2003 Expedition Blog - Day 1


Monday, 26 May 2003, 7:23


Alex Lambert


2003 Expedition

What, where, when...
Attachments: 2 images
David Buckland in front of a glacier during a trip to the Arctic to plan the expeditions Our ship, the Noorderlicht, moored among the ice floes

Nearly there, my studio looks as if a bomb went off in a camera shop! Trying to co-ordinate an expedition like this is quite a job.

I've managed to piece together a visiting list from all the e-mails flying around between the team members. Here goes:

Monday 26 pm:
See Jan-Gunnar Winther at the Norwegian Polar Institute, for information about the area we will be sailing through, and why it is so important for our climate.

Monday 26 eve:
Leave Tromsø and head north towards 24 hour daylight.

3 days later:
Arrive at Bear Island for a short stop-over of 8 hours. Explore the disused mines and whaling station.
Set sail again going north along the high arctic ice sheets and seal colonies.

Friday 30th May (app)
Arriving at the southern tip of the Svalbard archipelago. From there we sail north along the west coast of Spitsbergen (the largest island), until we reach the 80 degrees north, just 600 miles from the North Pole.

Thursday 5th June
Visit to the Ny-Ålesund research station. We'll be meeting Jan-Børre Ørbæk, who is project coordinator for the international research facilities there.
Whilst there we will also visit the old Zeppelin arctic launch station and the German sea-ice research group in Kingsfjord.

Saturday 7th June
Visit to the EISCAT radar near Longyearbyen. Using the radar scientist can study Earth-sun interactions and what goes on in the upper atmosphere (magnetosphere, ionosphere), and find out . , what is happening to the ozone layer, and when to expect magnetic storms that damage satellites and disrupt communication systems. Aurora research.

Attached are some photos that give an impression of what we hope to see. I can't wait to get going!



Monday, 26 May 2003, 8:25


Sarah and Val


2003 Expedition

All tested and packed!
Attachments: -

Hi, Hi,

Just a quick e-mail from Sarah and Val - two oceanographers lucky enough to take part in the Cape Farewell Arctic Voyage. We work at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton (formerly the Southampton Oceanography Centre), and have been asked along to take scientific measurements on the way.

After a pretty hectic couple of weeks, we've finally got together the equipment we need. It's all tested and packed in sturdy aluminum boxes for the flight to Tromsø.

We've had some tricky moments. The Noorderlicht is not exactly your standard research ship, which have winches and cranes for lifting and maneuvering large, heavy oceanographic instruments. No such luxury on the Noorderlicht. To save our own backs - and the cost of airfreight - we've had to look for smaller versions of everything. Not always easy.

One problem of not taking standard equipment is that your computer must talk to instruments it's not used to communicating with. That's been a challenge - our laptop point blank refused to talk to some of the older probes. Not smart enough for a modern, sophisticated computer, probably. With a lot of electronic diplomacy they're now on speaking terms - but we've had to abandon one or two pieces of equipment that were just too difficult.

Anyway, what we have now works - fingers crossed. And we're taking plenty of pencils and paper for those moments when the only solution is to write down the numbers.

We are going to measure temperature and salinity along the way. That will give us an idea of what happens to the Gulf Stream water as it flows towards Spitsbergen. We'll also measure water colour, and take samples of chlorophyll, in order to find out how much phytoplankton there is in various places. Phytoplankton are microscopic marine plants; they are at the bottom of the ocean food chain - the grass of the sea so to speak.

We are also planning to trawl for plankton (microscopic, floating plants and animals). To see what they look like, and hopefully identify some of them, we have brought along a microscope. If we don't rock about too much on the waves, we should be able to send you some photos of what we see.

Now all we have left to do is get together our own personal kit. Plenty of warm and waterproof clothes, wellingtons, lots of dry socks ... And very important: Sun-screen and sunglasses. The sun is very bright in all that snow, and the ozone layer is too thin to protect us properly from harmful ultraviolet radiation.

We're really excited, and looking forward to meeting all the others.

Val and Sarah

2003 expedition route map