Danish-Swedish-Canadian Expedition reaches the North Pole
Received from Christian Marcussen, GEUS, Chief Scientist
Web-edition, Torsten Hoelstad, GEUS
August 22, 2009
On board the Swedish icebreaker Oden
Position: 90°N, North Pole
Weather: -2° C, light westerly wind, overcast
During a cruise in the Arctic Ocean with the Swedish icebreaker Oden, a Danish-Swedish-Canadian expedition reached the geographical North Pole on August 22 at 21:04 (UTC). The aim of the expedition is to collect scientific data for the Danish and Canadian Continental Shelf projects in order to document claims for an extended continental shelf to the north of Greenland and Canada beyond the present 200 nautical mile zone.
The North Pole was covered by 10/10 of sea ice and Oden had to break through partly heavy sea ice as also in the weeks before the arrival at the North Pole.
A total of 60 crew members and scientist are onboard Oden, which is a 108-m-long polar icebreaker with a power of 25.000 hp. The cruise started in Longyearbyen on Svalbard (Norway) on July 31 and is scheduled to end at the same location on September 10.
The objective of the expedition is to acquire the necessary documentation to extend the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles according to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The area around the North Pole was the target area for this year’s mapping program, in which two data types are important: water depths (also called bathymetric data) describing the morphology of the seabed and reflection seismic data used to map the thickness of the sediments below the seabed.
The cruise has now passed its half-way point and the achievements made so far include:
- Using the advanced multibeam echo sounder onboard Oden, very detailed bathymetric maps of the Lomonosov Ridge were produced in areas that are of interest to Canada and Greenland. Additional echo sounder measurements were carried out on the sea ice, utilizing the onboard helicopter.
- The sediment thickness in the Amundsen and the Makarov basins were determined by short reflection seismic profiles. These data give an indication of the thickness of the sediments below the seabed and can be used to plan a future cruise to the area. Due to the prevailing ice conditions Oden cannot collect seismic data along long and straight lines. This would require a second ship breaking the ice for Oden – a concept used under the first LOMROG expedition in 2007.
- The Earth’s gravity field is measured continuously by the onboard gravimeter along Oden‘s route.
- Regular measurements of the sound velocity in water are carried out to calibrate the multibeam echo sounder. At the same time, water samples were taken down to depths of 4400 m.
Several science projects covering geology, biology and oceanography are attached to the LOMROG II expedition. These projects are carried out by institutions in Denmark, Sweden, Greenland and the USA and involve the collection of geological, biological, water and ice samples.
The LOMROG II cruise is carried out in cooperation with the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat and the University of Stockholm. As in numerous earlier expeditions to the area north of Greenland, the Oden cruise continues the excellent collaboration between the Danish and Canadian continental shelf projects. A Russian scientist from VNIIOkeangeologia in St. Petersburg was invited to the cruise as well. The participation of scientist from different countries represents the spirit of Arctic cooperation that was also expressed at the meeting of the five ministers of foreign affairs in Ilulissat (Greenland) last year.
The Danish Continental Shelf Project is imbedded within the Danish Ministry for Science, Technology and Innovation. The following Danish institutions participate in the cruise: Danish Agency for Maritime Safety, DTU – Space, Danish Meteorological Institute, University of Aarhus and Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (as project manager for the Greenland part of the Danish Continental Shelf Project).