11. Field report

Morten Sølvsten and Jon Biggar from the BG-team went in vain to the helicopter in Alert. Unfortunately they could not fly to day.

Alert, 25 April, 2006

Received from Ron Verral and Trine Dahl-Jensen

Edited by Henrik Højmark Thomsen, GEUS

Waiting time and preparations for the work on the last seismic line

22 April, 2006

Weather in Alert: -22, sunny.

The weather here in Alert was fine, but we were not flying to day, because we had bad visibility and low clouds over the whole line area.

The BG-team should have been on the ice to continue the measurements of water depths and gravity along the inner line, which they started on 13 April (read 8. Field report), but it was not possible to fly along the line due to the bad visibility. The ice camp have had decreasing weather all day and at 17:00, they had 20-25 knot wind, snow and the temperature had increased to only -6. It is very warm and unusual at this time of the year. This may not seem warm, if you are basking in 20 degree temperatures, but if you hope for a cold snap to put a lid of ice over open water, -6 degrees is disgustingly hot. The open leads, of course, “boil” off water vapour into the air, and this vapour ends up as fog and cloud that bedevil the aircraft.

We have decided to shut down the drift seismic station at the ice camp to reduce the amount of equipment there, so it can be removed quickly from the ice if the conditions should worsen. The two operators Mike Gorveatt and Greg Middleton will start packing down the station as soon as the weather allows.

Data download from the receivers is completed and sections for the outer line are being printed. We are happy to see, that the data quality is fine.

23 April, 2006

Weather in Alert: -12, snow.

It is snowing, and we have had no change to fly with the helicopters to day. However the Twin Otter had visited the ice camp twice. It is hauling out explosives to be use on our last seismic line – the so called cross line running east-west perpendicular to the two other lines we already have measured along. On its return flights, it has brought back the equipment from the drift seismic station and unneeded tents.

Map showing the three seismic lines we shall do measurements along. Two lines in continuation of each other stretching south-north from the Greenland coast and out into the Arctic Ocean – the so called inner line nearest to the coast and the outer line. We have finished our measurements along both these lines. Crossing these lines we have the so called cross line, which we will start measuring along.

Dorothy Edwards our favourite cook in the small kitchen in the Spinnaker building. The thoughtful look on her face suggests that she is “adjusting the season”.

Martin Blicker looking at water samples in the small lab in the Spinnaker building in Alert. The samples were collected 21 April at the ice camp. Together with Søren Ryesgaard he is investigating the importance of sea ice in transporting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to the ocean.

Søren Ryesgaard taking a little brake from the lab work.

24 April, 2006

Weather in Alert: -19, sunny in the morning, later snow.

The weather is still bad, and again we have had a day with no helicopter flying. The Twin Otter on the other hand has been on missions. The northern cache, which we used during the operations on the outer line, is now empty. Furthermore the pilots have found a new landing strip on the cross line, where we will make a new cross line cache for fuel and explosives to be used during the coming operations on the line. The first load of fuel and explosives are now left there together with a satellite beacon, which is continuously sending its positions to Alert.

All our contact with the south is via geosynchronous satellite. However, we are so far north that these satellites, which are directly over the equator, cannot be seen from Alert; the satellite is below the southern horizon. All data has to be routed through Eureka via microwave. Eureka, which is a weather station, is just a little farther south than Alert, and its parabolic dish can just see the satellite – if said antenna is mounted on a very high hill.

In this way we can send e-mails and exchange data with the south. Ron Verral is an experienced polar fox, and he has been working many years in the Arctic with Alert as a base. Ron writes about the new ways of communications: “It is amusing to see people walking around with their USB memory sticks in their hands. They exchange digital pictures and other files with these sticks, and they always take them down to the ’email room’ so that they can quickly save their incoming email. The expression, “He’s lost his memory” now has quite a different meaning than it used to”, and he continues: “Perhaps not in my case.”

The Twin Otter crew have flown many important missions for us. The pilot Jim Haffey (left) and the co-pilot Gabriel Lluberas (mid) have used their great experience to find the many landing strips on the ice, which we have used as caches, and they have ferried out explosives and fuel to the caches in weather that was not terribly pleasant. To the right is engineer Kevin Riehl, who made sure that the Twin Otter was always in good repair.

Peer Jørgensen (in the middle) is watching the Twin Otter loading for Eureka together with Dave Snyder (left) and Kelly Bentham (right).

25 April, 2006

Weather in Alert: -22, snow.

All bad weather seems to be collected here. Once again a day without helicopter flying, but the Twin Otter has been ferrying out explosives and fuel to the new cache on the cross line. We have now explosives and fuel enough in the cache to start the work on the last seismic line, when weather permits.

Later the Twin Otter left for the weather station Eureka farther south to do a crew change for both Twin Otter and helicopter crews. The Twin Otter pilots are going south for a bit of a vacation – as are the helicopter pilots. Also going south are the three engineers that keep the Twin Otter and the helicopters running. At Eureka they will board a second Twin Otter, which has arrived from south with new crews. The pilots bringing up this second Twin Otter will then fly ‘our’ plane back to Alert with the new crews. Dave Snyder from Geological Survey of Canada and Kelly Bentham also went south with the Twin Otter. Dave is a scientist, and he has been working hard at preparing the instruments for the ice and recovering the data from them, when they returned. Kelly is our photographer, who has taken lots of pictures of our work.

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