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Dispatch 14: Life on the Louis

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Mengnan Zhao

October 1, 2015


We are now at the northernmost site of our expedition and there is almost no open water around us. I am adjusted now and enjoy the constant shake of the Louis –it gives me a sound sleep especially after a midnight rosette cast. I am lucky to look out at the breathtaking view over the bow of the Louis riding over the ice as I write dispatches in the forward room. So far, we have encountered all types of sea ice, from thin, fragile ice at the beginning of the cruise, to newly formed “pancake” ice (you can easily imagine its shape by this name), and now vast chunks of thicker, older ice. In the path of the Louis, these chunks of ice are broken and flipped over on their sides showing a cross section with snow cover; I will name this “cheesecake” ice.

We were hoping to do another ice station today, but the thick fog did not dissipate after dinner (“dinner” is lunch on board, and “supper” is dinner!). We postponed the ice work until tomorrow and headed to 80 degrees north for a CTD/rosette cast. It has been two weeks since the start of our cruise, and all our scientific studies have been running smoothly thanks to the Louis and her wonderful Captain, Officers and Crew.

The Louis is a large ship (about 120 m in length) built in 1969. Living on the Louis is comfortable – with a gym, sauna, reading room, bar, and excellent ship staff. We have 59 staff with us this year and they are taking good care of us in every aspect. Officers on the bridge skillfully navigate and control the Louis. The engineering department monitors all systems in the engine room. The logistics department supply us with everything we need including linens. The cooks and stewards prepare tasty meals for us each day, with delicious variety – even Chinese food! The helicopter pilot takes us onto the ice. The deck crew are essential in our rosette casts, and mooring work, expertly operating winches and lines and coordinating activities.

On-board life is never boring, and in addition to our work there are always lots of activities. The Styrofoam cups we finished decorating yesterday were sent down to 3000 m depth with the rosette during this morning’s cast. The immense pressure at these depths compressed the cups to only about 1/8 of their original size. Scientist Sarah Zimmerman carefully dried all those cute little cups for us. I must admit that some of us are amazing artists! This is a special souvenir from the Arctic that I will always keep with me.

This evening, Chief Scientist Bill Williams gave us a talk about the progress in our understanding of this regions made during the last ten years of Beaufort Gyre expeditions, from changing freshwater content and ocean stratification to ecosystem, and geochemical processes. It was impressive and exciting to see all these accomplishments and to know that we were contributing more on this expedition.



Last updated: September 14, 2017
 


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