We spent several days breaking ice, which is quite a sensory experience – a cacophony of smashing, grinding, and growling accompanied by massive vibrations as this 100 m long, 10,000 ton ship slides over meter thick ice and crushes it, sending chunks of ice past the propellers and around the sides of the ship while traveling at a steady speed of 3 knots. But now, on Aug 12, we made it. We were all waiting in anticipation as we slowly traveled farther north. Past latitudes 86, 87, 88, 89! deg N, every day taking me further north than I have ever been before. Our main goal was the search for the perfect ice floe on which to set up our sampling station for 5 weeks of science. But as we past 88 deg, and then 89, it became apparent that we were nearing the North Pole. And when you’re that close, you have to go!
We paused for 24 hours at the pole, situated around 89 deg 58’ , for a North Pole science station. This was about 5 miles away from THE pole, blocked by a massive ice floe, but when you’re that close, you’ve made it.
We collected genuine North Pole water for an experiment, sampled genuine North Pole air, and even tasted genuine North Pole ice (refreshing, and slightly salty).
This was also the perfect opportunity to get a group photo on the ice in front of Oden.
Then we got to celebrate! The captain invited everyone to a toast on the ship’s bridge, followed by a 3-course dinner (and yes, we all had to dress up!) It was an opportunity to take a break from the science and step back, enjoying what a unique experience this is, and how lucky we all are to be a part of it. Not many people can say they’ve been to the North Pole (and on my first trip to the Arctic, no less!). And now I get to publish future papers with North Pole data, how neat!
The view from the North Pole always changes, since it is all covered by sea ice!
- Rachel Kirpes, Pratt Lab PhD student on the Oden