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30 June 2002 - Science in the Arctic

RRS James Clark Ross Diary

Position at 1200: 80° 37.7'S, 008° 24.9'E (northwest of Svalbard in the Arctic)
Distance steamed since Grimsby (10/09/01): 52219 Nautical Miles
Air temperature: 3.4°C; Sea temperature: 0.7°C

Way Up North.....

Firstly apologies to all our regular readers for the lack of a diary for last week, you could say things were a little busy with all the science activities going on. In fact, there are so many and varied science activities going on that we've had to make a special science page for this week's diary to allow us to include all the photographs and stuff that we wanted to.

Read on for the diary page, or click for the science pages.

So, firstly a bit of a catch-up of the last two weeks....

When we last spoke on the 16th of June the James Clark Ross was just south of the Shetland Islands and heading for the western coast of Norway and the first science station. That was at a place called Sula Ridge half way up the Norwegian coast where there are coral reefs which the team have placed a piece of equipment to photograph the sea bed. We will pickup this "Lander" on our way back to the UK.

Then it was off northwards properly, crossing the Arctic Circle (66 deg 33' N) on the afternoon of the 18th and into the land of the midnight sun. The picture below shows our last sunset until we head south once more for which we thank John Derrick.

Last Sunset? Click to enlargeThe last sunset before 24 hour daylight. Click on the image to enlarge.

This wasn't the end of our journey by any means, though our first work area lay just north of the "circle" on the Voring Plateau. Most of the ships operations were to be conducted within Kongsfjord (Svalbard) and to the west of it at around 79 degrees north. That is far higher in latitude than the ship can go when in the Antarctic, as this strange stuff called land gets in the way down South. Here in the Arctic it is possible to sail to the North Pole, well you could if you just happened to have a huge ice breaker with enormous amounts of power to carve out a path for us. We, however, are only ice strengthened, a subtle but important difference.

Glacier in Kongsfjord. Click to enlargeA Glacier running down into Kongsfjord. Click the image to enlarge it.

That would be dreaming and is not on our itinerary for this trip. However, Kongsfjord in Svalbard is, and we must thank the science party for taking us there, not only for the wonderful scenery, but for the opportunity to visit the scientific research station at Ny-Ålesund. We are going to call at the station not once, but twice. The first time last Monday was a brief one to drop some personnel off. The next time, on Tuesday of next week, is for a reception so we've decided to leave a detailed account of Ny-Ålesund for next week.

Our time in the fjord was not without incident as the lander that was deployed to measure oxygen in the bottom sediments decided that it did not want to come back or rather it was stuck in the mud! The recovery is detailed in the science pages, but needless to say required some skillful ship handling on behalf of the Captain once the dredging wire had been lowered to the seabed. As can be seen it was finally released from it's "sticky" situation. The photograph below shows our Bosun, George Stewart, demonstrating his grappling line skills to reconnect the lander to the ship.

Grappling line heading for the landers recovery rope. Click to enlargeGrappling line heading for the landers recovery rope. Click image to enlarge.

Unfortunately this was not to be the last of the lander's "sticky" situations as despite taking measures to stop it happening again, it once more became stuck on the seabed at the next station. This time our attempts at dredging for it were not successful, though as this is being typed we are heading back to the station concerned to have another attempt overnight tonight. That is if the weather holds out, which it may not as the wind has started to blow as we head for our goal. Watch This Space!

Our big news of the day occurred at 09:49 GMT this morning when the James Clark Ross reached her farthest north position so far, having attained a position of 80° 46.3836' North. That is 17.9 miles further than obtained three years ago. It is understood that the Bridge celebrated with tea and biscuits for all!

Music while you work!

We've heard about music on watch, but this has got to be taking things a little too far! Actually these are some of the activities being found by the science party to occupy their time off. On the left we have Ken Black and John Howe with their Led Zeppelin impression and on the right we have Colin Griffiths with the electronic drums, thankfully not a real full set, otherwise he'd be sent to the deepest hold for everyone else's sanity.

John and Kenny on the Guitars. Click to enlarge Colin on the drums. Click to enlarge

Above: Left: John and Kenny on the Guitars - Music to swath by! Right: Colin on the drums (with headphones - thank you). Click on the images to enlarge them.

Teams of the Week

Kim and John, this weeks 12~4 team on the bridge. Click to enlargeWe thought we'd include a few people this week and show you the Bridge teams, so we'll start with the 12~4 of Kim Cooling (2nd Officer) and John McGowan (AB).

Robert and Marc, this weeks 4~8 team on the bridge. Click to enlargeAt four o'clock Kim and John escape to leave the bridge in the hands of the 4~8 of Robert Paterson (Chief Officer) and Marc Blaby (AB).

Mike and Jim, this weeks 8~12 team on the bridge. Click to enlargeLast, but not least we have the 8~12 of Mike Golding (3rd Officer) and Jim Baker (AB).