On behalf of IMARES, on May 19th 2015, Fokje Schaafsma and Michiel van Dorssen departed Bremerhaven on board the icebreaker Polarstern.
In Bremerhaven a tug boat escorts the R/V Polarstern out to sea (photo by Shannon MacPhee)
They are on their way to the Arctic ocean, together with partners from the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) in the cooperative ICEFLUX project. ICEFLUX investigates the important role of sea ice in the food chains of the polar oceans. The current expedition expands the IMARES study from the Antarctic to the Arctic. For this they will be fishing with the Surface and Under Ice Trawl (SUIT) and the Rectangular Midwater Trawl (RMT). The catch will be used to study the abundance and distribution of organisms in the ice covered waters of the Arctic ocean. Samples will be collected and brought to the home institutes to further study the food chain. Sea-ice and sea water samples will be taken to collect information on ice thickness, light transmission through the ice, water temperature etc. This will be done directly from the ice or with several sensors that are mounted in the SUIT frame. This information can be used to study the influence of the environment on the distribution of species.
The expedition is called TRANSSIZ which stands for ‘Transitions in the Seasonal Ice Zone’. The overarching goal of the expedition is to study the effects of climate change on the Arctic ocean. In total there are 51 scientists on board consisting of biologists, geologists, chemists and physicists. In the coming six weeks, all will collect as much samples as possible for their research. So far, the scientists have been busy unpacking their stuff and setting up their working spaces. In the upcoming week Polarstern will arrive at the sea-ice edge.
The real-time position of Polarstern can be viewed at: https://www.awi.de/en/expedition/ships/polarstern.html
All expedition messages can be followed at: http://blogs.helmholtz.de/polarstern/en/