Edge of the Arctic Shelf
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Anchor first
Ryan Schrawder (left) and John Kemp (right) guide the mooring anchor over the side during the anchor-first deployment of BS3 today.
Click to enlarge

Daily Update

Dispatch 26 - October 5, 2003
By C. A. Linder

Weather conditions: Mostly cloudy skies, 25 kt winds, 4-6 ft seas, air temperature 28°F

Mission Accomplished
One, Three, Two, done! The WHOI mooring team made a clean sweep today by finishing the mooring array deployment. We started with the shallowest mooring, BS1. This mooring is different from the others. Since the water is so shallow at this site, the mooring was designed as a tripod frame holding a CTD and ADCP. The frame was built at WHOI using a water jet cutter. This amazing machine cuts aluminum, titanium, anything - using a concentrated jet of water and powdered garnet. It was an easy deployment - we simply lowered it down most of the way to the bottom and released it.

After lunch we cruised past the second mooring spot to the third (BS3), so we could take care of a more complicated mooring. BS3 is special this year because we have included an extra instrument called the arctic winch. This device is like an upside down yo-yo. It is attached to the top mooring float by a line. Twice a day, the yo-yo lets out its CTD (attached to a buoy to make it float). It floats to the surface (or the bottom of the ice), and then it gets reeled back in to the top float. This allows us to measure the water properties from the top of the top float to the underside of the ice. Since we didn't want to damage the arctic winch, John Kemp deployed the mooring anchor-first (usually in open water, moorings are deployed anchor last so that there is less tension on the line). In 26 years of mooring work John has never done an anchor-first deployment in open water, so today was a day of firsts!

The last mooring of the day (BS2) was deployed after dinner, in traditional anchor-last fashion. This was the second shallowest mooring, and as such was very short. In no time at all, the team had the mooring in the water. As night began to fall, John pulled the release and everyone shook hands on the fantail - the mooring marathon was over!

This question comes from Mrs. Werner's 6th grade class at the Morse Pond School. They have been studying the different basins of the Arctic Ocean and the sea life that lives in each realm.

Question from Karen: When I read about the Canadian Basin, I was instantly fascinated. It reminded me of how Australia was isolated during the formation of the continents and therefore the animals were unique. Can you tell me anything about the basin or is there really nothing known? Have any frozen bodies of animals been found?
Answer: I asked Carin Ashjian to answer this question. She is involved in a number of different projects studying the marine life on the arctic shelves and the Canadian Basin.

"We know something about the water column of the Canadian Basin because we've been studying the plankton and chemistry there from ice camps and some limited expeditions. There is communication between the Canadian Basin and other parts of the Arctic in the water column. For example, the mid-depths (200-700 meters or about 1/2 a mile) of the Canadian Basin are filled with water originally from the Atlantic Ocean. And the upper 200 meters also is mixed with water from other regions. However, we don't know that much about the animals in the deep-sea of the Canadian Basin and who knows what we might find!"

Cotter pins Full monty
Cotter pins - they keep the mooring hardware in place. Mooring BS2 ready to go - a view from the anchor to the top float.
Click to enlarge Click to enlarge

Tim from Mrs. Cadwell's class at Varnum Brook Elementary School has this question:
Question: How long until you can call your mission a success?
Answer: Hi, Tim. We can call the mission a success as of today! The primary goals of this year's cruise were to extract the moorings that we deployed last year, retrieve the data, and put the moorings back in the water. We just put the last mooring in the water this evening. Now we will be peforming one last CTD section along the mooring line, and perhaps sampling some deeper water on the edge of the Canadian Basin.

This question is from Peter from Holly Springs, North Carolina.
Question: Have you seen any other ships? If so, from what country?
Answer: Although I haven't seen any, last night the bridge watchstanders saw the lights of the Canadian icebreaker Laurier in the distance. They are also on a scientific mission only 40 miles from us. The Canadian icebreaker Louis S. St-Laurent also just completed an expedition to the Beaufort Sea (read dispatches and see photos from this expedition here), and Russian icebreakers frequently undertake scientific and tourist expeditions as far north as the Pole. The other US Coast Guard icebreakers, Polar Star and Polar Sea, are currently in their home port of Seattle getting ready for a trip to Antarctica.

Tonight the mooring crew (and Bob Pickart) will be sleeping soundly, knowing that the WHOI mooring array is working away beneath the waves, collecting data for another year.

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