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Closing the Circle

We crossed the Arctic Circle, 66° 33’ North, southbound on Friday afternoon, June 20, an exquisite, cloudless day.  The snowy, black-rock mountains of Cape Dezhneva lay away to starboard, to port Cape...
Ross and Parry

The Last Ice Station

THE LAST ICE STATION As of yesterday morning, Healy had passed the 5,000-mile mark.  On 19 June, she’ll point her bow toward Dutch Harbor 1,000 miles to the south, and three days after that, this 42-day...
Station178_PlanktonSample

Drifting

Dean Stockwell was helping Joannie Ferland identify individual species from photographs of phytoplankton she’d shot with her submergible version of the microscopic imaging machine I mentioned the other day,...
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The Open Polar Sea

Back when much of the world remained unexplored, Europeans filled the blanks on their maps with whatever they wanted most, the cartography of wishful thinking.  During the Renaissance, when a bag of nutmeg...
Matriculation on the Chukchi Sea. © Carolina Nobre

Cruising

Cruise—this is a cruise; that’s the commonly used word.  I found it jarring on first encounter some years ago.  It seemed to suggest a lubberly, all-you-can-eat jaunt to the Bahamas from Ft. Lauderdale...
Stanford student, Caroline Ferguson, transfers samples of sea water.

No, Not Quite.

Well, it looked highly promising for a while, the snow cover melting back, turning granular, bare ice in spots, and air temperature almost above freezing.  The ice algae, a generic category of phytoplankton,...
Chris holding "melt grain clusters" that suggest the onset of the melt back.

About Ready?

A typical day's work on the frozen sea. Even before we’d cleared the Bering Strait northbound, people started asking Chris when the melt ponds would appear. “June third,” he said without missing a...
(Left to Right) Jake Cass, Chris Polashenski, Bob Pickart, and Kevin Arrigo during a lighter moment in the planning stage.

Ocean Action

We’ve been talking about ice and light, nutrients and plankton, and occasionally polar bears, but little about the setting in which all of the things are contained—the ocean.  To begin rectifying that...
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Four Bigs Against the Ice

It’s shortly after midnight and I’m standing at the portside rail with a couple of other gawkers squinting into bright sunlight as Healy heaves up chunks of ice over two meters thick, some larger in area...
Matt Mills saws  an ice core for the algae at the bottom.

Scientific Labor

Scientists and coasts begin another ice deployment. You’d better hang on and tread carefully down the steep brow onto the ice.  It’s cold, 12° F, on this Memorial Day.  Back home sweaty citizens are...