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Dispatch 10: Fire and Ice

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September 15th Photos
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Hugo Sindelar

September 15, 2018

Location: 73° 30′ N 132° 37′ W

Weather: -7°C (19°F), Mostly sunny, seas ice covered, Northwest winds at 8 knots, seawater temperature 0.3°C (32.5°F)

Sea Ice: Complete coverage of the ocean surface and thick ice

Believe it or not, I haven’t seen an episode of Game of Thrones nor read any of George R.R. Martin’s novels, but the series did inspire the title of this dispatch.  After leaving Mooring site D yesterday, we steamed through the night and just as the sun set we hit ice again.  Since then, the sea ice has been plentiful and thick. We have had to stop numerous times, back up, hit the throttle and slam into the ice to break through it.  In fact, the decision was made during the day to call off our efforts to reach science station, CB-51.  This particular station is one of the more eastern stations and this year it resides in an area with thick ice floes.  The CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent could make it to the station but it would come at a high cost of both gas and time.  Instead, we decided to do a rosette cast about halfway to CB-51, aptly named CB-51W.  We then immediately started steaming north to CB-40.

Now staying with the Game of Thrones theme, the “fire” of Arctic sunsets is really something to behold.  Because we are so far North, it takes the sun far longer to set than places further South.  Sometimes the sunset colors have lasted more than an hour, allowing plenty of time to take it all in.  The sun also seems to have a hazier red quality here, giving the sky a fiery look and the ice a red/magenta glow.  Check out the pictures to see what I mean.  This unique quality of light is not something I have ever encountered before.

And that wasn’t the only unique light we have had the pleasure of seeing.  The northern lights put on quite a show last night.  While the colors weren’t very perceptible to the naked eye, a few of us watched for an hour as the lights rippled across the sky, ebbing and flowing in beautiful ribbon patterns.  We even caught the occasional glimpse of red and purple in among the greyish-green light.  And the true magic was revealed in the photographs everyone was taking from the helicopter deck.  Long exposures showed off the vibrant greens that we were having trouble seeing in the darkness.

As our journey continues in the ice for the next few days, you can expect an update soon on our first Ice-Tethered Profile deployment!

Last updated: October 7, 2019

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