Researchers of IMARES sail on board the German Research Icebreaker ‘Polarstern’ for investigations in the sea-ice areas of the Weddell Sea. Read about the first three weeks of the expedition in the blog of Jan Andries van Franeker.
Photo: The ICEFLUX team at work on the first icecamp: Julia, Giulia, André and Antondrilling in the ice. Lots of ice-cores and water samples were successfully taken.
Cruise track Polarstern
By tomorrow, our Antarctic expedition is three weeks on its way. Those weeks were simply too busy to write messages home earlier. From Cape Town Polarstern went southwest to the 0° Greenwich Meridian. From there we are following that 0° meridian straight to the south until we almost hit Antarctica. We’ve progressed most of this track, and today we had an sea-ice station at 69°S.
Fishing underneath the ice
During this first period we have worked intensively on preparations and tests of all our gear, among which of course our Surface & Under-Ice Trawl (SUIT). But in the cooperative ICEFLUX project between the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) and IMARES, project leader Hauke Flores has significantly expanded our field of work. We now also deploy the Multi-Rectangular-Midwater-Trawl (M-RMT), a large net that goes down to 1000m depth and is able to subsequently open three different sets of nets to sample at discrete depth ranges.
Taking samples and counting
Our group further runs detailed studies on the sea-ice, taking ice-cores and using the drilling holes in ice to study and sample the under ice environment on small scales. On board we have an echosounder almost continuously running to document presence of swarms of fish or krill at depth. From our ‘bird-boxes’ on the Monkey Deck, and sometimes from helicopter, we conduct surveys of marine birds and mammals. In short, we run of lot of activities that keep our team busy day and night. Together in ICEFLUX we try to gather knowledge on the importance of sea-ice for the food webs in the polar oceans.
Our first sea-ice encounter on this trip was already at 56.5°S, and thus we have already travelled about 1300 km into the ice. Most depressions with rough weather now run to the north of us in the roaring 40s and 50s latitudes.The sea-ice landscapes continue to be magical, as are the animals living in it, both under and above the water. This will continue for considerable time, because we will resupply the Neumayer Station in the next few days, and will then move across the Weddell Sea towards the Antarctic Peninsula. It will likely take a month before we re-enter really unfrozen waters. For us, a white Christmas is guaranteed.
From Polarstern, from all of us, we wish you a wonderful Christmas.