Cruise Day 39

    Speed 0 knots (kts) (on station)

    Course n/a

    Location Alpha Ridge, ~290 nautical miles south of N. Pole

    Depth 2190 m

    GO DEEPER DISCUSSION: (see previous journal for the questions.)

    Everyone on the science team working outside on the ice or on deck wears an orange Mustang suit. These are float suits, provide a lot of insulation, and shed water. When I was on the ice today in -12° F wind chill I was glad to have the Mustang suit atop my other layers to keep me snug!


    The super station is progressing well, with only deep McClane filter pumping and a deep ODF rosette cast left to work on before pulling up stakes and heading farther south. We did another ice station today while the deep pumping was going on, a time-saving measure. Last night and today felt about as cold as it has gotten on this trip, with wind chills from -8° F to -12° F depending on the wind’s strength since last night. When we were bringing up the GEOTRACES rosette just before midnight the block (a pulley hung from the aft A-frame) froze up, and the ice had to be chipped out with a pointed hook on a long pole before recovery could continue.

    I also saw something last night that I hadn’t seen for weeks – a sunset! The sun actually set two nights ago for the first time in a while but was hidden by clouds. Last night, though, it sloped low across the sky angling towards the horizon, creating neat optical effects as it went down over a few hours. For a while there were two spectacular halo arcs bracketing the sun that looked like slightly curved rainbows rising up from the horizon right and left of the sun. Simultaneously, there were pillars of light above and below the sun. These effects are all from ice crystals in the air – even though the sky was clear overhead it got so cold that tiny ice crystals were precipitating out of the air like microscopic diamond dust. As the sun dipped to the horizon it turned red, with a red pillar shooting up above it while the patchy clouds low on the horizon seemed to be reflecting fire from below. Finally, the clouds above the set sun glowed as though they enveloped an erupting volcano, with an open lead reflecting the color as though it was a river of lava running away from the eruption.

    Halo arcs and pillars with low arctic sun
    Last night’s sunset featured colorful halo arcs and dramatic pillars above and below the sun.

    Arctic sunset
    Our first sunset in many weeks didn’t disappoint, with red and orange highlights reflected in a newly-frozen lead.

    In Seattle we loaded a cargo of wooden boats that were decorated by students from schools participating in the Float Your Boat project. Each boat that a student worked on is packed into a large box with a batch of other boats, and will be put on an ice floe along with an SVP (Surface Velocity Program) buoy. These buoys report their position and temperature back to a satellite that relays the data to scientists tracking their movement. So at least for the coming winter, boxes of Float Your Boats will be trackable as long as the buoy deployed with each batch is transmitting. We put out boxes #1 and #2 on an ice floe four days ago, and left boxes #3 and #4 on the ice today as we concluded the ice station. Boxes 5, 6, and 7 await suitable ice down the line, and then they will all be adrift on the Arctic ice pack for the winter or perhaps longer.

    Float your boat boats
    Decorated wooden boats are boxed up for deployment on an ice floe as part of the Float Your Boat project.

    SVP buoy
    Paul Aguilar with an SVP buoy that will de deployed with Float Your Boat boxes on an ice floe.

    Putting float your boat boxes and SVP buoy on ice
    A USCGC Healy crew member places Float Your Boat boxes and an SVP buoy on the ice.

    Eventually, the ice will melt from under the boxes of boats, releasing them into the Arctic Ocean to drift as the cardboard disintegrates. If they eventually wash ashore and are picked up, the finder can report where the boat made landfall to the Float Your Boat web page. Link on over to see what’s going on with this project and to watch how the SVP buoys are moving with the pack ice after we drop them off!

    Float your boat boxes and SVP buoy
    As we depart a sampling station we get a parting view of Float Your Boat boxes beginning their ride on the Arctic ice.


    If the Float Your Boats stay in the Arctic Ocean, what are the possible countries where they could wash ashore?

    Aloft Con web cam updated every hour
    Healy Track

    That's all for now. Best- Bill

    Weather Summary
    Overcast and very cold, fresh breeze. Air Temp. 8° F, Wind 22 MPH, Wind Chill -12°F
    8° F
    Wind Speed
    22 MPH
    Wind Chill
    -12° F


    Bill Schmoker

    Hi Bolli Thor- this is outstanding news!!
    I'm sure my students will be thrilled to hear about this- could you email
    me a few pics of the boat? If possible, I'd also love a rough
    Latitude/Longitude and maybe a picture of the coast where you found it.

    It is amazing to think of the trip this and other drifters take across the
    polar region with the drifting ice pack, and wonderful to have tangible
    evidence from recoveries like this.

    Please feel free to reply directly to my email if you can send pics etc.:

    Thanks, & Best- Bill Schmoker