The Ice Castle
The Polarstern found their floe! In a sea of thin ice, they found one of the few pieces in this region thick and big enough to support the science operations and airstrip. They will be mooring to it tomorrow and begin the process of freezing in for the year.
It is about 1 mile by 2 miles in size, and has a thick centerpiece. Though the flat areas around the edges are pretty thin, there is a thick centerpiece. It seems that here the ice has been compressed and folded together. It is 3-4 meters (10-14 feet) thick and looks like small ice mountain ranges. This thick centerpiece is being called the ice castle or the fortress.
As one researcher described the situation, "It is like a hidden treasure!"
It truly is unusual to find an ice floe like this. There is a lot of interest in finding out where this floe originated and how it came to be like this. Some of these answers may come from tracking it back through satellite images from the past year. And hopefully the rest of the puzzle will be put together after people are able to do ice cores and analyze the sediments, gases, microbes, and ice algae present. I will keep you posted once we know more.
Now, we part ways. As they moor to the main ice floe, we head out into the ice with the Fedorov. Over the next 2 weeks, we will set up a distributed network of research equipment on floes spread out about 2-10 miles from the main site. Everyone is eager to get it all set up and truly begin the scientific work of this year-long expedition.
More: Here's a link to the latest media about the expedition announcing the location of the floe.