Edge of the Arctic Shelf
Daily Update
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John Kemp scrubs the mooring spheres clean with high pressure water.
Click to enlarge

Daily Update

Dispatch 19 - September 28, 2003
By C. A. Linder

Weather conditions: Fog, 10 kt winds, 1-2 ft seas, air temperature 34°F

Cruising in the Clouds
An intermittent droning woke me up this morning. Sunday mornings are normally very quiet on the ship, since crewmembers not on watch have the day off. As I looked out the porthole in my room I immediately understood - it was the foghorn. I could barely see the horizon; sky melted into water. As we steamed south, back towards Barrow, we stopped intermittently for CTD casts.

After lunch, the fog began to break into patches, and as the sun hit them beautiful fogbows appeared out of the mist. A fogbow is very similar to a rainbow, except formed by the fine water droplets in fog instead of raindrops. The colors of a rainbow are formed by light refracting through the water droplets. Large drops cause the brightest colors. As the droplets decrease in size, wave interference causes the colors to overlap. The combination of colors results in a bright white arc - the fogbow.

While the CTD crew was busy collecting new data, the mooring redeployment preparations continued. John Kemp gave the floats a good scrubbing, taking off layers of sharp barnacles. Marshall Swartz worked on the CTD calibrations, ensuring that the instruments will make accurate measurements when they are deployed. The data analysis also continued.

Fogbow & flag CTD & sun
A fogbow arches over the bow mast.
Image taken at 12:30PM.
The sun breaks through the fog.
Image taken at 2PM the same day!
Click to enlarge Click to enlarge

Here are some excellent questions about our arctic environment from Mr. Jarvi's 5th grade class at Varnum Brook Elementary School.

Question: What is the coldest recorded temperature?
Answer: The lowest recorded temperature on Earth was measured at Vostock II, Antarctica. The temperature was -128.6°F on July 21, 1983. Since the Arctic Ocean's climate is moderated by the ocean, just like Cape Cod, the low temperatures only reach -40°F to -70°F during an Arctic winter. While this seems pretty cold, keep in mind that New England can get pretty cold, too... The lowest recorded temperature on the summit of Mount Washington, New Hampshire was -47°F - very comparable to the Arctic!

Question: Is it dark out there or light out?
Answer: Right now we are having about the same amount of daylight and darkness as you are in Pepperell (about 11.5 hours). The sun rose at 8:13 AM and it set at 7:42 PM. However, every passing day means less and less daylight - about 9 minutes for us but only 3 minutes for you. By the time we pull into Nome, Alaska on October 19th, we will only have about 9 hours of daylight.

Question: What is the warmest day you have had out there?
Answer: The warmest day we have had was on September 22, when the thermometer hit 37.4°F. The coldest it has been so far has been 25.4°F. Today it felt quite warm when I was walking around deck. You know you've been in the Arctic for a while when 34°F feels warm!

Tonight the sky was aflame with color as the sun sank below the horizon. We are hoping the old sailors' adage holds true - "Red sky at night, sailors' delight!" Keep those great questions coming!

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