MOSAiC Blog: Storm on the Barents Sea

3 February, 2020

Dr Markus Frey is on board Russian icebreaker Kapitan Dranitsyn, waiting for a weather window to make the journey north to join the MOSAiC expedition on board RV Polarstern. German research icebreaker RV Polarstern is staying close to the north pole for a full year to enable the closest ever look at the Arctic to better understand global climate change. Markus will be using the SSAASI-CLIM laboratory to research the interaction between sea ice and atmospheric particles.

Monday, 3 Feb 2020

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

T -4ºC / wspd 2 m s-1

We are now almost a week on board the Russian icebreaker, but have not made any progress yet on our way towards RV Polarstern due to a storm over the Barents Sea further North (Fig.1). We spend much of our time getting to know each other, as well as organising ourselves and the complex MOSAiC science, in numerous team meetings spread over the day. General seminars on sea ice navigation, polar bear safety and the Aurora Borealis help pass the time.

Fig.1 Wave heights in the Barents Sea here from a weather model were on the order of 7-8 meter over the last few days, preventing us from going North to the sea ice edge. Kapitan Dranitsyn is an icebreaker, which is only suitable for seas below 3 meters.

The storm in the Barents Sea has kept us in the shelter of a fjord, where the water is calm, waiting for a gap in the weather to make a dash north to the edge of the sea ice.

Fig. 2 On board Russian icebreaker Kapitan Drasnitsyn in the shelter of a Norwegian fjord. Photo_Markus Frey.
Fig 3. A clear early afternoon looking East from Kapitan Dranitsyn with the Lyngen Alps in the far background. The Lyngen Alps are world famous for skimountaineering. Photo_Markus Frey.

Finally, there is word that we’ll eventually leave tonight around 23:00, to steam North and finally see the ice … at least 10 days of very slow travel through the ice will follow. A long voyage lies ahead. Godspeed!