Welcome to the Geonova Diary of the Norwegian scientists Yngve Kristoffersen and Audun Tholfsen who lived and worked on their ice drift station including the hovercraft “Sabvabaa”. From August 2014, the team was drifting for 353 days over a distance of 2.200 km along the submarine Lomonosov Ridge.
Sabvabaa team presents summary of their 353 days ice drift expedition in the Arctic.
Week 50: FRAM-2014/15 recover
Almost two months after the end of the expedition, Sabvabaa team provides you with the opportunity to read about how the expedition was made to happen and how it came to an end: what was the fate of the ice platform and how the hovercraft returned to land.
Week 49: Towards the end of an expedition
As the end of the expedition approaches, Sabvabaa gives you a report on the recent developments and plans for the near future.
Week 47 and 48: End of ice drift
Since open seas were approaching, the decision was made to move to landfast ice. After spare parts were brought from Longyearbyen and some repairs were made, the hovercraft was driven to the ice edge landfast to Greenland. This marked the end of 11 months of sea ice drift.
Week 46: Approaching Open Sea
Minor local ice activity may be deceiving - the whole region experienced completely different processes, as revealed by satellite images. The daily routine now is based on observing such dynamics. At this stage, patience is key.
Week 44 and 45: Station Nord
The past two weeks have been exceptional in that Yngve and Audun had low clouds and reduced visibility for only 35% of the time, the rest has been a true pleasure. The plan to work on the ice covered coast and fjords of Northeast Greenland is coming to reality. Where the objectives in this area are to gain insight into hovercraft driving conditions over fjord ice, demonstrate the capabilities of a hovercraft research platform and carry out water depth measurements in the ice covered passage from the shelf to Station Nord.
Week 43: fresh water
Week 43 was fallowed by a daily routine and the ice camp drifted 22 nautical miles. The crack behind the hovercraft widened to about 200 meter last week and started to come together again. As always, days of complete overcast and low light contrast dominate throughout the week. The vigorous snow melt generate fresh water which flood the low areas on the ice, saturate the snow and form melt ponds.
Week 42: First polar bear
Week 42 for Yngve and Audun was marked by the first appearance of Ivory gull and the polar bear. However, their food supplies are getting hurt by the warm environment and alternative dry foods are taking over.
Week 41: Week forty one of ice drift
This time Yngve and Audun present how significant oceanographic data sets obtained during FRAM-2014/15 can contribute to the research of oceanography. The summer weather treated them well this week when temperature on Monday reached +7 °C!
Week 40: Land in sight
This week brings major changes for the expedition: above zero temperatures and the sight of land. Thawing snow creates new challenges for the team: ice cracks do not heal any more by freezing, the snow becomes "rotten" - you sink in it. However an increasing number of wildlife spotted and the first glimpse of mountains in Greenland brings excitement to the team.
Week 39: one more airdrop
This week, progress was very slow: just 1 nautical mile of ice drift. The team received an air drop on Friday, which included antifreeze and radiator parts. Since the drift was slow and little science work was being carried out, the team could focus on recovering equipment: a video is included.
Week 38: Spring brings back life to Arctic
The weather has been much warmer lately in the Arctic. This not only means that more scientific work can be accomplished, equipment lost during the winter can be recovered, but also that wildlife is coming to the Arctic.
Week 37: different life forms
This week, the report from Sabvabaa team stationed in the Arctic includes many pictures of marine lifeforms in the scattering layer. The scientists need help from people with background in marine biology - feel free to contribute! Since power supply problems have been fixed, the team is also returning to CTD measurements.
Week 36: a snow bunting passed through camp 10 May
Since all of the data from Morris Jesup Spur has now been recorded and stored on a computer, the Sabvabaa team feels the pressure off - they don't have to stay up all night anymore, keeping the equipment running. Warmer temperatures and equipment brought in by an airdrop makes the situation much easier as well. End of seismic acquisition does not mean that the expedition is over - there is still science to do in the Arctic.
Week 35: Morris Jesup Spur
This week, the Sabvabaa team delivers an extensive report on the Morris Jesup Spur. Video images and core samples provide valuable information about the seabed, meanwhile seismic data reveals the architecture of the seabed and the development history of the subsurface. Especially intriguing are the sand volcanoes present on the seabed.
Week 34: Increasing wind, warming air.
Strong winds ensure a constant ice drift. They also bring warmer temperatures, which makes work much easier in the High Arctic. However, they also cause snow drifts to build up, which is one more task to manage for the team. Warmer temperatures also mean that the camps needs a freezer to be built. The report includes one more video of fishes which live deep below the surface.
Week 33: Strong wind equals fast ice drift
This week started out slow, but was followed by an unusually fast ice drift caused by strong winds with gusts over 50 knots. A new hydro hole was cut and seismic imaging was resumed after a four week break.
Weeks 31 & 32: Sabvabaa back on track
The team masters the challenges of the past weeks that were imposed on them by the ice with their strong will, skills and supply from the air.
Weeks 29 & 30: “No greater risk to life than walking the streets of any city”
A wide crack divided the Sabvabaa camp right next to the hovercraft. The team is still at high spirits despite facing immense challenges yet again.
Farewell to the Lomonosov Ridge
The team has drifted of the Lomonosov Ridge towards the Fram Strait. Yngve and Audun present a farewell with insights about the origin of the ridge, previous scientific research and how FRAM-2014/15 contributes.
Week 28: First glimpse of the Sun
First glimpse of the Sun in the spring brings a feeling of energy for the scientists in the Arctic. This is very useful because there is always something to do: keeping science instruments going is the main task, however snow build-ups a neverending task as well. The team still has to run the main engine instead of generators as a power supply, which raises concern about fuel consumption.
Week 27: submarine channels and campsite mainteneance
Ice drift was very slow this week, however, the camp was drifting over an unexplored part of the seabed - a submarine channel, where seismic sections were taken and provided an insight into sediment transport mechanisms of the Arctic. In the campsite, most of the work was related to mainteneance of the hovercraft, recovering frozen-in fuel and making ski-trips looking for autonomous bathymetric buoys.
Week 26: First signs of Spring
On Saturday, Yngve and Audun were celebrating a half-year ice drift milestone with a nice dinner. However, the air gun stopped firing during the celebrations and seismic acquisition was the priority at the time, which resulted in repairs carried out throughout the night. It is still cold and the winds are strong in the Deep Arctic: The team was busy fighting the effects of snow around the hovercraft for the whole week. Nevertheless, the first signs of springtime can already be experienced: On a clear day, you don't need a headlamp to work outside anymore.
While the team is focusing on science, they also have to think about conserving fuel while meeting power demands of the campsite. Along with geological matters, the report also includes fresh insights about fish species in the Arctic.
For the last two weeks, the team was busy with science. Finally, the report has arrived, twice as thick, full of fresh intriguing data and with plenty of seismic images to interpret. The scientists started a continuous seismic profile across the Lomonosov Ridge and discovered disturbed sediment on top of the ridge - possible evidence of an extraterrestrial impact. Even though there is no animal activity, it is quite different underwater: the team captured a video of a fish at the bottom of the sea.
Week 22 (26 Jan. – 2 Feb. 2015)
This week, the team is working on getting a windmill working again, also, one of their computers is having trouble. However, the scientists are getting great seismic and bathymetric data, which will contribute to the knowledge of Deep Arctic.
Week 21 (19 – 26 Jan. 2015)
As always, the team is on a tight schedule: the campsite still needs a constant power supply, however, after some repairs and testing out a new ice saw, seismic data acquisition is back.
Week 20: Week 20 on the ice (12 – 19 Jan. 2015)
This week, Yngve and Audun tackle a broken power supply: no more light, showers and, worst of all, seismic shooting. It seems like extreme weather is taking a toll on the equipment, but the team will make repairs soon enough.
Week 19: It’s been a great year! (5 – 12 Jan. 2015)
This week, the campsite is moving very slowly over an unexplored part of the Lomonosov ridge. The team is thereby getting great seismic data. An ice crack developed and almost swallowed three of the team's foodboxes.
Week 18: Pork roast in the High Arctic (29 Dec. 2014 – 5 Jan. 2015)
Yngve and Audun celebrate the New year in the High Arctic with a pork roast dinner, extreme tempereatures, loss of power and a new pressure ridge forming nearby the campsite.
Summary of activities in 2014: It’s been a great year! (Aug. – Dec. 2014)
Saying goodbye to the last year, Yngve & Audun provide us with a summary of 2014. A lot of work has been accomplished and relevant scientific knowledge has been generated, along with extreme experiences.
Week 17: Merry Christmas in the North (22-29 Dec. 2014)
For Christmas, the team delivers an extensive report including an airdrop from the Norwegian Air Force, a missing tent, Christmas dinner and even more science. Meanwhile, the fox seems to be away for holidays.
Week 16: Waiting for Santa (15-22 Dec. 2014)
Unfortunately, the Christmas air drop was delayed until after the weekend. The team has already run out of warm mittens, which means a couple more days with cold fingers. Meanwhile, the team is busy with science as well as chasing foxes.
Week 15: Back on track (8-15 Dec. 2014)
The team gets back to research since all of the campsite rescue operations are over. Their new friend becomes a regular dinner time visitor. The moon went below horizon on Sunday, so the upcoming weeks will be in complete darkness.
The team struggles on with rebuilding the campsite and recovering some of the lost gear, therefore science tasks are still limited. Their new friend visits them more often, sometimes even borrowing pieces of equipment! A Christmas airdrop is expected soon too.
Week 13: A new friend (24 Nov.-1 Dec. 2014)
In the lonely wilderness of the Arctic, the team finds a new friend. However, there is still plenty of rebuilding to do after the destruction of the campsite two weeks ago. The new buddy needs a name - give the team some suggestions in the comments.
Week 12: Ice causes big trouble… again (17-24 Nov. 2014)
This week, the biggest news is that unpredictable ice movement destroyed a part of the camp. This is the third time in four months when the team has to start from scratch. While the team is busy sorting this out, they also get a new visitor...
Week 11: Busy with science (10-17 Nov. 2014)
Since the beginning, the team has travelled 340 nautical miles. This week is no different from the others - there is always plenty of work to do. Setbacks caused by irregular ice movements, equipment failing in cold weather and just simple logistics make sure that this expedition is no vacation.
Week 10: Off the charts (3-10 Nov. 2014)
This week, the temperatures drop below what the instruments can register. These conditions are challenging for the team and the equipment. However, cold weather also brings clear skies, which provide a beautiful view during the night, which, of course, lasts 24 hours a day.
Week 9: Slow and cold (27 Oct. – 3 Nov. 2014)
As the winter comes, going gets slow and cold. Due to dropping temperatures and wind, just staying warm takes effort. Nevertheless, the team is on a steady course and continues collecting data.
Week 8: Smooth sailing (20- 27 Oct. 2014)
Favourable winds prevail: the team drifts across Lomonosov ridge again and more research is carried out during three crossings of the ridge. New data is collected from the seabed, including rocks, seismics and video footage.
Week 7: Boots on the ice (13- 20 Oct. 2014)
Ice cracks divide the camp but the routined team is staying calm and appreciates the lessons learned. A submarine passes by, and deep see footage is provided by eventually one of the deepest missions of a GoPro camera ever.
Week 6: Time to relax (06 – 13 Oct 2014)
The team looks forward to be able to move back into the hangar after last week's heavy snowfall and their escape. The route of the ice drift offers some challenges. For the first time, the team took a day off - and traces of life outside the camp have been observed.
Week 4: 40 tons of camp (22 – 28 Sept. 2014)
The crew has finished the setup of the camp and is ready for the winter. The drift continues northwards and the two scientists turn out to be skilled engineers.
It has been a touch week for the two research scientists in the Arctic Ocean. Persisting low pressures have resulted in high winds and difficult work conditions. Nevertheless, seismic data has been recorded.
Week 3: Understaffed (15 – 21 Sept. 2014)
The ice drifts in favor of the team, giving them enough time to prepare the camp. Yet with all the work to be accomplished, the duo feels a little under-staffed. The midnight sun has disappeared and the scientific instruments do their job.
Week 2: Ice drift and camp life (8 – 14 Sept. 2014)
As the drift started unexpected to the south, the team got valuable days to prepare for the upcoming challenges of arctic winter. Besides the garage, the first scientific instruments got installed.
Week 1: The first week of ice drift (30 Aug. – 7 Sept. 2014)
The courageous journey of the team begins! Since the drift during the first week has kept the crew at the foot of slope of Lomonosov Ridge, priority has been given to other commitments.