Now that we have safely transferred the Arctic ABC technology team to the Marine Laboratory in Ny Ålesund with all their equipment, our plan was to first to head west towards the shelf break for one deep station in the core Atlantic water inflow; then we wanted to head north towards Rijpfjorden and the shelf-break north of Svalbard. Well, again weather changed our plans and, again, we have to adapt our sampling program. The wind had picked up after we had last checked the weather forecast in the marine lab in Ny Ålesund and a storm warning was now, again, on the horizon. Besides the difficulty of operating our gear in strong winds (and people’s stomachs feeling unhappy) the team on the bridge is very concerned about icing of the vessel. With the winds coming from the northwest and high waves hitting the boat and coming over the bow, the vessel would be covered in a solid and heavy ice layer, adding a lot of undesired weight. The only option at the moment is to stay in the fjord.
While this is rather (very) frustrating, all 14 of the science crew still onboard quickly agreed that no valuable ship time should be wasted by just sitting and waiting for better conditions. The observant cook must have noticed our disappointment and handed out a round of ice cream as we sit around the couch table in the lounge next to the mess and discuss our options. With that treat and the sense of an unexpected opportunity it takes no longer than some minutes before the group comes up with all kinds of new plans! Coralie sets up a new 3-station transect stretching across Krossfjorden (just north of Kongsfjorden where Ny Ålesund is located), Kim and Jon design an additional experiment to study individual copepod behaviour of a different species than before, Martí moves his planned experiment to this fjord, the trawl team hopes for more polar cod that are in good enough shape for sampling and so on. Soon we are underway to the innermost part of the fjord in the vicinity of the glacier front. And actually the moon is lighting up just enough of the winter wonderland fjord scenery to get a sense of place. In the protected fjord waters, sampling progresses according to Plan B (well, perhaps Plan M by now). We do keep up our hopes for better weather to allow offshore sampling!
-Bodil Bluhm (Professor, UiT – The Arctic University of Norway)