ISPOL-Logbook3: 14 - 15 November, 2004
The ice edge, finally! Its not only that Polarstern's scientists are longing for their icy working place to come which made them feel good about all the sea ice around the vessel; there are still 1000 km to go before we reach our final destination.
It's more the smooth going of the ship that gives us relief. There is little or no swell in ice-covered water. The change for the better came even before the ice edge was in sight. Although Polarstern had to face a storm of 9 Beaufort this was less torturing than the 5 shaky days before due to a huge swell. The ice sheltered, prevented long swells which are bound to irritate man's organ of balance
Of course there are more reasons to be happy about entering the endless white desert. Adelie Penguins stuck together their heads when Polarstern broke her way through the floes and snow white storm petrel criss-crossed over the bow of Polarstern. Nobody is happier to see them than Hauke Flores, the only scientist on board dealing with "vertebrates". He would not be unhappy if one bird would offer its stomach content to him. Flores is challenging the prevailing theory that krill is the one and only basis for Antarctic life. Birds and sea mammals might tell another story, if they are asked properly.
Scientist on board of Polarstern came along with many hypotheses. And some questions are so elusive because they keep on showing investigators their icy shoulders. Green icebergs for example. At the very first day in ice the "helmsman" announced, via loudspeaker, a green iceberg drifting ahead. All of a sudden, a group of experts gathered on the bridge discussing the matter. What makes them green? Not algae, that's for sure. But what else? Is there some mineral stuff in it, or is it that the absorption of light is different in the marine ice? It is known that green icebergs are not made of compressed snow like all the others.
The discussions came to an end like the forward movement of Polarstern. The northern outskirt of the ice belt is already showing signs of melting; the broken floes almost stick to the sides of the ship. The vessel had to break its way and several times more than one attempt were needed. The low speed gave plenty of time to collect the first ice cores via helicopter.
Quotation of the day: A crewmember came to the bridge watching the manoeuvres of Polarstern to find her way through the sticky ice: "If we meet polar bears, we can be sure that we've lost our way"