea Ice with the Three Sisters mountains in the background

Sea Ice formations in Kongs Fjord. Photo courtesy of Marcus Schumacher

We have tried to be as prepared as possible so we can cope with the cold and snow on land, thats not really a problem – and actually very exciting! – because we have lots of insulating thermals, jackets, hats and gloves. Also, most of the time we will be inside the laboratory or other buildings which are all nicely heated. However, the sea ice is causing some logistical problems. The cargo ship needs to deliver some supplies and equipment to the base, but they cannot get into the Fjord when it is full of ice. Also, the boats that are used from the base to go out sampling have not been launched which means that we cannot collect animals, sediment or other samples for our experiments. The divers are going to be busy!! But even they are limited by the ice cover. Hopefully the sun, which is now above the horizon for 24 hours, will start to melt the ice and the wind will break it up and push it out of the fjord. Fingers crossed this happens quickly, otherwise we will be delaying our experiments. Watch this space…

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