2001 Deployment Complete

Occasional reports from Andy Heiberg at CFS Alert with added details from Rebecca Woodgate

Emailed Monday, April 16, 2001 04:22:37 PDT, by A. Heiberg ____________________________________

Monday 16 April, the weather remains nice, and the HF communications erratic to nonexistent. Today Kelly flies to Resolute in one of the Twin Otters and the rest of us follow tomorrow in the other one. We have some more packing to do, but should have that well completed by evening. I intend to leave as much equipment as possible here for next year. DREA (Canadian Defense Research Establishment Atlantic) has offered space for the purpose. Our relationship with DREA has been extremely beneficial to our operation here at Alert. The generous access to their facilities, equipment and supplies and Jim Milne's support when needed have been invaluable aids to our project. CFS Alert has been very hospitable. Many of our needs have fallen outside of normal hours, but we have enjoyed all the support we needed, and this was provided by an exceptionally accommodating staff.

Sunday 15 April, I had radio contact with the camp in the morning, but by 10 o'clock it was gone. We flew two loads and brought the rest of the equipment and personnel off. So all equipment and personnel are now at Alert, and the North Pole ice station 2001 has been closed and evacuated.

Emailed Saturday, April 14, 2001 10:47:01 GMT, by A. Heiberg ____________________________________

Saturday 14 April ,it is another nice day at Alert. We have clear skies, unlimited visibility, light winds and a temperature of minus 30° C and at 0600 the sun already high in the sky. To the South and West we can see the impressive white and pristine mountains of the Ellesmere interior, to the East, across the Nares Strait, we see the Greenland mountain peaks, also pristinely white, and to the North lies the sea ice as far as we can see. In earlier visits I have seen bears and wolves here, but this year so far the only wildlife are the foxes. They are very abundant this year supposedly because of the prolific lemming population last year. The foxes are a curious bunch. They get into everything and like to haul away your equipment. Yesterday I found that my 8 foot banana sled had been hauled off tens of feet.

Friday 13 April, radio communications with the ice camp are still practically non existent. For a brief moment yesterday evening I could make out a message with the Twin Otter flying up there. They were on the way back from the CTD sampling and reported that they had completed the two remaining stations in the specified locations, and that they would fly back to Alert tomorrow, Saturday, with a load of backhaul. Today I have not tried the radio yet. I expect the Pole aircraft here around 1400. The Otter that is here will leave for the camp about 1000 to allow the camp to tear down and prepare another load by the time he arrives around 1430. After that there should be two more load, that we hope to have off by Sunday night. Now that the 109th squadron is heading for the Antarctica, I am looking for storage for our 4-5 pallets of backhaul.(not full pallets) It is likely to be mid-may before they get picked up. In rough numbers, as of Thursday we had flown 120 hours and used 32,000 liters of bulk fuel.
Hello again: I just finished talking to the camp. Position 89° 28' N, 54° 42' E Yesterday's CTD stations: 85° 01' N, 166° 28' W and 86° 09' N, 171° 16' W. Kelly will be back here at about 2000Z and she has digital photos that we will try to forward today.

 

Sigrid Salo of the NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle. She is working on an instrument called a Precision Infrared Radiometer (PIR manufactured by Eppley), one sensor for an ARGOS buoy, assembled by PMEL and the US Army's Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory that will transmit its data via satellite. The little black "fence" enclosing the platform are solar panels to aid in powering the unit. Also shown are the ubiquitous tools of Arctic Ocean sea ice research: banana sled, shovel, gas-powered ice auger.

Photo by Kelly Falkner, Oregon State University

 

Emailed Friday, April 13, 2001 03:26:36 PDT, by A. Heiberg ____________________________________

Thursday 12 April, another nice day at Alert but again without radio contact with camp. Kelly arrived on schedule at 0930 onboard the Canadian C-130 weekly resupply flight. She was in good spirits despite her travel ordeal. At Alert we waited for the cargo to be sorted hoping that Sigrid's cable (needed for the PMEL/CRREL drifting buoys) had arrived. In the mean time Kelly was briefed on how to collect snow samples for an ongoing Canadian DOE project here at Alert. Sigrid's cable had arrived, and Kelly was off for the North Pole camp by noon. The mooring and JAMSTEC team boarded the C-130 and departed for Trenton Ontario at 1100 hours. When the Otter returned to Alert late evening, I learned that at the Pole they had completed two of the four CTD stations, at these locations: 87° 14' N, 180° E and 89° 00' N, 180° E. They planned to complete the remaining two Friday. Sigrid hopes to finish the PMEL/CRREL buoy installation by the end of the day. I envision 3-4 backhaul loads, and if we have no surprises, hope that everything is off the ice by Sunday evening.

Wednesday 11 April, another nice day at Alert, but again we are frustrated by no HF radio communications. By noon Jamie is off for the camp with his CTD equipment and "his" Twin Otter to commence the CTD sampling along the transect extending roughly in the direction from the North Pole towards Barrow, Alaska. He and Kelly had talked and agreed that if conditions permitted, Jamie would start without her. When Jamie departed he was contemplating another "simple" CTD cast on the way north to the camp. Without radio comms, I don't know whether he accomplished that. At Alert the mooring team and the JAMSTEC team spent the day sorting, packing and palletizing their backhaul equipment. This was completed by mid afternoon.

 

Aerial CTD Survey Photos

Tent mounted over aft Twin Otter door to protect Conductivity-Temperature-Depth (CTD) cast at remote location from cold and wind. An electric-powered winch is mounted on floor of airplane and lowers instruments and sample bottles through a hole drilled in the ice.

Jamie Morison of the Polar Science Center, University of Washington, inside the aircraft door tent removes a sample bottle from the cable reaching from the winch in the Twin Otter through the ice down into the ocean.

 

Emailed Wednesday, April 11, 2001 15:59 PDT, by R. Woodgate _________________________________

Wednesday 11 April, the bottom-anchored mooring near the North Pole is all safely in and everything went well. Deployment began Monday, late afternoon and was completed at approximately 5:00 AM on Tuesday, 10 April. Position, c. 89 33 N, 66 39 E Water depth 4293m (corrected) The ULS came in at 48m from the surface .. i.e. about 4250m of line and instruments. The ice was about 5-6 feet thick, the hole melting (for the deployment and the echosounding) went smoothly After two days of prep and assembly, deployment took about 15 hours, finishing at about 5 in the morning, with the valiant support of Kiyoshi and Sigrid. With the preparation, including making the soundings necessary to get the depths that accurate, it was a LONG day, but we had a great day for it, -30 something Celsius I think, but calm and sunny, which meant it wasn't as cold as it would have been with a significant wind.

Emailed Wednesday, April 11, 2001 03:01 PDT ____________________________________

Wednesday 11 April, another fine morning in Alert. Today we intend to send Jamie with one Twin Otter to the camp to commence the preparations for the CTD section toward Barrow. The other Otter will have a lay day. They brought word that Dean has no more material to backhaul from the camp to Alert at the moment. The mooring and JAMSTEC teams will sort and palletize their equipment here in Alert, and I will work on ways of getting the five of them south.

Tuesday 10 April, we again went the whole day without radio communications with the camp. The day ended as planned though, one CTD station 1.5 hours north of Alert and two flights to the camp delivering the rest of the PMEL equipment and backhauling the mooring team and Kiyoshi with their respective support equipment. Sigrid and Dean are holding down the fort while installing PMEL equipment. The day also saw several unplanned activities: the 109th ANG put their C-130 on standby for a possible flight to Antarctica, and canceled the flight that was to bring Kelly Falkner north. We got Kelly a seat on the Canadian weekly C-130 flight to Alert. It involves a 7 hour taxiride from Scotia, NY to Trenton, Ontario. Via an RON in Thule, we expect her at 0930 local on Thursday and intend to whisk her right up to the Pole in the Twin Otter. She is carrying the replacement CTD units that PSC managed to round up courtesy of Seabird electronics and the Applied Physics Lab. These were shipped overnight to Kelly's hotel in Scotia. Jamie's generator for the CTD section has been repaired by the Twin Otter mechanic. All for this time.

Emailed Tuesday, April 10, 2001 02:48 PDT ____________________________________

Tuesday 10 April, hello all. Alert weather is very nice this morning and we can use it here as well as further north. Today we will try to send one Otter early to a nearby site north of here where Jamie and Uno will do another CTD station. The other Otter will head for camp mid morning with Sigrid's remaining gear and a backhaul of JAMSTEC and mooring equipment. Later today the CTD Otter will head to camp to backhaul additional equipment and three persons . That will leave Dean, Sigrid and one more, probably Kiyoshi, to hold down the fort at the ice camp. Tomorrow will be palletizing here and Jamie will head for camp doing one more CTD on the way. He and the aircraft will remain at the camp. The other Otter will fly to camp to backhaul the remaining equipment that is ready to go and to bring Kiyoshi back. On Thursday when the C-130 lands the Otter will whisk Kelly directly to the Pole camp. With an appropriate amount of good fortune this might work. The CTD, radio, and generator problems are under control at the present.

Monday 9 April, radio communications were good the latter part of yesterday. One plane flew to camp with Sigrid and most of her PMEL buoy equipment as well as Jamie's backup CTD. Jamie took a CTD station in camp and then Jamie and Uno came south, stopping at 87° 29' N and 90° W where they took a CTD station and launched an XBT. Late afternoon Knut had started the launch of the mooring and hoped to be done by midnight or early early morning. JAMSTEC's buoy is installed and operating properly. The C-130 that will backhaul the mooring team and the JAMSTEC team with their equipment is coming Thursday. That gives us little time to get things off the ice and palletized.

Emailed Monday, April 9, 2001 03:18 PDT ____________________________________

Monday 9 April, morning here, weather looks good outside. Today we hope for good weather and radio comms and will try a modified version of yesterday's plan.

Sunday 8 April, in the morning, we again had no radio communications with camp. The forecast and weather picture for the area north of alert and all the way to the Pole was not good. We decided to go with one airplane, get some of PMEL's equipment to camp and Jamie back here. If by chance the weather was better than expected he would do a CTD station on the way back. We loaded up with lots of fuel so the airplane could make it back to the cache should the weather at the camp prevent landing. We were ready to fly when radio contact was finally established. The weather was indeed bad at the camp and we canceled the flight. I also learned about a few problems out there: -Jamie had problems with the CTD Seacat. The backup unit is here at Alert but is only good to 500 meters depth as opposed to the primary unit that goes to 1000 meters depth. -The 5KW generator is barking, the backup is in here. -The radio is giving off odors that should not be. They have a backup and I have one here. I believe that pretty much sets the priorities for the day. On Sunday night just as the hunt for trouble shooting info and backup for the CTD became urgent, station Alert lost all telephone/ Internet connections with the outside world. Fortunately the radio communications were OK and via our Twin Otter operator in Resolute I got in touch with the Applied Physics Lab alerted them to the CTD problem, and the possibility that another CTD unit could be sent north with the 109th on Wednesday. The phone connection was restored by late evening and Sigrid sent some queries to Seabird, the manufacture of the Seacat CTD. JAMSTEC has gotten the J-CAD buoy in the water and on Monday will carry out performance tests and evaluation. The mooring team has found bottom, 150 meters deeper that expected, and can now start cutting the line length. The camp is drifting east. Last night it was at 89° 36' N and 89° some minutes E. The old runway is still usable and the new one is also completed and a bit longer than the first one. No sign of the French/Russian ice station "Borneo" yet. Last night I tried to raise them on radio frequency 4720 KHz but there was no response. A Canadian C-130 landed here last night. It had stopped by in Resolute and a quick head at First Air got my heater (that has been traveling the Arctic for the last 14 days) put on board, so it is finally here in Alert.

Emailed Saturday, April 7, 2001 20:33 GMT ____________________________________

Saturday 7 April, it is Saturday morning and still no communications with the camp. The aircraft is still our messenger bringing back updates and wants and needs. The weather this morning is nice at Alert. The pilot brought back a report that the airdrop was a smashing success. They had laid out two drop zones, perpendicular to each other to allow dropping into the wind for best accuracy. The first of 12 bundles hit a meager 25 feet from the lead marker and all the bundles landed as planned on smooth ice so our aircraft can taxi to the fuel rather than the other way around. They are not really equipped out there to move drums so the concern that the drums would land in the ice rubble was real, but everything worked out with no losses. There are 43 drums of aviation fuel, two drums of motor gas and three drums of mooring anchors. The drop technique they used is called high velocity drop. Four drums are positioned on top of several layers of cardboard honeycomb all enclosed in a canvas container, and a 26 foot ring slot chute is attached on top. This chute does not slow the descent much, it serves the purpose of stabilizing the load so it lands right side up. The honey comb cushions the impact. It is impressive when the bundles hit. It sounds like rapid gun fire. All the chutes and bags are back in Alert and the cardboard I believe served for a wiener roasting bonfire in camp the other night. Jamie Morison is planning to return to Alert Sunday, and do a CTD stop on the way back as well as repeat a few more of last year's CTD stations flying from Alert.

Friday 6 April, both airplanes flew to camp with mooring equipment and the two remaining members of the mooring party (Aagaard and Woodgate). It also delivered the JAMSTEC expendable CTD equipment. The second airplane did not get off till late afternoon due to a gyro problem. In camp all buildings are up now. The mooring hut is at the runway for easy access through the thinner runway ice. "Command and control" hut is nearby and also serves as "kitchen". The JAMSTEC hut is half a mile away in on the thicker ice where their buoy and the PMEL buoys will be installed. The only other structure is the outhouse, a small pyramid tent with the "throne" in the middle. It is an unheated place and is unlikely to cause lineups for access. The camp is drifting east. I do not have the numbers here but recall 89° 35' and 99° east. Tomorrow we hope to send out an ARGOS buoy which will allow you down south to track the camp.

Emailed Friday, April 6, 2001 4:17 AM ____________________________________

Thursday 5 April, one Twin Otter flew two loads to the fuel cache yesterday. ("Watching the Twin take off today was quite impressive .. we had light snow over night, and that was stirred up behind the plane, so as it headed down the runway, it just started to disappear from the centre out like the Cheshire Cat!") The other Twin got to the Pole camp and delivered camp and some science stuff plus two people (Jim Johnson and Hirokatsu Uno), making 5 at the camp at this time. The airplane returned at 1800 and reported that when he got there the runway had a crack that had opened to 2 feet and split it in two 600 foot pieces. He landed in a rough area but got in. The site has another stretch of ice that with some chiseling, etc. will make a new runway. The 109th dropped the fuel earlier in the morning and that went fine.

Old friend and Twin Otter pilot Jim Merritt flew to the Pole with tourists yesterday via the same fuel cache, Resolute, Eureka, Pole, cache, Eureka, Resolute. There are many of these this time of year. Jim could not find landing sites at the Pole for his customers to have their champagne so he flew to our camp and let the customers stretch their legs there. Comms are improving, I spoke to Jim as he flew past Alert and learned the story that way. We have two huts up, one to go. Recovery of chutes and runway reconstruction are the priorities at the present. To day I will launch Both otters to the camp, two hours apart. The first one will get VHF contact 90 miles out and if the runway situation is not under control, they turn around and notify the otter that is following. Today the two remaining mooring persons (Knut Aagaard and Rebecca Woodgate) and mooring stuff will be sent north. Weather at Alert today is good, no comms with the camp yet.

Emailed Thursday, April 5, 2001 3:43 AM ____________________________________

Early morning in Alert is the best time to get to the e-mail. The base here has been very supportive in letting us use their Internet connections, at the same level as their folks can. That means we can get one 30 minute email slot a day out of office hours. Since the line can be slow or even down, don't worry if you don't hear from us.

A major complication is the lack of communications. Well now we are working in the dark so to speak. We do not know what the weather at the Pole is when we send an airplane and need to be very careful in planning our fuel situation. Once the airdrop is in at the Pole and if it comes off OK, we will have three "gas stations" , Pole, fuel cache at 86 N, and Alert. This will help us deal with surprises brought on by changes in forecast and no comms. (The deployment period coincided with an intense solar-magnetic storm which continues to degrade HF radio at high latitudes. These conditions may be monitored at NOAA's Space Weather website.)

Wednesday 4 April, it was digging out time but we got two airplanes in the air with more camping equipment. They returned late evening with reports that the campers were fine, and had drifted to 119° East (7 nautical miles in the 2 days they have been out).

A flying day to the camp starts with breakfast at 0630, everybody ready to be trucked to the field at 0730 to prepare and stage loads to the aircraft. The crew heads to the weather office. Staging of cargo and loading takes about 1-1.5 hours and off they go about 0930. If we get the aircraft off Alert by 0930 they are back about 1900. Aircraft are then fueled, covered, plugged in and put to bed. Today weather is flat at Alert and we have not checked forecast and comms yet. Thule is ready to try the drop today. I got a sketch of the camp area yesterday that I tried to fax to the 109th all last evening but were not successful. I will call them this morning to verbally relay some of the info regarding the site, drop zone, markings, frequencies etc. If conditions allow I will send one aircraft to the cache to build it back up, only one drum left there. The other aircraft I hope to get up to the Pole with more camping stuff and two more people to help with airdrop recovery. The mooring and JAMSTEC project is the next that will go north. I expect that will take 4 flights. The last to be undertaken at the camp is the PMEL weather station with radiometers and thermisters. This we will attempt simultaneously with the CTD section towards Alaska. During windows of opportunity, we also hope to repeat some of the CTD stations between Alert and the Pole that we took last year.

Tuesday 3 April, we were weathered in at Alert and due to no comms had no word from the Pole. Alert blowed and drifted all day long, 40 knots and no vis. By evening it subsided but roads were drifted and impassable, so we could not get down to the airfield to check on equipment and airplanes.

Monday 2 April, both Twin Otters left for the Pole region to search and establish. One plane had the search party of 4 and lots of fuel. The other one we launched 2 hours later loaded with the camp embryo, hoping that the first one would have found the site by the time the second arrived. It worked by the skin of our teeth. The first one searched the primary target box but found nothing. They were just about out of search fuel in the secondary area when they lucked out, 89° 34' North 134° East. Three persons (Jamie Morison, Dean Stewart, and Kiyoshi Hatakeyama) were left behind with a pile of camping gear.

Sunday 1 April, we established a 12 drum cache at 86° North. A runway and a beacon had already been established there in support of tourist flights to the Pole.


Distance signposts at Alert on northern Ellesmere Island

Twin Otter landing at North Pole camp