MOSAiC Blog: Sea ice rescue training

29 January, 2020

Atmosphere and ice climate scientist Dr Markus Frey is on his way to join the MOSAiC (Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate) expedition. Markus will be using the purpose built SSAASI-CLIM laboratory on board RV Polarstern to research the interaction between sea ice and atmospheric particles. Markus shares his experiences of sea ice rescue training and departing from Tromsø on board Russian Icebreaker Kapitan Dranitsyn:


Wednesday, 29 Jan 2020

Tromsø – 69°40′58″N 18°56′34″E on board the Russian ice breaker Kapitan Dranitsyn

T -6ºC / wspd 7.5 m s-1

Almost a week has passed since I arrived North of the Arctic circle in Tromsø to acclimatise and get ready for leg 3 of MOSAiC. The 64 other science participants arrived and joined the 2 days of safety briefings hosted by the Norwegian Polar Institute (NPI). Finally some real winter snow, but only 3.5 hours of sunlight this time of year!

On my way to NPI looking East across the fjord to the mainland, Tromsdalen and lights of a foothill neighbourhood below Storsteinen, a mountain ledge about 420 m above sea level. In the foreground is part of the Tromsø museum, which holds MS Polstjerna, a 1949 seal hunting vessel. Photo_Markus Frey.

The course units deal with sea ice safety, what equipment to use in case of an emergency, communication devices we have at our disposal and also data management. Most fun is the hands-on sea ice rescue training, a nice team-building exercise trying out the floatation suit in the cold waters of the fjord next to NPI.

Sea ice rescue training right next to NPI. The floatation suit keeps me above the water, but slowly fills with the 2ºC water of the fjord making you move quickly to get back to land. Photo_Markus Frey.

On Monday 27 January 2020 we boarded the Russian icebreaker Kapitan Dranitsyn, which will be our home for the next 2-3 weeks to take us to RV Polarstern. Although it is very likely that we’ll be forced to weather out a storm in a fjord nearby, we are excited to be on our way!

Boarding the Kapitan Dranitsyn in the evening hours of 27 Jan 2020. Photo_Markus Frey.


Kapitan Dranitsyn is a Russian icebreaker, built in Finland for the former Soviet Union. Since October 1995 she has been used as a research vessel by AARI and can do 2 knots through 1.2m level ice. Photo_Markus Frey.

Look out for the next blog when SSAASI-CLIM enters the ‘field’ in the Arctic sea ice.