The cruise track has been changed. Rather than at the end of the expedition we now first sail straight east in the direction of South Georgia, and thus it will be further to the east before we turn south to our real target, the Weddell Sea sea-ice.
Photo: Already on first day at sea, just before sunset, the first hour of bird-surveys was completed.
Change of plans
Our intended ice-stations require larger and solid ice-floes. In the initial plan we intended to enter the sea-ice in the outflow of the Weddell Sea close to the Antarctic Peninsula. There however, accumulation of heavily broken multi-year sea ice seems to be so strong that even Polarstern might have problems in reaching the larger floes further in.
Sediment trap and testing of nets
It is expected that such problems are less severe to the east, and in that situation the job we have to do near South Georgia fits better at the start of the cruise. We will pick up a mooring with sediment trap that has been operational for a year. We will use the open water opportunity to test nets like SUIT, and practise procedures that cannot suffer failure once we are in the ice!
Last Tuesday in Punta Arenas the weather unexpectedly turned favourable. In low winds and nice winter sun we were able to empty our boxes container and installed the bird observation posts on the high ‘Monkey-deck’ on Polarstern. That was really lucky, as on the next day, Wednesday the weather returned to its earlier stormy and freezing conditions. We had to embark Polarstern in Cabo Negro, a refuel position to the north of Punta Arenas. Polarstern was positioned at the end of a long pier, that by rules of the fuel company could only be crossed by foot and with safety helmet. As only 9 helmets were available it took a long time before we were all on board. In a cold 8 Bf wind, the waiting was a chilly business.
On our way
The ship is now on its way for 2 days, and everything is running smoothly. Since the wind comes from behind, the ship is not rolling or bouncing heavily, so we have suffered very little from seasickness and the work is easy. Preparations of SUIT, our laboratories and rooms make good progress. Already this evening, at the daily science meeting, we have presented the work of the SUIT-ICEFLUX team. We’ll tell more about that later, hopefully with some video work. For now, we just wanted to let you know that we are really on our way, and that everything runs smoothly.
Jan Andries van Franeker