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Dispatch 5: The Lost ITP Triple Crown and 24-hour Science

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Hugo Sindelar

September 10, 2018

I woke up this morning at 5:00 a.m. to sounds that can only be described as a washing machine meets nails on a chalkboard.  We finally found a large section of thicker sea ice, and these sounds were a constant presence on the ship today as the CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent battled to find her way through the ice floes.  I spent an hour this morning up on “Monkey Island”, which is essentially the roof of the ship’s bridge.  The views were spectacular with ice all around and dappled light playing across the vast ocean as pure blue sky poked through an intermittent cloud layer.

Around lunchtime we arrived at the last known location of the third and final Ice-Tethered Profiler (ITP) in the region.  Finding the previous two ITPs was a breeze as they had migrated to open ocean, where it is relatively easy to spot a large yellow buoy against the dark blue Arctic waters.  This ITP was in amongst the sea ice.  The ice’s undulating ridges and valleys made it quite difficult to spot the buoy, and the last position update we got was over 12 hours old.  With the sea ice always on the move, the buoy could be a mile or more away from its previous location.  After an hour of searching with binoculars from the ship, the decision was made to launch the helicopter.  The Ice Observers estimated where the buoy was based on the current ice movements, and they created a search grid for the pilot to fly.  Accompanying the pilot on the search were Jeff O’Brien from WHOI, Guillaume Paradis, an Ice Observer, Andrew Gidge, the Second Officer, and Raphael Gavioli, a Navigation Cadet.  The helicopter spent about an hour in the air searching the grid, but alas, the Triple Crown of ITP recoveries was not meant to be.  No buoy was ever spotted. During the search, however, we did spot the first polar bear of the trip from the ship!  It wanted nothing to do with the large red thing following it, and quickly sprinted further into the sea ice.  Quite the sight to see, when you have never seen one.  A large animal living on the sea ice, miles and miles away from land.

As the helicopter searched for the ITP, the second CTD rosette station was completed, CB-1.  This marked the start of 24-hour science on board the CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent.  From now on, a CTD station will be performed every 4–6 hours, assuming the weather holds, and we can keep steaming at reasonable speed.  The CTD rosette teams have split into a day and night shifts.  The day shift is on from 12:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. and the night shift from 12:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.  The science areas of the boat sure are quieter as the serious work has begun and science members have changed their sleeping schedules to accommodate the around the clock effort.  As we move to a more consistent schedule of constant work, you can expect more in-depth profiles of the science, scientists, and instruments on the cruise!

Last updated: October 7, 2019

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