First, a question: What do 33.4 m/s-1, 65 knots, and Force 12 on the Beaufort scale all have in common? Give that a ponder, and we’ll come back to it. The biggest update is that on Wednesday a break in the weather allowed us to get set up with both a 48″ access hole in the sea ice and a warm fish hut on top! Huge thanks to the guys from Fleet Ops for dragging our gear out and operating the Reedrill (pictured below). We spent most of the rest of the day arranging camp, and then scooping platelet ice out of the hole to clear the way for Sunfish.
After that, we headed back out in the evening with the robot and Peter and Chris drove around until about 0130 gathering data while scouting the area. We worked late as the forecast was bad for the next day, and sure enough we got snowed out.
After spending Thursday stuck on base, the weather was clear enough today to head back out and get Sunfish in the water. Getting braver every time, we made it all the way out to the interface between the multi year and annual sea ice (see Peter’s blog for underwater photos). After exhausting the battery we removed Sunfish’s ADCP, or Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler, hoping to leave it in overnight to tell us the velocity and heading of the currents in the area. This will help us time our missions with slack tide, extending vehicle battery life and range. Just as we were preparing to mount the ADCP to a wooden frame that Josh built to deploy in the hole though, the weather returned and visibility rapidly diminished. We quickly decided that we were done for the day and it was time to get home.
Which brings me back to the question we started with. What do they all have in common? Snow hurricane. Without a GPS to get home we would have had some more unscheduled team bonding, but this time in the form of a fish hut sleepover. In high winds the blowing snow makes it hard to see the track even right in front of the vehicle so GPS is crucial. After a very slow, cautious 45 minute drive home we managed to make it back just in time for dinner. Getting stuck in the galley when the wind strengthened further and the station went to condition one wasn’t so bad either, because that’s where the cookies are.