NPEO 2004 Planning

Reports from the 2004 NPEO Deployment and Switchyard Surveys

The 2004 deployment of the North Pole Environmental Observatory, shortly to be followed by the 2004 surveys of the Freshwater Switchyard of the Arctic project are underway.  The first participants flew north on Easter Sunday 11 April. As reports from the Arctic come in, we will post them here.

Thursday, May 6, 2004__________________________________________________________________________

Below is the final field message for the 2004 North Pole Environmental Observatory, the Circulation in the Freshwater Switchyard of the Arctic Ocean, and the Ocean Pressure in the Arctic projects.  We are grateful to the National Science Foundation for their support of these projects (Grants OPP-9910305, OPP-0230427 and OPP-0326109).  I have enjoyed receiving the reports from the field and passing them on to you.

Canadian Forces Station (CFS) Alert, Canada
Email from
Roger Andersen

The Switchyard helo operations are complete.  Packing furiously.  We completed 12 stations in five days of flying, all in good weather except one afternoon getting home in the fog.  It was colder than last year, every station involved ice chipping to reach the water, no open water around at all yet.  Some problems with frozen plumbing freezing in CTD.  NYANG Herc picks us up in Alert Friday morning.

Tuesday, May 4, 2004__________________________________________________________________________

Canadian Forces Station (CFS) Alert, Canada
Telephone call from Andy Heiberg

Roger and Wendy are out today finishing the main CTD section for Mike Steele’s Switchyard project.  They will extend the section a little as the weather is good.  Tomorrow they will do a parallel section to the east.  Work should be completed by tomorrow night.  Thursday will be a packing day in preparation for the Herc picking them up on Friday.

Wendy making a CTD cast.
Roger preparing equipment on site.

Monday, May 3, 2004__________________________________________________________________________

Canadian Forces Station (CFS) Alert, Canada
Email from Roger Andersen

After troubleshooting some CTD problems, Wendy and I flew yesterday afternoon and got Station D = "Delta" near the north end of Mike's line across the shelf break.  That went well, but we ran into very thick fog getting home to Alert, and were nearly an hour following ridges and leads for some ground contrast before we popped out into some blue sky.  So getting home took a longish 2 hours rather than one.  Our pilot, John Innis, has over 20,000 hours in helos, and he used a lot of that experience finding our way out of that fog in our VFR Bell 206. This morning Mike and Wendy are flying without me.  Gives me a chance to patch my mukluks, and plot some data at some hour other than after midnight.   Kelly is out in the Twin Otter scouting a site for her next spring ice camp in Nares StraitAndy is constantly after everybody to make hay while the sun shines, and is doing well.  It helps that we have had wonderful hospitality from the base here, and that Andy is a very popular guy.

Saturday, May 1, 2004_________________________________________________________________________

Canadian Forces Station (CFS) Alert, Canada
Email from Roger Andersen

Mike and I flew in the Bell 206 in nice weather and succeeded in getting three (3) stations along his line across the shelf break north from Alert.  Each included a CTD with oxygen, an XCP drop, and a mixed layer water sample.  This was a big first day.  Everyone said to expect thick, tightly packed ice.  We went expecting to have to drill to reach water, but never had to fire up the Jiffy.  It took some looking, but we were able to find narrow cracks thin enough to chip, even if they were 8-10 inches.  Before I get too excited I have to go download all the data, to see if we really did get everything.  Spotted bear tracks from the helo on the way back to Alert.
More soon.  –Roger


Alert, Canada
Email from Wendy Ermold

Mike and Roger made it out into the field today for the first time this trip. The weather is beautifully clear and calm. They have not returned yet to give news of their success. I expect if things are going well, they'll stay out as long as possible, taking advantage of the window of opportunity. We spent all yesterday (Friday) getting all the gear ready and tested.


John (helicopter pilot), Mike, and Roger looking down at all the gear that still has to be loaded into the helo.  You can see in the picture how little room is available in the helicopter.  We have more gear this year than last, the main addition being the Jiffy Drill. They managed to get everything in though: CTD, XCPs, Jiffy Drill, Niskin Bottles, Emergency gear, etc.

Hope all is well there!
I'll be in touch again soon,

Andy and Mike enjoying the sunshine.

Friday, April 30, 2004_________________________________________________________________________

Resolute, Canada
Email report from Tim Stanton, Naval Postgraduate School

   I flew down from ice camp Borneo to Resolute last night with Dean and Sigrid, dropping Andy off at Alert and picking Jamie up from there. We have been very fortunate with clear, low wind weather the last 5 days allowing the buoy / surface sensor deployments and Jamie and Kelly’s CTD stations to be done ahead of schedule. Three days ago the sensors for the ocean flux buoy were lowered 20 feet into the ocean through a 12” hole we augured through the ice and then attached the surface processing buoy.

Ice camp Borneo from the air as we headed south.

The view across the ice flow near Ice Camp Borneo shows the staging tent on the left, and a large square box of solar panels in the upper center where two precise sensors on top of the box measure the amount of sunlight reaching the ice. The solar panels supply enough power to keep the sensor faces clear of ice and snow by continuously blowing warm air across them. On the right the yellow buoy in the ice transmits ocean turbulent heat transport data via satelite from sensors suspended about 20 feet below the buoy. The collection of different sensor systems on the ice flow allow all terms of the delicate heat balance across the coupled ocean-ice-atmosphere system to be measured for the next year as the flow drifts south toward the Atlantic Ocean.

   I spent the following morning checking out the 5 instrument systems attached to the buoy that provide ice velocity, current profiles down to 50m depth and the vertical transport of heat and salt to and from the ocean by turbulence below the ice. It all checked out fine, including the Iridium link that sends the full data set by satellite back to Monterey each day. With the buoy in, I helped Sigrid and Dean complete installation of PMEL’s met and solar radiation stations, the two ice cameras (which are up and running) and the CRREL ice flux buoy.

   They were long, timeless days but in great conditions.  We came across a few interesting people passing through the ice camp, and watched the tents come down around us as we had our last meal at the main camp before moving across the runway to the old camp sauna for the last night. The Russian air crew and runway guys feed us generously there while we completed packing up and final instrument adjustments out on the ice floe. The ice runway was a little marginal by the time the Hawker Siddley 748 came in to pick us and the outbound equipment up, but we had a clean takeoff and a fun trip back down south.

Ice camp Borneo being taken down at the end of the season.  A quick decision was made by the Russian ice camp managers to take down the main camp a few days ahead of schedule, so we had to eat quickly and move our gear across the runway to the sauna tent where we spent our last two days.

Check out live pictures being transmitted from the North Pole to NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory.  Sigrid Salo deployed the two cameras with help from Dean Stewart.


Resolute, Canada  9:15 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time
Telephone call from Dean Stewart

Dean will be in Resolute until Wednesday, May 5, when he departs for Seattle via Ottawa.  Dean is responsible for sorting through, packing, and preparing all of our field equipment for shipment home.  Tim Stanton leaves Resolute tomorrow, May 1.  Sigrid heads home tomorrow or on the Wednesday flight with Dean.  Jamie took the Hawker this morning for Ottawa and should arrive home May 1.


Canadian Forces Station (CFS) Alert, Canada   9:50 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time
Telephone call from Andy Heiberg

The scientists had a briefing on procedures to follow while guests at Alert, a Canadian Forces Station.  Weather is foggy but the Herc airplanes are still coming in.   If the weather improves, Mike Steele, Roger Andersen and Wendy Ermold will go out in the helicopter to do Switchyard stations.


Circulation in the Freshwater Switchyard of the Arctic Ocean (FSAO)

Separate from the North Pole Environmental Observatory but also sponsored by NSF (grant OPP-0230427) and sharing certain logistics resources, the Freshwater Switchyard of the Arctic Project is a Freshwater Initiative of the Arctic Community-wide Hydrologic Analysis and Monitoring Program (CHAMP).  Switchyard field work this year consists of two aerial surveys immediately following the NPEO 2004 deployment, and based out of CFS Alert on
northern Ellesmere Island, Nunavut, Canada.

The Shelf Break Helicopter Survey ( Michael Steele, University of Washington,PI) will carry out a 120-km CTD section across the coastal shelf break near 65°W for a second year using a Bell 206 helicopter. As many as ten stations are planned, each consisting of a 500 meter CTD cast with a dissolved oxygen sensor, an expendable current meter launch, and collection of a surface water sample. Helicopter survey team members include Michael Steele, Wendy Ermold, and Roger Andersen of the University of Washington.

The Alert—North Pole Twin Otter Survey (PIs Bill Smethie & Peter Schlosser of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory) will use the newly-developed THICR = THrough-Ice Ctd Rosette, a compact rosette with six 3-liter bottles designed to fit through a 12-inch hole in the ice. Water samples will be drawn at the land base to reduce time required on station.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004______________________________________________________________________

Borneo, 21:00 Moscow time (10a.m. Pacific Daylight Time)
Telephone call from Andy Heiberg, Principal Logistics Coordinator

We had a good day.  Jamie did 3 of his 4 planned CTD casts (the southern ones).  Tim  Stanton’s buoy is installed.  Sigrid Salo should be done tomorrow.   Forecast for tomorrow is good.  We will finish Jamie’s last point and do the 2 northern  SwitchyardMike Steele.  If this works, they intend to leave Borneo on Thursday, April 29, and possibly do one more Switchyard cast on the way to Alert

Monday, April 26, 2004__________________________________________________________________________

Borneo, 19:00 Moscow Time (8am Pacific Daylight Time)
Telephone call from Andy Heiberg, Principal Logistics Coordinator
Position today:  89 deg 19 min N, 125 deg 37 min E    -15C

Weather is cottony, soupy, can’t see too much but will be able to work.

After Jamie Morison, Peter West, Jerry Bowen and the other two CBS folks arrived at Borneo on Friday, April 23, they loaded their gear into the Russian Mil 8 helicopter and flew out to the mooring camp.  Weather was not good at all.  Jamie was not able to deploy his ocean pressure gauge.  The mooring camp was evacuated on Sunday.

On Saturday some of the media were able to fly out to the actual Pole on a Mil 8 flight so CERPOLEX could pick up a group of skiers.  

Two of the media were able to fly out on the Twin Otter to watch the deployment of buoys for the International Arctic Buoy Program, one at 87 degrees, and the other at 88 degrees.  The Twin Otter also stopped at 86 degrees to pick up a skier who had requested pickup because he was not going to be able to reach Camp Borneo by the time the camp broke up.

On another flight the Twin Otter flew out west of Lomonosov Ridge with Dean Stewart, Sigrid Salo, Takashi Kikuchi and Masaki Taguchi.  Takashi and Masaki successfully deployed a new JAMSTEC Compact Arctic Drifter (J-CAD).  Sigrid deployed one of the NOAA/PMEL mass balance buoys.

Sunday was a beautiful day for these deployments, but after their flight the weather socked in again.  Fortunately it cleared up enough so that the incoming Hawker flight with Tim Stanton, Naval Postgraduate School, and Kelly Falkner, Oregon State University, could land.   The Hawker took off from Borneo on Monday morning at 3 a.m. with Peter West, Jerry Bowen, Bruce Rheins, Henry Schroeder, Masaki Taguchi, Takashi Kikuchi, Paul Aguilar, Jim Johnson, Kevin Parkhurst, and Mike Welch. 

After the deployments Jamie & Kelly Falkner set up the Twin Otter for their Hydrographic Surveys.  They conducted a pilot test station at Borneo, an 800 m cast with full suite of instruments.

Today (Monday) Sigrid Salo is deciding where the Borneo installation of a second mass balance buoy and the web cam should be located. 

Tim is deploying a new Autonomous Ocean Flux Buoy at Borneo. This buoy includes an instrument cluster with an acoustic Doppler current profiler, precision temperature and conductivity sensors, and velocity, tilt and heading sensors set 4.5 m below the ice.  A low power acoustic travel time current sensor, a stable conductivity cell and a very high-resolution thermistor measure velocities, salinity and temperature. Correlating fluctuations of vertical velocity with horizontal velocity, temperature, and salinity fluctuations can be used to estimate the vertical transport of momentum; heat and salt through the ocean mixed layer.

By Tuesday Sigrid and Tim should have their equipment installed.


Telephone call from Jim Johnson to Knut Aagaard  

The location of the 2004 North Pole mooring is 89° 27.288'N, 54°19.744'E.  The water depth is 4295 m, and the mooring extends from the sea floor to within 50 m of the surface.  It was deployed about 0900 UTC on 21 April 2004, and it will remain in place until some time during April-September 2005.  The mooring incorporates acoustic transponders and releases, glass and steel floats, and a number of oceanographic instruments, several of which transmit at a frequency near 300 kHz.

This concludes our field report for Monday, April  26.

The Seattle Times featured a very nice story about the NPEO on their front page, Friday, April 23, 2004.  The article, Polar science mission takes Arctic temperature, by Sandi Doughton, a Seattle Times staff reporter, can be read on-line at:

Friday, April 23, 2004________________________________________________________________________

Borneo, 22:00 Moscow time (11a.m. Pacific Daylight Time)
Telephone call from Andy Heiberg, Principal Logistics Coordinator

The Hawker from Resolute just landed at Camp Borneo.  Jamie Morison, Peter West, and the CBS folks are headed out to the mooring camp via the Russian Mil 8 helicopter.  Paul Aguilar will return to Camp Borneo from the mooring camp and begin his long journey back to Seattle as soon as flight arrangements can be made.  The rest of the mooring team will help Jamie Morison deploy his ocean pressure gauge. 

The weather has been improving.

Thursday, April 22, 2004________________________________________________________________________

Resolute, 12:50p.m. Central Time
Email from Kelly Falkner

I am happy to report that I made it to Resolute more or less as scheduled. I ran into our Japanese colleagues, Takashi Kikuchi and Masaki Taguchi, in Ottawa and they traveled on the same jet to Resolute. I checked out my shipment and everything looks to have arrived intact.  Takashi and Masaki worked hard through the night to test their equipment and are now packing it to be ready to go, however since the weather looks to be holding Jamie, Sigrid, Dean, Peter West and the CBS folks back we may well be playing the waiting game as well. Our Hawker flight is scheduled after theirs.  Jamie et al had hoped to leave for Camp Borneo at 3a.m. this morning but the weather didn’t cooperate.

Kelly Falkner, Oregon State University, is part of the Aerial Hydrographic Survey team.  Their objectives are to determine the position of major water mass boundaries and the distribution of water types across key sections of the Arctic Ocean. The NPEO Hydrochemical Survey will be carried out by Twin Otter aircraft between the North Pole and the Makarov Basin. They plan to revisit the survey line from NPEO 2002.  Each station will consist of a deep CTD cast (maximum 1000 m) accompanied by Niskin bottles at four depths. The CTD carries a dissolved oxygen sensor and the bottles will be sampled for salinity, dissolved oxygen, oxygen isotopes of seawater, nutrients and barium.

Takashi and Masaki are with the Japan Marine Science and Technology Center.  They will deploy a new JAMSTEC Compact Arctic Drifter (J-CAD) by Twin Otter west of Lomonosov Ridge, as J-CAD 6 was in 2003. J-CAD 6, deployed by NPEO in April 2002, remains in the Arctic Basin and has been transmitting depth, temperature, salinity, wind direction, and wind speed data via satellite. The data are updated hourly to the NPEO website.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004______________________________________________________________________

Resolute, 1:20p.m. Central Time (11:20a.m. Pacific Daylight Time)
Telephone call from Jamie Morison

Jamie reports that due to poor weather their flight to Borneo was cancelled this morning.  Jamie; Peter West (NSF); Jerry Bowen, Bruce Rheins, and Henry Schroeder (CBS) are now scheduled to fly to Borneo at 5 p.m. this afternoon. 


Mooring Camp, 22:00 Moscow time (11 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time) 
Telephone call from Jim Johnson at the Mooring Camp
Temperature:  approx. –6C
Mooring Camp Location:  89 deg 27.2 N, 54 deg 50.7 E

Cleaning up and getting ready for Jamie Morison and the media to arrive.  There has been a delay in their flight due to bad weather and poor visibility from blowing snow.  They are still in Resolute.  Will try again tonight.

The temperature is warm.  Leads have opened up close to the mooring camp (but not a problem).   A good storm blew through while we were deploying the new mooring.  We completed installation of the new mooring about 12 hours ago. 

We are all doing fine.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004_________________________________________________________________________

Borneo, 19:00 Moscow time (8 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time)
Telephone call from Andy Heiberg, Principal Logistics Coordinator
Borneo location:  89º21 min N,   130º21 min E
Weather:  warm –10C, wind picked up, blowing at about 25 knots from the west, little white, definitely some weather passing our way.

Had a little crack in runway that didn’t develop into anything.  Russian airplane still operating.

On Monday the Hawker flew in from Resolute with the rest of the new mooring equipment.  It was delivered to the mooring camp this morning by the Russian Mil 8 helicopter.  The mooring team took a much needed rest yesterday after retrieving last year’s mooring, but today they are busy preparing and deploying the new mooring.  Jim says that in another 12 hours they should be done – with no problems by tomorrow the mooring might be installed.

Camp Borneo also supports tourist activities.  A skiing party returned to camp from the North Pole on Monday. They reported seeing two submarines.  I (Suzan) suspect these are the two subs reported to have surfaced near the Pole by Reuters – “Two nuclear submarines, one British and one American, surfaced near the North Pole on Monday for an impromptu game of soccer, Britain's Royal Navy said. The two vessels surfaced through two naturally occurring gaps in the ice about half a mile from each other after completing a joint underwater exercise. ‘The crews of HMS Tireless and USS Hampton are gearing up for a game of football,’ Commander John Parris said.

Monday, April 19, 2004__________________________________________________________________________

Borneo, 18:00 Moscow time (7 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time)
Borneo is at 89º23 min N, 126º04 min E
Telephone call from Andy Heiberg, Principal Logistics Coordinator

We are on schedule.  The Hawker & people arrived at Borneo on Saturday, April 17.  The Russian Mil 8 helicopter was at Borneo waiting for us.  We flew half of the mooring load (camp equipment and the mooring search equipment), with Jim and his 3 people, Paul Aguilar, Kevin Parkhurst and Mike Welch, out to the mooring camp coordinates (position of mooring camp last year). We landed at the coordinates, drilled the hole, and the mooring was within 200 meters, very close, ready to be popped. The ice was so bad, however, that Jim decided he couldn’t release the mooring.  The next day (Sunday) the mooring team drilled another hole, popped the mooring. The acoustic command equipment worked fine. (The acoustic command equipment sends signals to the 3 releases that connect the mooring to the anchor, the releases open up and the mooring pops up under the ice).  Andy just talked to Jim and the mooring is out of the water.  Didn’t have to put divers in the water.  Pretty amazing.

On Sunday we flew the rest of the equipment out to the mooring camp  (Andy went along to have a look at the ice in that area to see if it was a good site for Tim Stanton and Sigrid Salo to deploy the drifter but doesn’t look good.  Ice around Borneo is better. 

We will deliver the new mooring to them tomorrow.  The new mooring should be deployed by the time Jamie Morison  arrives at the mooring camp on Wednesday, April 21.

Temperature is extremely pleasant, -10 degrees C to –15 C.  It was –9 C when Andy got up this morning.  Winds light.  Blue sky.

For more information about the North Pole Environmental Observatory:
Information about the mooring, including a diagram of the equipment

Friday, April 16, 2004___________________________________________________________________________

Email from Jim Johnson, Sr. Field Engineer, Mooring Deployment/Recovery Team
Resolute, Canada

After a long day of putting together loads and separating piles of equipment, we have the first Hawker aircraft flight ready for our 6am departure to the Borneo ice camp. Our flight will be carrying about 7000 lbs. of gear and people.  We make a fuel stop at Alert before heading out over the ice. Once we arrive at Borneo, the 4 mooring people will help off load the Hawker plane and then load the Russian Mil 8 helicopter and begin our hunt for the mooring that has been in place at the North Pole for the past year.
Wish us luck!

Wednesday, April 14, 2004______________________________________________________________________

Jim Johnson, from Resolute, Canada

Well the Arctic adventure began with a bang right from the start! Our paperwork delayed our departure from Yellowknife to Resolute on the C-130 flight. Once the papers were in order it was time to load the container into the plane. Turns out that the container was too tall and wouldn't fit in the rear opening of the plane. So we had to unload the container and pack all of the gear back into the plane. By 8:30 pm we were heading down the runway on our way to Resolute. We were about 10 minutes from landing when the flight crew radioed into Resolute and were told that the ceiling was coming down but we  should have about 600 ft. visibility at time of landing. As we made our approach, it wasn't  until we were about 200 ft. off the ground that we saw the runway lights. We landed at the start of a blizzard. Winds were about 30 mph and blowing snow all the while we were unloading. Now most of our gear is buried in drifts and it is forecasted to blow for the next 2 days. From 80 degrees Sunday in Seattle to a blizzard in Resolute!

Quite the adventure.


We gratefully acknowledge the support of the National Science Foundation under Grants OPP-9910305 and OPP-0230427

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