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Dispatch 25: Farewell

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Hugo Sindelar

October 1, 2018

Location: 70° 32’ N 122° 55’ W

Weather: -8°C (30.6°F), Mostly cloudy, seas 3 - 4 meters (10-13 feet), Northeast winds at 34 knots, seawater temperature -0.8°C (30.6°F)

Sea Ice: None

We cleared the thick ice floes early this afternoon and are now steaming at full power back to Kugluktuk in hopes of making our flights back home tomorrow.  Mother Nature keeps showing us who is boss up here as we are now in the midst of large swells and gale force winds.  Packing all my film gear has never been so “exciting.”  Nothing like trying to move a large case filled with expensive gear around a rolling ship.  Hopefully, everyone on board can get some sleep tonight as tomorrow will be a busy day.

With our ice-caused delay, reaching Kugluktuk tomorrow in time for our flights will be a bit tight, and they will likely have to fly us off the ship before we officially set anchor.  There is some possibility that science staff with early connecting flights may have to leave a few days later when the crew changes out on Thursday.  Due to the limited time, we have been told to be ready to leave early in the morning and that we need to move efficiently to ensure that as many people as possible make their connecting flights.  In light of this, it is time to say farewell.

What an (almost) month it has been.  It feels like just yesterday we were leaving Kugluktuk and heading towards AG-5, our first science station.  Having never been this far North or lived for long periods on a ship the size of the CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent, this trip was full of new experiences that I will not soon forget – standing on only a few feet of sea ice that is the only thing between you and a 3,800 meter deep ocean, watching the northern lights play and dance across the night sky in undulating ribbons of light, listening and feeling an ice breaker do battle with sea ice for hours on end, and churning her way slowly through large unbroken pans of thick ice.

I want to thank Rick Krishfield and Ken Kostel at WHOI for inviting me to write the dispatches and film all of the science operations on the ship, and to Bill Williams and Sarah Zimmermann from IOS for including me on the JOIS cruise.  And of course, a huge thank you goes to all the scientists, officers, and crew onboard for allowing me to film their lives and work while on the ship.  I enjoyed learning about everyone’s work from the engineers that keep the ship running, to the deck crew who assist with mooring operations, and of course, the scientists who spend late nights running instrumentation to ensure the cruise gathers as much data as humanly possible in 27 days.  Everyone plays a part in making the cruise a success.  And I sincerely appreciate their willingness to participate in my film project.

The Arctic is changing.  The work of the BGOS/JOIS expedition in conjunction with countless other scientists around the world has shown that the Arctic is warming and the standard shifting patterns in the Beaufort Gyre of storing freshwater for a few years then releasing it for a few years has apparently shifted to a consistent regime of storing freshwater (since 1997).  Whether this pattern is permanent and its effect on our climate are still unknown.  Continued monitoring of the Beaufort Gyre is necessary to try to better understand this system and how it could affect global weather and climate.  Science, especially oceanography and climate studies, is a slow affair.  It takes years to gather enough data to form reliable conclusions about complex earth systems.  My hope is that those reading these dispatches will continue to support and advocate for long-term science programs such as this expedition.  They are critical to better understanding our planet now and how it might change in the future.

Signing off for the final time from the CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent steaming towards home at the end of her expedition at the top of the world.

Thank you for following along,
Hugo Sindelar

P.S.  Keep an eye on Ocean Media Institute’s website ( and social media channels for updates about my film.  With plenty of photographs and footage to sort through, it will take some time to get it put together.  But I am excited to dive into the film and share it with you when it is done!

Last updated: October 7, 2019

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