September 25 – Underway!

The MOSAiC expedition is finally underway! Marc Oggier and I (Rob Rember) arrived in Tromsø on the 10th and 11th of September, respectively. After several years of planning, the RV Polarstern set sail on September 20th from Tromsø, Norway. The two weeks prior to leaving Tromsø were filled with sorting and loading equipment into containers on the dock that was destined to be stored either within the warmth of the ship or items that could be stored in containers on deck. The UAF shipment was delivered on time and is all onboard.

Accounting for your shipments is always the first big hurdle to overcome in these types of projects. In the three days immediately prior to departure we were allowed onboard the ship to unpack some of that equipment and begin setting up the labs. These set up days are always very intense as we unpack our gear and verify that everything we shipped halfway around the world arrived in good condition. The equipment then needs to be set up in our assigned spaces and items we refer to as consumables (such as chemicals, lab towels, pipette tips etc.) have to be put away in drawers and cupboards all the while hoping we will have enough space for everything.

The chemistry lab where UAF work will be based is all set up and my days are currently filled with testing the AA3 nutrient analyzer (the square instruments in the center of the lab bench) to make sure it will perform well when real samples arrive in a couple of weeks. This piece of equipment measures the concentration of nitrate/nitrite, phosphate, silicate and ammonia in dissolved water samples (seawater, snow and melted sea ice). Equipment set up on a ship always requires a lot of testing as the clean, filtered water provided by the ship that we use to make reagents and standards for our measurements needs to be tested frequently to make sure it is consistent and does not change significantly from day to day.

We have had a relatively smooth cruise through the Barents Sea to our current location in the St. Anna Trough near Severnaya Zemlya. We have had waves heights of less that 3 meters (~9 feet) most of the time. We are currently heading to retrieve some ocean bottom seismometers in the Laptev Sea that the Alfred Wegener Institute deployed last year and should encounter our first ice today or early tomorrow. After that we will head north and begin to look for the location where we will set up camp for the next year.

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