Switchyard #6, May 21, 2006
Email from Mike Steele, Ottawa, Canada, May 20, 2006
Well, the last few days of Switchyard buzzed by so fast that I didn't have time to send any updates. My last dreary update was sent on Sunday morning, with bad fog around Alert. Of course it cleared by noon and Wendy and Roger took off and did 4 stations, returning near midnight! Those two are data monsters! I feel extremely lucky to have such dedicated and talented scientists working for me on this project. I stayed up to greet them and we all hit the sack around 2 am. We managed to wake up some time in the AM and Wendy and I took off for another day of monster flying. We visited 4 sites, completing for the first time a series of stations southward from our "main line" to very close to the Ellesmere Island coast. We then got a special treat: our pilot John took us over the hills back to Alert, showing us the kind of flying he does when counting caribou and similar projects. We saw lots of animal tracks.
We got 15 helo CTD stations over 2 sections this year: a record! A preliminary look at the data indicates some really interesting similarities between the 2 sections. I think there's a great story in here.
As usual, this project would not have happened without the support of many people, including:
The National Science Foundation for funding our research
VECO Polar Services, in particular Tom Quinn and Robin Abbott
The New York Air National Guard
Canadian Forces Station Alert staff
Polar Continental Shelf Project
Universal Helicopters of Newfoundland, and our pilot John Innis in particular!
Kenn Borek Airlines, in particular our flight crew for this year Paul, Karen, and Brad. And of course, the support of our people in Seattle at the Polar Science Center: Andy, Sue, Mari, Mark, and I'm sure I'm forgetting a bunch of others. It's also great to work with the field scientists from LDEO, this year: Dale, Richard, and Guy, and Bob from SIO.
I love fieldwork! I'm typing this now from my hotel room in Ottawa, where it's past midnight. Tomorrow, if all goes as planned, Roger and I will roll into Seattle about 11 pm. Don't be expecting us in the office on Monday.... -Mike
Switchyard pictures and reports have been posted at
Additional Freshwater Switchyard of the Arctic Ocean information is available at:
Picture 1: Wendy and our pilot John gaze at an expendable CTD deployed in a lead. We also dropped a few from the Twin Otter plane. Results were mixed, but we still feel this technique holds great promise.
Picture 2: A great example of "finger rafting" which makes these really cool rectangular fingers of ice that I guess no one really understands. But everyone likes them.
Picture 3: Wow this was a great little lead. The ice was very new, very thin. I tell people about how thin sea ice is soft and bendy, not like brittle freshwater ice, but I've never really seen it. Now I have. In
the photo I'm pushing on it and it's making these kind of rubbery waves. Next year I'll bring a camera that makes movies.
Picture 4: Here's a shot from our rollercoaster ride in the hills at the northern tip of Ellesmere Island. Going up! On the other side is where your stomach drops out as John follows the contour of the land down, down, down.
Switchyard #5, May 14, 2006
Email from Mike Steele, Alert, May 14, 2006
Today is Mother's Day, and we have a mother of a fog bank sitting over Alert. Worst weather so far. The Twin Otter might fly if the satellite shows a "hole" up north, but the helo is definitely grounded today. Thus my email today!
We arrived in Alert on a sunny clear day, and the next day Wendy and Roger got 3 stations on our "main line" to the NW of Alert. The following day and all days hence there's been low cloud that prevents flying to any northern quadrant. Perhaps this is "summer" already? Perhaps flying in May is becoming a losing proposition?
We've resorted to one of our back-up sections, a series of 5 stations across the northern mouth of Nares St. That area seems always slightly better for helo flying, even some sunny patches. The ice there is amazingly broken up, with few large ice floes and LOTS of brash and huge huge piles of rubble. Our pilot John Innis is a magician, finding a suitable landing place amid this junk every time. My first look at the data indicates we may have some interesting results
There's no breakfast on the weekends here, just "brunch" starting at 10:30 am. I guess I can handle that, considering I've eaten more meat, cheese, and high fat meals in one week than I usually eat in a season! It's ok if you're spending the day chipping ice holes and tromping around outside, but it's really not ok if you spend the day typing emails... –
Switchyard #4, May 11, 2006
Email from Wendy Ermold
Things have been going pretty well here, with a few glitches. On Wednesday, Roger and I were able to do 3 stations on our primary track. Two of our CTD casts were beautiful, with good oxygen traces, even. One of our casts was completely non-existent though, and it happened to be the one farthest from Alert. We were really disappointed. The fog has been hovering over our primary track since, so we have not been able to get back out there as yet.
Yesterday, Mike and I flew out to Nares Strait (which is a low priority area for us, but our only option because of fog), and were able to do 2 stations. Again, the CTD recorded only one beautiful profile. Today, Roger and I prepared our backup CTD for the field, and we feel pretty confident that we'll be able to capture all of our casts successfully. Today is still foggy over our main section, but we're planning to try a flight out this afternoon back to Nares Strait. So, we should have good idea of how our backup CTD is functioning by tomorrow.
I'm going to send a few pictures:
Hope all's well on that end! I'll try to keep in touch....
Picture 1. Loading the helicopter for the first flight. Note we have a different chopper this year! Blue! It looks the same on the inside, though. John Innis is our pilot this year, same as in 2004! Also in the picture is his mechanic (name?), Mike, and Roger...
Picture 2. The CTD hit the mud on our last cast of our first flight. When this happens, we like to soak the CTD in a bath to make sure all the mud particles dissolve off so they don't get sucked into the instrument. Only the ladies room's have tubs though, so here's Roger where one wouldn't normally expect to find him.
Picture 3. Here's Mike at Nares Strait, ready to lower the Niskin to capture some water at about 5 meters. Both ends have been cocked open so it's ready to be lowered into the water.
Picture 4. Here's me, showing how warm it is! It was -4C and calm enough to take off my sweatshirt for 30 seconds to get a shot.
Switchyard #3, May 10, 2006
Email from Mike Steele, May 10, 2006, Alert
Switchyard Update: We arrived here yesterday, after an over night in Thule. The NYANG crew was superb and I have to say, all the C130 flights were way more comfortable than most commercial flights I've been on. There's always a nice comfy duffel bag (or your nice comfy neighbor's parka shoulder) to snuggle into. We took the day yesterday getting ready for today, talking to our instruments, sorting through gear, planning our stations. Wendy and Roger are attempting to do 3 stations today on our "main line" centered on 84N, 65W. We have lots of alternate stations planned in case it's foggy there. LDEO/SIO people are also preparing to fly, perhaps later today.
Christian Haas and a group of 5 other scientists from Finland and Scotland are taking ice and snow observations flying an EM "bird" on a helo and also by snow machine on the surface. Rene Forsberg and 2 others are flying a laser/microwave combo of remote sensing from a Twin Otter. We have been discussing collaborations for next year and beyond.
Note: For those of you who watch the evening news, Glenn Farley a reporter from King5 in the Seattle area interviewed Jamie Morison and Keith van Theil this morning about their work at the North Pole Environmental Observatory.
Switchyard #2, May 9, 2006
Email from Roger Andersen, May 8, 2006
Switchyard 8 May 2100 local Thule
Right on schedule so far, and we are scheduled for an 8AM takeoff for Alert tomorrow (Tuesday) morning. I am sending this from a PC in the Knud Rassmussen Library at Thule AB. So far weather has been good all the way. Thule is colder than Kanger was, but the streets are muddy and not freezing. Our flight here from Kanger was uneventful, except that we were combined with several groups besides Switchyard, and the total cargo volume required Herc pallets piled to the top of the fuselage, with no passageway aft. The NY ANG crew did an amazing job of loading within a tight set of flight rules. We assume, but have not heard whether, Andy made it to Alert with the Twin Otter on Saturday. Hopefully, we will be seeing him by noon tomorrow at Alert.
Andy Revkin’s latest article about NPEO and monitoring climate change, “Shivering and Unsung, Scientists Monitor the Arctic Year After Year After Year,” is in today’s New York Times.
Switchyard Report #1, May 8, 2006
The Freshwater Switchyard of the Arctic Ocean field work, supported by the National Science Foundation, is now underway.
Polar Science Center, Applied Physics Laboratory, University of Washington
Roger Andersen, Mathematician and field scientist
Wendy Ermold, Physicist and field scientist
Andy Heiberg, Logistics manager
Mike Steele, Lead scientist
Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University
Dale Chayes, Research engineer and Sr. staff associate
Guy Mathieu, Scientist
Richard Perry, Research staff associate and field enginner
Scripps Institute of Oceanography
Bob Williams, Field engineer
Information about the project is available at
Email from Roger Andersen, May 8, 2006
Spectacularly clear and warm morning in Kangerlussuaq. We are hanging around the KISS Building (Kangerlussuaq International Science Support) hoping Robin Abbot (Veco) will slip us some meal tickets to the Danish Cafe at the airport, in between getting another flight off to Summit and other parts of Greenland. Most of us took a walk up the hill behind the base last night, maybe 4 miles or so, and we got within about 200 yards of three musk oxen. We expect to fly to Thule about 11AM local.
Email from Roger Andersen, May 7, 2006
On a very full ski Herc, with a stiff tailwind, the complete Switchyard team made it to Kanger from Scotia, NY in six hours non-stop. The plan is for us to go just to Thule Monday, then into Alert Tuesday morning. Considering everyone's travel problems this spring, Mike, Wendy and I have had smooth sailing so far. Even the flight change at Chicago was at the next gate over. The Lamontians picked up Bob Williams of Scripps and we three PSCers at the Albany airport in the Lamont van, and Bill Smethie took us to Stratton Air Base at 5AM this morning. Dale Chayes, Richard Perry, and Guy Mathieu represent Lamont this year. It's a busy week for the 109th; four C-130s flew north to Kanger this morning. At Kanger I met Ingve Kristofferson, whom I think I last saw at Fram 4 in 1982. Ingve is a Norwegian scientist at the Norsk Polar Institute, on his way to Station Nord for some sea ice work in the fjord. It's stunningly warm in Kanger, probably in the 50s (F) at least. Occasionally a puff of wind down valley will remind us that the ice cap is just a few miles away. Otherwise, things are ops normal.
NPEO Report #17, May 3, 2006
Email from Kelly Falkner, Oregon State
University, May 2, 2006
I wasn't sure if
anybody has yet revealed the secret behind the better and
more organized food situation at Borneo. A talented woman,
of course. I enclose a few pictures of Andy with Galina
in the kitchen.
I also want to acknowledge the skill and dedication
of the mooring boys in parafilming the chemistry samples. As
you will see in the pictures, they even challenged themselves
to do it with eyes closed in case they end up with snow blindness
and still wish to be useful.
Jamie and I successfully occupied 7 hydro-stations
this year. We completed the targeted "Alaska" line and picked
up the station closest to the North Pole for the Switchyard program.
Jamie chatted happily away with his ABPR at the North Pole station.
It was a very impressive technical accomplishment to witness.
Weather conditions made it impossible to pick up any additional
stations along the "Alert" line the entire time we
were out. We tried for an additional 2 stations at the mooring
camp and at our 90E line but poor visibility made it impossible
to land. So we returned to Borneo, loaded up on the Twin and
Jamie, our pilot Troy McKerral, co-pilot Travis Goatzinger and
mechanic Mike McRae and myself left for Eureka on late April
27. The visibility at Alert was too marginal to risk an attempt
to land there. After fueling at Eureka, we made it back to Resolute
at about 9:30 local time. We offloaded temperature sensitive
materials (my samples, the CTD, etc) and placed them in warm
space in PCSP.
When we went to the plane the next morning to offload the remaining
gear, we discovered that our temperature sensitive materials
had been accidentally loaded on the Hawker early that morning
along with two pallets of gear meant to go to Alert for Switchyard
and two other pallets not meant to go north. The Hawker at our
moment of discovery was headed to Alert. I momentarily had a
sinking feeling that all my hard work sampling was about to go
down the drain (sample flasks broken and/or frozen) but with
a bit of scrambling and lots of radio and phone calls, we set
up a plan to recover from that misadventure. Bob Williams of
the Switchyard program needed my oxygen samples at Alert to run
them anyway and he will also run the salts provided there is
time. The other samples and oxygen sensor will be hand carried
back by someone of the Switchyard crew. Jamie made provisions
for the other materials. This is the first time that we've had
this type of problem. Between Roger Anderson's careful attention
to labeling and Dean's care in sorting, the large amount of gear
coming and going has always moved to the right place at the right
time. It was a lesson to me not to place my gear in the warm
space at PCSP without clearly labeling it and keeping it away
from pallets destined for loading. It was a lesson to all involved
that communications have to be very clear to all involved. It
was in fact very difficult to figure out just why things went
Jamie and I left Resolute, bound ultimately for home, at 12:30
on April 29. I had a roll of duct tape confiscated by security
from my carry on bag in Iqaluit. I was very sad. It was high
quality duct tape. We overnighted at the Southway Inn in Ottawa
where everybody traveling from/to the north seems to stay. I
had nurses who serve the north as my seatmates on the return
flights and enjoyed learning about their experiences in the communities.
With an unexpected delay because of bad weather in Chicago, I
made it home about 8 hours later than scheduled on Sunday, April
30th. The nutrient samples which I carried home frozen will be
analyzed here at OSU by the end of the week. I finally had a
chance to take a good look at the CTD and dissolved oxygen sensor
profiles this morning. They look fantastic. It was worth sleeping
with my oxygen sensor tucked into my vest that night we had to
overnight on the plane after all. So with a measure of triumph,
I forward this last message from the NPEO field effort of 2006.
NPEO Report #16, May 1,
Phone call from Andy Heiberg, Resolute, May
1, 2006, 11:30 AM PDT
Left Borneo yesterday after several days of bad weather that
was up and down on a 15 minute schedule – beautiful then
so foggy we couldn't see the end of the runway. We slept
and ate, slept and ate, and lost track of time. Then the weather
started clearing but it was night so we had to wait for Sunday
morning. The weather was quite good when the Hawker landed. We
flew to Eureka and were able to get additional fuel from Polar
Shelf, and then flew on to Resolute where we landed last night.
Bill Shaw left Resolute for home this morning.
Still in Resolute are Andy Heiberg, Dean
Stewart, Sigrid Salo, John Christensen, and Tom Grenfell. Tom
Grenfell is a Research Professor with the University of Washington’s
Department of Atmospheric Sciences. He arrived in Resolute
over the weekend to analyze snow samples that Jamie Morison
collected for him at Borneo. Tom is also collecting snow sample
in Resolute. Sigrid, John and Tom plan to leave Resolute on
Friday. Dean will remain behind until all of their cargo has
been prepared for shipment home or to Alert.
Andy Heiberg will remain in Resolute until he
flies to Alert later this week to assist Mike Steele with the
Switchyard of the Arctic Ocean field work that begins on May
8. A Twin Otter with Switchyard equipment and supplies is scheduled
to fly to Alert on May 8.
Email from Jim Johnson, Seattle, April 30, 2006
The mooring work was in the end, successful. We had what seemed
like a battle at every turn. T he place we were to call
home for 6 days was not a good piece of ice in that we were
surrounded by open leads and old cracks cutting across our
little 200 yard by 75-yard ice flow. The recovery operation
was performed with an A-frame capstan system that ran in only
one direction as opposed to the standard bi-directional method.
This made recovery difficult and potentially dangerous. However
with the great help of the mooring team, we successfully recovered
all the instruments on mooring NPEO-05 on the 22nd of April.
On the 23rd we received the new instruments for the deployment
of NPEO-06 mooring and exchanged out the recovered instruments
before the helicopter flew back to Borneo. Because we had a damaged
A-frame capstan system, the new mooring was going to have to
be a much smaller design using less anchor weight. Because of
the great versatility and expertise of the dive team, the A-frame
capstan system was back on line and in decent working condition
with bi-directional capabilities. This meant that we had a chance
to deploy the original design of NPEO-06 as planned. Late in
the evening of the 23rd we were well rested and ready to start
the deployment. Once again it was a struggle with the A-frame
system and it took us about 10 hours to get the new mooring deployed.
Overall I was satisfied with deployment.
Keith Van Theil had the forward section of the future (under
the ice Glider) in camp and got started on performing his testing
of the unit through the existing hole in the ice When the test
was complete the breaking down of all the mooring gear was started
and packing up began. Knowing that we were close to getting off
that questionable piece off ice, we were motivated to get started
as quickly as possible. Unfortunately conditions in Borneo were
not favorable for the Helicopters to fly, so we had to wait nearly
16 hours before they could come pick us up. We also had a 24-hour
delay in getting back to Resolute. The divers departed Resolute
for home on the 27th.
NPEO Report #15, April 28, 2006
Jamie and Kelly arrived in Resolute on the Twin
Otter last night.
The Hawker headed up to do it's final retrieval
from Borneo today but due to bad weather it had to stop in Alert
and may end up over night there while waiting for the weather
Bill Shaw called Tim Stanton yesterday morning
to report that the Autonomous Ocean Flux Buoy was successfully
deployed. Diagnostic tests showed that the systems were functioning.
He was completing the setup with a wind generator, and was planning
for the first data transfer last night.
NPEO Report #14, April 27, 2006
Phone call from Andy Heiberg, Borneo, April 27, 2006, 2 PM PDT
The weather is bad. The Russian Antanov flew
in from Longyerbyen a bit ago, and all of the tourists will be
Jamie and Kelly wanted to try one more CTD station
at the mooring site but visibility wasn't good enough for the
Twin Otter to land. They came back to Borneo, packed up and left
and are on their way to Eureka.
Sigrid’s web cams are working, and web cam pictures will soon be available at:
Dean, Sigrid, Bill Shaw and Andy, hope to leave Borneo tomorrow. Depending on the weather forecast and conditions, they will go back to Alert and then on home, or they will fly to Eureka and then on home.
Also, Jim Johnson is in Resolute, busy downloading data from the mooring instruments. He will leave for home on Friday. Kevin Parkhurst, Jim Osse, and Keith Van Thiel left Resolute this morning, though their plane was two hours late leaving. They will most likely overnight in Ottawa, and head for Seattle on Friday.
NPEO Report # 13, April 26, 2006
Phone call from Andy Heiberg, Borneo, 12 PM PDT
88 deg 52 min North and 173 deg 25 min East
It’s midnight at Borneo. The weather has been fickle today. Fog has sometimes been so thick you can’t see the tent next door. But now it is clear, calm, gorgeous, and only minus 20 C.
The Hawker came in from Alert about an hour ago. Fortunately, the weather cleared enough so the pilot could land. Bill Shaw arrived on this flight. He estimates it will take about 12 hours for Tim Stanton’s installation.
The Hawker just left with the mooring team and a lot of equipment. They are heading to Resolute, by passing Alert where the weather is iffy. They should be in Resolute in about 5 hours.
Last night Jamie and Kelly were able to accomplish two CTD and chemistry stations at the most southerly locations.
Now they are out again, having just landed at the North Pole for another station. If all works out they will do the first station for the Switchyard of the Arctic Ocean project (one at 89 N and 90 W). If they are successful tonight, mission accomplished.
If Jamie agrees, we may close up NPEO and leave Borneo tomorrow. John, the Hawker pilot, is eager to get the program over because of the fickle weather. If weather is good tomorrow we will try to jump on it.
During Jamie and Kelly’s flight back to Alert via Twin Otter they will try to do another station (88 N & 90 W) for the Switchyard project.
NPEO Report #12, April 25, 2006
Phone call from Jamie Morison, Borneo, April
25, 2006, 10:00 AM PDT
T88 deg 51.287 min North and 170 deg 21.5 min East
Sky is clear and sunny and visibility is excellent.
The mooring camp team members returned
to Borneo today. Their mooring was successfully deployed
in about 9 hours on Sunday.
Bill Shaw from the Naval Postgraduate School
was due to arrive in Borneo today but the Hawker flight
was not able to land at Alert and had to turn around. This
means the mooring team, Jim Osse, Kevin Parkhurst, and
Jim Johnson, will not be leaving Borneo today as planned.
Kelly and I (Jamie) went out with the Twin
Otter crew yesterday and did three stations at:
89 & 168
88 & 180
The stations went real well. We landed on ice flows with a lot of snow
but thin ice underneath. It appears there has been heavy precipitation
in the past year.
We camped about 30 miles south of Borneo
last night. The visibility was too poor (icy fog) to land
at Borneo. We put up one tent for the pilot and co-pilot.
Kelly, the mechanic and I slept in plane. I don't think
I'll be eating any more salami for awhile after I get home.
After 24 hours of work we were tired and slept pretty well.
Kelly and I just about ready to go out
for more stations: 86 & 85.
The tractor that was broken and appeared
beyond repair is now running on 3 cylinders so that is
a big help.
Sigrid is doing fine & will finish her work by the 28th as scheduled.
Kelly's photo of Jamie setting up the meter wheel at NPEO
NPEO Report #11, April 24, 2006
Per numerous phone calls from Jim Johnson at
the NPEO Mooring Camp, to Knut Aagaard, APL
TNP 2005 mooring recovered 22 April in a long
and difficult operation requiring repeated weighting of the line
in rough ice. Only the steel float was left behind.
Hydraulic power pack repairs effected 23 April.
NP 2006 mooring deployed 24 April in water
4315 m deep at 89° 20.810'N,
NPEO Report #10: Monday, April 24, 2006
Phone call from Jamie Morison at NPEO,
Approx. 4:15 PM PDT, Friday, 21 April, 2006
by Dick Moritz
Kelly's photo of Jamie downloading ABPR from Twin Otter. |
Earlier in the day on Friday, Jamie had taken
the helicopter to the mooring camp and beyond the mooring
camp. At the time of this phone call, Jamie and the helicopter
had returned to Borneo. The helicopter took Morison, Christensen,
Boyd and some hardware from Borneo to the mooring camp. Mooring
recovery operations were challenging but went fairly well.
The mooring wound up on the opposite side of a small lead
from the mooring camp. The divers went over to the mooring,
cut the ULS and the locator beacon off from the large steel
float and brought the ULS and beacon back to the mooring
camp. They did the same for all of the mooring elements that
were below the steel float, and these were likewise brought
back to the mooring camp. It may be too difficult to get
the steel float back to the mooring camp because of pressure
ridges near the lead.
The capstan that is used with the winch was
working OK for mooring retrieval, but it was not paying out
properly (which is needed for deployment of the new mooring).
Fred Karig, a Principal Engineer at APL, has been contacted
and is consulting with the mooring team as they repair the
Morison, Christensen and Boyd took the helicopter
approximately 14 km beyond the mooring camp to the location
of ABPR #1. Jamie deployed his hydrophone setup and successfully
downloaded the data from ABPR #1. Meanwhile Christensen and
Boyd conducted CTD and biological water sampling at this
site. Their sampling project will be completed with one more
station done at Borneo, then they will head back to Canada
on the Hawker.
Jamie reports that there is quite a bit of
open water among the ice floes, and that low contrast lighting
conditions delayed their helicopter operations for a few
hours today, but in the end things got done.
Ilker Fer has been doing microstructure profiles
of the water column near Borneo, and has acquired a large
data set. This work seems to be going well.
Email from Kelly Falkner, Resolute, April 21, 2006, 8 PM PDT
I arrived this evening at Resolute as scheduled amazingly enough; I think that
is a first for me! I ran into a very happy Takashi and Jun in Iqualuit on
their way home via Ottawa. They downloaded data from their profiler while
at Resolute and left me a plot to bring up to show Jamie & Co. Dean and
I looked over all the gear for the hydrographic operation and it is all accounted
for except for ducting for our heater that either Jamie has out at Borneo
or we can borrow from here. So all is well for us to take off for the hydrography
component of NPEO that is, of course, when the next FUN begins! Sigrid is
busy organizing her gear for shipment and Dean is giving her a hand at the
moment. We are all hoping to head out on early Sunday and it looks like I'll
be going up in the Twin Otter via Eureka and Alert provided the weather permits.
The weather was very clear all the way up to Resolute where there is now
a bit of ground fog and very light wind. The temperature is around -22C.
NPEO Report #9: Thursday, April
team mission accomplished!
the POPS buoy installed and transmitting, Takashi and
Jun get the southbound Hawker send-off from others on the
NPEO team. Left to right: Keith van Thiel, Jamie Morison,
Jun Inoue, Takashi Kikuchi, Kevin Parkhurst, and Tim Boyd.
Phone call from Andy Heiberg, Borneo, April
21, 2006, 9:45 AM PDT
Weather is improving
Ilker Fer, University of Bergin, is at
Borneo. He arrived on schedule. We’ve arranged a nice
set up for him and he is collecting very nice data.
The mooring camp personnel arrived at Borneo
past midnight after sitting out some weather delays in Alert.
They immediately loaded up the helo with all their supplies
and equipment and headed out about 2:30 in the morning to establish
their mooring camp. They released the mooring, built a camp
and went to bed. I talked to Jim Johnson a little bit ago.
They have made the hole and diving operations are in progress
as we speak. He knew he had to send down divers because he
couldn’t see the mooring
through the hole.
Jamie Morison and John Christensen have just lifted off and
are heading for the mooring camp where they will drop off equipment
for the new installation. From mooring camp they will proceed
a little further where ABPR 1 is located. Jamie will download
the data from that ABPR while John does his final remote station
sampling. If this works, then Jamie is done with his ABPR work;
and John is happy that this is the last station.
The next Hawker flight will be on Sunday,
April 23, with Dean Stewart and Sigrid Salo. This will give
Sigrid a little head start as she wasn’t scheduled to
come out to Borneo until the 25th.
John Christensen & Tim Boyd are scheduled
to leave Borneo on Sunday.
Email from Takashi Kikuchi, April 20, 2006
Jun and I came back to Resolute at almost mid-night on 19th.
Yes, on the 19th, we have finished our new buoy (Polar Ocean
Profiling System: POPS) deployment including a careful check
of the first ocean profiling data. Attached figure named POPS_NPEO06_1stprofile_060419.jpg" shows
the temperature and salinity profiles obtained by the POPS
on the 19th. The results seem to be good. After that, we rapidly
packed our stuff and took off from Barneo ice camp. We felt
a relief that we were able to conduct a successful deployment
as well as the previous J-CAD deployment.
After coming back from the ice camp, I remember that meals at
Barneo camp were very good compared with the previous years.
In addition to the successful buoy deployment, we enjoyed a short
life at the ice camp this year although we did not eat much Japanese
food we took there.
Finally, I would like to send you two pictures
which were taken at our buoy deployment and just before our
departure from Barneo ice camp. Again, we spent an interesting
time at the ice camp this year. In the early morning of the
21st, we will leave for Ottawa to start going back to Japan.
I really wish not only that our POPS continues to measure met. & ocean
data as long as possible but also that other NPEO operations
of this year will be conducted successfully.
Thank and best regards,
First Ocean Profile from
POPS Buoy after deployment at NPEO 2006
Takashi's graphs of ocean temperature and
salinity as function of depth down to 1000 meters. This is
the first profile after deployment at Borneo. The POPS Buoy
reports profiles like this via the Iridium satellite system
for the duration of its drift.
Deploying the POPS
Buoy at Borneo
Here the CTD package that cycles vertically
profiling the upper ocean is ready to go in the water. Left
to right: Jamie Morison, Jun Inoue, Takashi Kikuchi, Keith
van Thiel, and two Russian friends who maintain the Barneo
Below left-to-right Keith and Jamie drill
the hole, Takashi prepares the float package, and the POPS
buoy installation complete. The buoy will remain transmitting
via the Iridium satellite system after Borneo is evacuated.
NPEO Report #8: Thursday, April 20, 2006
Phone call from Jamie Morison, Borneo, April
19, 11 PM Borneo time, Noon PDT
89 deg 1.4 min North and 166 deg 6.7 min East
about – 20 deg and mostly clear with a
We’ve had an eventful day, a fun day.
Takashi and Jun did tests of the POP buoys to
be sure they were transmitting data through the iridium connection,
and hit pay dirt - profiler is working and data going through.
They are installing the buoy and I think Takashi and Jun are
going back on the Hawker that is due at Borneo in about 1.5 hours,
along with some of the equipment they’ve finished with.
We went out to install the ABPR with John Christiansen,
Tim Boyd, and Keith Van Theil. We had a fun day – had some
problems. I was disappointed to find a bad connector on one of
the ABPRs. I was getting ready to hook it up when I noticed the
connector had a hole through it. It might have broken during
a pressure test. Will send the ABPR with the bad connector back
as well. But, I was happy to find this out before we deployed
The helo crew is really great – Alexie
(copilot), Nicolai (crew chief), Alexander (captain) – used
the helo to lift and place the ABPR. They couldn’t find
open water so we chiseled out thin ice to deploy through. It
was like watching a ballet the way the helicopter pilot and his
crew put the ABPR down through the hole. It took about an hour & 10
minutes to go from surface to ocean bottom. Keith and I had Russian
lessons while waiting. The ABPR was deployed about 1.5 miles
from the Pole.
John and Tim sampled the water column, taking
nutrient and biology samples. They drilled holes and used their
winch to lower the CTD (conductivity-depth-pressure) down about
150m. They also collected some snow samples for Canadian colleagues
at Polar Shelf.
Keith will head out to mooring camp with Jim
Johnson and Jim Osse.
We have a friendly cook and the food is quite
good. The tents are pretty dark, though, and we had Dean go shopping
for flashlights so we can see our way to our bunks. Its hard
to see when you go inside from the bright light outside.
This is hump day for me. I'll be home in a couple
NPEO Report #7: Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Email from Jim Johnson, Resolute, April 18, 2006, 8:28 PM PDT
Today the Hawker departed Resolute around 9am with another 5500 lbs. of equipment and headed for Borneo. This flight had much better weather and great views of the ice, unfortunately there were no passengers to enjoy it. As the aircraft flew over the true North Pole to make the approach to Borneo, the pilots could see a lot of open leads many of which were freezing back over. This is a good sign in that the temperature is beginning to drop back to a more normal level. The temperature we like to see is around the -20 to -25 degrees Celsius. Because conditions at Borneo are good at the moment, Andy Heiberg has asked if Jim O., Jim J. and Kevin P. could be ready to leave Wednesday morning. Since we have been preparing the gear for the past 5 days, we are ready to head to Borneo along with the remaining freight needed to establish the mooring camp and begin mooring recovery. By leaving for Borneo tomorrow, we’re back on track with our original schedule.
The plan is further that on arrival of this third Hawker flight at Borneo, the first mooring camp helicopter flight will be undertaken immediately. The next Hawker flight, with the final mooring deployment freight, is planned for Sunday, April 23.
Jamie Morison and Keith Van Theil have been having good success with downloading data (by means of underwater acoustics) from the Acoustic Bottom Pressure Recorders that have been sitting on the seafloor for the past year in two locations near the North Pole. They plan to deploy the new ABPRs tomorrow.
The next updates will be relayed from the ice.
Wish us luck!
Phone call from Dean Stewart, Resolute, April 19, 2006, 10:00 AM PDT
Dean called to say the Hawker took off this morning at 0830 for Borneo via Alert with Jim Johnson, Kevin Parkhurst, and Jim Osse, along with the remaining freight needed to establish the mooring camp and being mooring recovery. Dean’s says it’s tee-shirt weather in Resolute – sunny, warm, no wind.
NPEO Report #6: Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Phone call from Andy Heiberg, on Monday, April 17, 2006, 21:30 (9:30 p.m. Borneo time) (10:30 AM PDT)
89 deg 01 min North 164 deg 50min East
Got out of Alert this morning. Alert socked in last night. Landed at Borneo a couple of hours ago. Very warm – 14 C. Wind is calm, thin overcast. The ice around has had its problems. Camp very fine. New tents. We have a very nice tent to ourselves. Good warm storage. Many of the old friends are here. Same helo crew as 3 years ago in 2003. Runway team same as last year.
We have found a place where we will install the buoys. Takashi has his own office, hasn’t recovered from this fact! Takashi is busy monitoring his buoys. Jamie is cutting an ice hole for Takashi’s buoy installation later tonight. Christenson is setting up and doing fine.
Jamie is going to fly tomorrow morning, camp time, and listen to ABPR 3 which was installed in Borneo camp last year – now about 20 miles away. (Jamie will put a transducer in the water & establish acoustic communication with the ABPR on the ocean floor, then he’ll download the data collected since its deployment.)
Next Hawker due on Tuesday but no people. It will bring half of Jamie’s new ABPR and a little of Jim’s mooring gear.
Email from Kevin Parkhurst, Resolute, April 17, 2006, 9:20 PM PDT
Jim Osse and I had quite an adventure getting to Resolute, Nunavut Territory in preparation for our North Pole departure. Each and every leg of our plane flight was either delayed or early. Not one left on time.
Once in Ottawa we headed out to eat dinner only to find out that almost every restaurant in town was closed for the observance of Easter Sunday.
Somehow Jim and I both ended up lucky enough to catch every flight and we finally made it to Resolute 3 hours late.
We were met at the airport by Jim Johnson and Dean Stewart and we are both looking forward to things getting better.
Email from Jim Johnson, Resolute, 7:06 PM PDT
Early Monday morning the first Hawker flight headed for Borneo after a 2 day delay in Alert. It was pretty much cloudy the whole flight over the ice and cloudy when they arrived at Borneo. The temperature was around -16 Celsius. The science party settled in with a little Russian celebration. The flight crew returned to Resolute and we prepared the Hawker for another load to fly out Tuesday. This flight will only have equipment and no one from the science party on board.
Kevin Parkhurst and Jim Osse from the University of Washington arrived in Resolute around 6:30 this evening. If all goes well, Kevin, Jim O. and Jim J. will head for Borneo on Thursday.
NPEO Report #5: Monday, April 17, 2006
Phone call from Jim Johnson to Knut Aagaard,
April 17, 2006 Flight
The weather cleared and the Hawker flight #1 took off early this morning from
Alert to Borneo. The passengers and gear are now at Borneo; and the Hawker is
on its way back to Alert.
NPEO Report #4: Monday, April 17, 2006
Phone message from Andy Heiberg, Sunday afternoon, April 16, 2006
The weather is still bad but has started to improve a bit. The pilots will assess the situation at 4:00 a.m. Monday morning, and we are hopeful we’ll be able to take off.
Email from Jim Johnson, Resolute, 4/16/06
Happy Easter to all!
We are having an Easter brunch at the Narwhal Inn this morning.
On April 15th the first flight left on schedule for the Borneo
ice camp. On board were Andy, Jamie and Keith from the UW. John
from Bigelow Laboratory, Tim from Oregon
State University, Takashi
and Jun from JAMSTEC. 3 1/2 hours later they arrived at Alert
for refueling. Andy and the pilots checked in with Borneo to
see how the conditions were before they took off on the final
leg to the ice. Conditions were foggy and not expected to clear.
So the whole group decided to spend the night in Alert and try
again Sunday at 1pm. Dean and Jim remain back at Resolute continuing
to prepare for the next flight. Kevin Parkhurst and Jim Osse
are scheduled to arrive in Resolute in the afternoon of the 17th.
Reports from the Borneo ice camp, unseasonably warm days with
April 15th reporting a high of -10 degrees Celsius. There was
also a report that some day in early April they had a high of
-4 degrees Celsius. I should have packed some shorts!
Email from Jamie Morison, Resolute 4/14/06 2118Z (1618local).
Another nice day at ~-20C, light wind and
clear skis. The Hawker arrived last night with John Millar, Kevin
(Twin Otter copilot 2001), Daon the mechanic, and, of course,
Andy Heiberg. Packing for ABPR, JAMSTEC are completed. Christiansen
ice camp operation is also ready. This afternoon we weighed cargo
for Hawker flight 1. The Russians at Borneo report the runway
they had broke in half on about April 6, with 600 m being the
biggest chunk. They have extended this to 840 m, and they will
report back on how much snow can be cleared off the surface.
The flight-planning group at First Air is considering what loads
we can carry into and out of this runway. Hopefully we will have
good weather and a favorable decision in time for a flight tomorrow
morning. Passengers will be Heiberg, Morison, van Thiel, Kikuchi,
Inoue, Christiansen, and Boyd.
NPEO Report #3: Thursday, April 13, 2006
Email from Jamie Morison, Resolute 4/13/06, 1618Z (1118 local)
Weather is similar to, if not nicer than yesterday ~-15C high clouds, good visibility, and little wind. Last night the Hawker flight to Resolute was stopped in Nanasivik with a broken starter/generator. First Air sent a Beech King Air down with a starter generator and picked up the passengers including Jim Johnson and Tim Boyd for NPEO. The Hawker, which was reported to be ours, arrived at midnight and returned to Iqualuit this morning. Now I understand that associated with the breakdown of another of First Air's three remaining Hawker 748s, our Hawker will not be coming in tonight (with Andy Heiberg) as scheduled. Stay tuned.
Progress here has been good. Christensen’s group made good progress yesterday, and the JAMSTEC group appears to be finished with preparations in the lab. We assembled the anchor "tables" for both ABPRs and after corresponding at length with Colin Sandwith (APL principal engineer and corrosion expert) and Mike Welch (APL senior engineer), we made a decision to use new 90 durometer O-rings in the piston seals of the ABPR, We then closed ABPR2 last night and ABPR3 this morning. Jim and Tim are well set up in labs here at Polar Shelf and are getting down to work preparing mooring equipment. Dean with Keith helping will probably be preparing Jiffy heads and stoves this afternoon, and I will be doing small preparations. We may make a trip into town to visit the coop and introduce Jun and Keith to sites of Resolute.
Email from Jim Johnson, Resolute, 4/13/06
Well I arrived at Res. but not without incident. Our flight out of Seattle was 3 hours late in taking off, so needless to say I missed my connecting flight out of Chicago to Ottawa. So I had to scramble to get on an American flight so I could be in Ottawa that night. I arrived at the hotel at midnight and was up 6 hours later to catch the First Air flight. That went smooth until we arrived in Nanasivik and our First Air airplane was unable to start it's number 1 engine. So there we sat for 3 hours until another plane from Res. could come and pick us up.
You just got to love air travel!
NPEO Report #2: Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Andy Heiberg, our logistics expert, left this morning for Resolute via Ottawa and Iqaluit. As you can read in the emails below, the scientists and support staff are checking out their gear and preparing for the Saturday flight out to Borneo.
Email from Jamie Morison, 4/10/06, 6:25 PM PDT, Resolute
I met Takashi and Jun at the Ottawa airport this morning and we had a pleasant trip north to Resolute via Iqualuit and Nanasivik. John Christiansen and his helper Garrett Bourque have been here since Thursday. Things here in Resolute are quiet right now. Now that the "Jet" is no longer a jet (now an HS748) the airport arrival was a mere shadow of its former self. The weather is nice now, but they have had a couple of blizzards in the last week. Hopefully it is out of the system for a couple of weeks. It is 2020 local time (1820 PDT. The Hercules with the NPEO Cargo, Dean, and Keith, is due here at midnight. More to report tomorrow,
Email from Jamie Morison, 4/11/06, Resolute
Resolute weather this morning is clear and cold with a little breeze. The Herc arrived with our cargo, Dean and Keith at 0100 this morning and we put the keep warm gear inside Polar Shelf. Sorting and unpacking are now underway. Only known missing item is Stanton’s buoy, but I understand you are aware of this.
Email from Keith van Thiel, 4/11/06, Resolute
Thanks for the travel wishes. Things have gone well, Yellowknife was warmer than we expected until the day we left when five inches of snow fell over the day. We got into Resolute around 1AM on Tues, it was about -20C, which is what we expected. It's been about 13 years since I've been in weather this cold. Three words: ice-cream-headache.
Email from Takashi Kikuchi, April 11, 2006, 4:47 PDT
As you know, Jamie, Jun and I arrived at Resolute last evening. Here it is sunny and about -20 deg C. It is comfortable for me as well as last year and before.
Email from Jamie Morison, April 12, 2006, 7:20 AM PDT
Resolute is calm, temperature ~-10C, broken cloud cover and good visibility. Stewart, van Thiel, Kikuchi, Inoue, Christiansen, Bourque, and Morison are here preparing equipment and loads. Yesterday van Thiel helped Stewart half time with loads and Morison half time with the acoustic bottom pressure recorders (ABPR). The ABPRs are up and running and ready for decision on O-ring selection for close. The waterproofed SeaCatch release tested successfully in the cold. Kikuchi-Inoue worked on POPS buoy and Christiansen-Bourque on bio-sampling gear. No major problems reported. Continuing with preparations today. Expect Johnson and Boyd this evening.
NPEO Report #1: Monday, April 10, 2006
The 2006 North Pole Environmental Observatory field operations, to be
followed by the 2006 surveys for the Switchyard of the Arctic project,
are underway. The first University of Washington participants left
Seattle on April 6, 2006, for Yellowknife, Northwest Territories,
Keith van Thiel: engineer and scuba diver for the mooring team
Dean Stewart: NPEO field engineer and logistics coordination
Keith and Dean spent several days organizing equipment and supplies for
transport to Resolute, the second most northern community in Canada.
Today they will join Jamie Morison and our Japanese colleagues, Takashi
Kikuchi and Jun Inoue, in Resolute, where final preparations will be
made for their flight to "Borneo," the North Pole Environmental
Observatory, on Saturday, April 15.