Blog from the RV Polarstern: MOSAiC trace gas fluxes update 4.0
By Byron Blomquist
We’re back. After 5 1/2 weeks of quarantine and travel, the leg 4 replacement crew is on Polarstern. And after 3 weeks of tough going to escape the ice and meet us in Svalbard, the leg 3 crew are finally heading back home. Cargo and crew exchange operations were completed in the fjord at Longyearbyen today and the ships will depart shortly: RV Merian and RV Sonne will head south for a 5-6 day trip back to Bremerhaven. Polarstern will return to the ice pack. Photo (R): Leonard Magerl
Our initial destination will be the location of the original MOSAiC Central Observatory to conduct a bit more sampling, collect remaining equipment, and select a location for the new ice camp. Hopefully this will be on nearby ice with sufficient unbroken surface area, but we won’t know for sure until we examine the situation first hand. At some point this summer we may need to move the camp farther north if the drift progresses too rapidly toward open water. Ludo and Hans-Werner did a fantastic job for us on leg 3, keeping the project going under very trying circumstances. We had anticipated the March-April polar sunrise would be one of the most interesting and important periods during MOSAiC and we made the decision to put the our most capable people in the field at that time. They came through for us all, enduring a lot of uncertainty and delay due to the emerging global health crisis and coping with extensive on-site disruptions due to ice dynamics. Steve and I really appreciate the efforts of Dean, Hans-Werner and Ludo over legs 2 &3. Now we have to step up our game a bit to maintain the standard.
The melt season at the original site officially began near the end of May, and from now on we can expect thinning ice and melt ponds. The ATMOS team has an even larger list of on-ice facilities to construct on this leg: two tethered balloon sites, the Met City tower, and a UAV launch site. We will keep you informed on our progress.
Photo of (almost) all of the MOSAiC leg 3 & 4 ATMOS Team; Photo credit: Byron Blomquist