Arctic – Homebound-

Was I just in the Arctic on Saturday and now I am at home on the couch with the family and dog? Traveling by air can make the sense of time and place surreal. I can imagine that before air travel, people had a connection to the land and changes in the landscape as they traveled by foot. horse, or carriage. Traveling by air at night, I was not aware of the changes in landscape from the mountains and glaciers of the west coast, plains of the mid-west to the wetlands of the east coast. Honestly, I could have seen the mid-west and east coast, but my eyelids were heavy.

Trip Summary

The trip home was long as we waited anxiously for hours to board a helicopter off of the Healy. I arrived at the Barrow airport only to hear them say, “we have closed the luggage check for Flight 50.” After rescheduling the flights as I have just missed all my connections, I was homeward bound. As we passed over the Jefferson Memorial, I knew that the trip was almost over. Or was it? We were now over the runway … and then the plane pulled up due to winds and stormy weather. After circling for a while, we landed. I looked out the window—Dullas Airport? National Airport closed so we landed at Dullas. Three hours later, I was united with my luggage and family to go home.

Final Note

View operations of grabs and coring in the following video. Combine this video with the trawl/gravity core and the CTDA research tool that is submerged in the water to measure conductivity (salinity), temperature, and depth.
time lapses and you will have an almost complete picture of sampling on the Healy.


I am forever changed by my experiences in the Arctic. I have been able to experience some of the current research that will help us to understand the Arctic environment. What I have learned is that human activity changes the environment. From radioisotopes found in the sediment as a result of nuclear testing to changes in the food chains due to warmer temperatures, our actions have a profound effect on the world, especially the polar regions. The purpose of this expedition was to collect data about what is present in the Chukchi Sea, how much is present, and how the water moves. The results of this project, COMIDA, will help us make informed decisions about human activities in the Arctic waters such as drilling and response to oil spills.

Being apart of science expeditions has changed how I approach science teaching. It is a priority to expose and involve students in “real” science incorporating real and near time data and tools. Each day, I ask how can I connect what the students are learning to what is current in the science world.

I am thankful for the unique opportunity to observe and participate in Arctic research.

More Poems

2 Poems from ENS Rebecca Follmer

Beware the north realm
The realm of the polar bears
I am a blue nose


To the last frontier
Through ice and cold HEALY goes
Get your science on!

2 Poems from Sarah Kaye

Of art and science here I put my words
Each night I see the stars come out and shine
Each day I see the movement of the birds
I try to frame the life I want as mine.

My birds and stars as yet no mortgage pay
Nor yet put groc'ries on my cupboard shelf
I must now somehow heedless make my way
And turn my hand to feed and clothe myself.

I laughed at geeks who toil in data's mine
And now I find my trade in science fold
I make the data flow, they raise my mind
With what they find inside the Arctic's cold.

My stars and birds have no concern for me
Yet here I live in true sufficiency.

Long weary nights I stay awake
tx power -24
Although the ship does rattle and shake
tx power -26
We must not lose our Internet link
tx power -24
I think the ship would rather sink.
tx pow

Haikus by HJM

Spell of the Chukchi
There’s a Sea and it’s
Haunting and haunting, luring
Me on as of old

Polar Ops
Healy scientists
Solving Hanna Shoal’s riddles
Between the ice floes

Now, front and center
Four hundred twenty feet of
cold, ice-breaking steel

Arctic Fog
Currents, eddies, flow
Species, productivity
How do these combine?

So little is known
So much is left to explore
Time is running out

Clione limacina
Graceful sea angel
Pretty but predatory
Why are you so mean?

*C. glacialus *
Copepod extraordinaire
Time for your close-up

Whale Food
Ever elusive
inermis and raschii
Where are you hiding?

Messenger of the Gods
Tiny pteropod
Calcium carbonate shells
Ocean butterfly

Hermes’ winged foot caught
Acidification looms
Tortoise vs hare

Thin ice
Run, polar bear, run!
Before the ice gets too thin
And your world caves in

MooringAn anchor or weight attached to the sea floor used to hold a scientific instrument in place.
Millions of dollars, data
Hanging by a wire

Drift away
drifter in the wind
go where the current takes you
send me a postcard

A Poem by Philip and Tanya

Collecting Ice Algae

Collecting ice algae
On a cold June night
We’ll scrape anything we can find
We just hope they are happily alive

We’ll put them in the their flasks
Under lights we hope that last
Glad if they divide we’ll win
This leads to sexual reproduction

Collecting ice algae on a cold June night
We’re all out of our right mind
Reminders needed to go aft on port side
Without the means we troubleshoot and improvise

During melt these algae sink fast
Food web structure shifts and grazes think it’s a gas
Isotope C to N ratio shifts
Giving grant writing scientists hypothesis gifts

Collecting ice algae on cold summer nights
We’ll take anything we can find
We just hope
We all make it outta here alive