It was rainy and overcast all day. We are still in the same area where we have been for the last couple of days. The CATS crew continues to work around the clock to finish their deployments and recoveries. The NABOS crew is putting on final touches of their preparation and is pretty much ready to start their mooring recoveries and CTD casts.
While we were in Kirkenes preparing for our departure I was invited to sit in on the interview between Atle Staalesen, a Barents Observer journalist and Rob Rember, Expedition Co-Chief Scientist. Atle also visited the ship and interviewed and took photos of expedition members. The following is an excerpt from the article Russians and Americans Set Out on an Expedition to a Land of Great Change that was published in The Barents Observer. The excerpt explains the importance of moorings and the significance of the data retrieved. The article was written by Atle Staalesen and published on August 29, 2018:
Warm Water Melts Ice
The 133 meter long Akademik Tryoshnikov is the flagship of Russia’s polar research fleet. It is operated by the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute (AARI) and has a crew of up to 60 people. As it sails eastwards, three groups of researchers engage in activities. In addition to the members of NABOS, on board are representatives of German GEOMAR’s CATS project and the T-ICE project operated by the Alfred Wagner Institute.
The Germans have 6 moorings, while eight belong to the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
It is the moorings that prove the key data. Instruments are connected on wires and travel from about 50 meters depths to 750 meters depths every day. It is a motor-driven device and goes up one day and down the next. Every day, a profile of that specific piece of water is compiled.
With the data collected in this year’s expedition, the NABOS researchers will get an additional three years of high-resolution data, and be able to make far stronger assumption about the situation.
PhD student Till Baumann from the Alaska University is one of the researchers analyzing the collected data. There is no doubt about the dramatic change going on, he makes clear. The data show a rapidly increased heat flux from the Atlantic water into the top layer of the Arctic.
“It is changing the internal structure of the ocean, and parts of the Arctic are now actually becoming like an extension of the North Atlantic,” he explains.
“The Arctic ocean is unusual because there is cold water on top of cold water, and the cold water basically protects the sea ice. And now the Atlantic water, which previously was layered below, is weakening the stratification and makes heat go up easier. The layer of insulating cold water is heating up”.
It is the explanation why the melting is going so quickly, the researchers argue. They are confident that at least 50 percent of melting takes place from below, and believe it affects the whole Atlantic part of the Arctic.
The prospects look grim for the Arctic sheet. The amounts of heat coming in are big enough to ultimately melt it all.
Check out this demo diagram illustrating a mooring with some of the instruments that we have recovered so far this cruise. Illustration courtesy of Mooring Master Guru Ian Waddington.
Lunch: meatball soup, sausages, mashed potatoes, and salad
Tea Time: pastries with strawberry sauce, apples
Dinner: baked chicken, pasta, and salad