CRYOSAT and KAREN: Awesome work, what a privilege

Today was another great day! Once again, the Sun was shining over our sea-ice sites and there was very little wind. Even cold temperatures (-32°C) feel pleasant when the Sun shines and there is no wind.

Troy (Ken Borek pilot), Christian, Josh and Arvids standing next to the Twin Otter before leaving Site 8. Temperature: -32°C. (F. Beckers)

I noticed today that all four of us perked up when we realised that the weather was on our side and that our colleagues from BAS and UCL would be arriving in Alert today.

Our moods improved further when we finally got out on the ice at Site 8 (86N 80W). Once out on the ice with the plane off, I always take a moment to enjoy the sound of the snow crunching under my boots as I walk to my sampling location or while collecting my gear.

Ken Borek Twin Otter with Josh measuring snow depth with the magna probe and Christian in the background (at Site 7) collecting ice thickness with the electromagnetic instrument. (F. Beckers)

Watching the others walk off into the distance to start work always reminds me of scale and perspective of this vast, mostly white landscape. It also gives me an opportunity to reflect on just how awesome this type of work is and how fortunate I am to take part.

It was interesting to see how the snow and ice changes this far out (two hours travel in the Twin Otter). We are well beyond the fast ice and into the mobile pack ice and we could see some newly refrozen leads and cracks, but managed to find safe landing sites near our targeted points.

We completed one full site and one compressed site today, which bring us to four. Tomorrow the weather forecast is not looking good but we are hoping to visit two or even three sites, sites 6, 5, and 4 (or 1).

The snow micropenetrometer site on multiyear ice near the landing zone at Site 7. (F. Beckers)

On return we could greet our colleagues from BAS & UCL who arrived just before us. This evening we had a meeting to prepare for tomorrow and the rest of the campaign. We still have 10 or 11 sites to complete in the next 6 days and some are beyond the range of the Ken Borek Twin Otter with us and all our gear on board. Therefore we are looking into the possibility of getting a fuel cache out on the ice with the help of the BAS Twin Otter to increase our range.

Post from Justin F. Beckers, University of Alberta

Read more about the campaign: To the Arctic for CryoSat and beyond

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