October 19, 2016
This note comes from the Edmonton Airport, heading home to Victoria BC. It is quiet with no more boxes to pack or labs to empty.
Our last slew of stations were closely spaced as the ship traveled south towards the coast, not too far from the Northwest Territories’ hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk. The more stations, the better the resolution of the highly variable water structure found along the continental shelf and slope. The drawback is that the group needs to squeeze in the analysis of the water samples from these stations, pack and say goodbye in the limited time before getting off in Kugluktuk, Nunavut. But hey, with 3 weeks of experience behind us the process was as efficient as it gets and now we have a nice section to be proud of in the data set.
The ship’s track this year was similar to last year’s, working counter-clockwise around the Canada Basin, bringing us to the northern region as quickly as possible to make the best use of the fading winter-is-near daylight that we need for on-ice buoy placements. With this years reduced ice-cover (tied in second place with 2007 for the lowest concentration of sea-ice, 2012 was first place) we only had one on-ice station. This meant two of the ice-buoys had to be deployed over the side of ship in open water and two others, that needed in-ice installation, weren’t able to be placed. The three moorings, tricky operations in ice but also in open water if there is any swell, spaced to cover the deep Beaufort Sea, were successfully recovered and redeployed. We completed 65 rosette/CTD casts at 53 locations, interspersed with 59 expendable CTDs (XCTDs), took zooplankton net tows, both to 100 and 500m, at 31 locations and deployed 40 ocean-drifters.
This 14th year of the program will be interesting to look at in terms of the volume of low-salinity water in the Beaufort Gyre. The data from this program will be used to study of the source of the low-salinity water, the process holding the accumulated volume in the Beaufort Sea, the physical, geochemical and biological components of the water, the changes over the 14 year time-series and connections to the reduced ice-cover.
Many thanks to Captain Duffett and the crew of the CCGS Louis S St-Laurent who made this all possible, the helicopter pilot and engineer, the Canadian Ice Service for their ice-imagery, to Peter Lourie for his trip reporting, and to the excellent science team. In addition to WHOI and Fisheries and Oceans Canada, participants (on board plus on shore) are from 14 universities and research laboratories from Canada, USA and Japan, all bringing their expertise and interest to the project.