Please note: You are viewing the unstyled version of this website. Either your browser does not support CSS (cascading style sheets) or it has been disabled. Skip navigation.

Disptach 10: On Ice

   Print Change text to small (default) Change text to medium Change text to large

Related Multimedia

September 15th Photos
» View Slideshow

David Jones and Andrey Proshutinsky

September 15, 2017

Weather: 93 % cloud cover, 15-20 knot winds, heavy ice covered seas, light snow

Temperature: -9 ˚C

Relative humidity: 93%

Location: Beaufort Sea, 80˚ 55’ N; 132˚ 16’ W


Late last night we arrived at our now most northern point and first ice station which meant we would be on ice for a good chunk of the day. Our first ice station was coincidently our first Polar Bear sighting: a mother and two cubs. Because the ice was in the 1-2 meter thick range, it was decided to do all of the "ice ops" right off of the starboard side using the gangway for deploying the people and ship’s crane for moving the heavy equipment onto the ice. Luckily the bears were spotted about 300 meters off the port side but an armed lookout was sent out on the ice first. Two teams spent about four hours on the ice, the ice survey team and the ITP deployment team.

During the latter part of yesterday a helicopter reconnaissance flight determined that there was no suitable ice for the ITP deployment so we steamed on through the night. We were treated to an extraordinary sunset late in the evening–one that you will only ever see in the high Arctic. Please see the photo gallery for pictures from the day’s activities.

Chemistry timeout

Alright, back to some solution chemistry (chemisery??). So the amount of hydronium ions present in a solution dictates how acidic or basic a solution is. Now this is where the infamous pH scale comes in. I am certain that chemists came up with the pH scale in order to confuse everyone as much as possible. Actually the intent was to simplify the whole acid base thing but one could argue it made it much harder to learn.

So dig it: we count molecules in a quantity called a "mole" (don't ask). For solutions we talk about moles of a particular molecule per 1 liter of a solution, so moles/liters or abbreviated mol/L. We can have 1 mole of H3O+ in 1 liter of solution which is considered to be very acidic. You would expect the pH number to be large to reflect the fact that it is very acidic BUT Noooooo..... 1 mole of H3O+ in 1 liter of solution actually has a pH number of 0. Here is how it works: 1 mole of H3O+ in 1 liter of solution can also be written as 10^0 mol H3O+/L. A .1 mole of H3O+ in 1 liter of solution can be written as 10^-1 mol H3O+/L and has a pH of 1. A .001 mole of H3O+ in 1 liter of solution can be written as 10^-2 mol H+/L and has a pH of 2. So do you see whats shakin' here? The number in the exponent is the pH number with the negative sign removed. And that is why then the more acidic a solution, the lower the pH number and the higher the concentration (mol/L) of the H3O+ ions. As to what this implies; we will get to that next time.

Last updated: October 7, 2019

whoi logo

Copyright ©2007 Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, All Rights Reserved, Privacy Policy.
Problems or questions about the site, please contact