Latitude: 60 47.831N Longitude: 174 22.268W
On the hunt for ice sturdy enough to stand on or any ice at all for that matter- we headed north again last night. I like the sound of this, as I still haven't checked Ursus maritimus (polar bear) off my list of must-sees. Do you think that I will find a polar bear out on this "pancake" ice? Probably not but the rolling waves of ice fields are amazing to see!
Now that we are back in the ice, Heloise Chenelot of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, heads to the Bridge a few times daily to make "Ice Observations". Heloise, along with others on board, records what she notices in an online journal. By recording the date, exact location and what she sees, scientists studying this region can make comparisons and track changes from year to year in many locations throughout the Bering Sea.
Why is this important? For one thing, the study of global climate change is wholly uncharted territory. To really study change scientifically, it is important to record information so that trends can be noted and reoccurring events are tracked. The timing of the sea ice melting each spring and the extent to which it is melting earlier is of particular interest to the scientists studying the Bering Sea ecosystem. The ice conditions are directly related to their studies and the outcomes of their experiments vary widely with changing conditions.
The "Ice Log" has specific spaces to choose the kind of ice; grease, pancake, broken pack, hummocks, just to name a few. Heloise must estimate the total ice coverage, how old the ice is for the season and what kinds of formations are present. She may note that there are ridges, "rubble fields" or polyna, small melt ponds.
So what am I doing while Heloise is hard a work on the Bridge? I'm down earning my keep as an MST-in-training on the fantail, of course! The Marine Science Technicians use carefully choreographed hand signals when communicating with the various equipment operators during deployment. Here I am learning signals like "up and out", "pay out more line" and "in the water"! Better keep my day job!