Written Saturday, 22 December
A quick cup of coffee, then I am off to work, one flight of stairs down and along a long hallway. The night shift is looking forward to a well deserved time off, I myself sit down in front of the control screens and keep an eye on the sensors in the deep. Every single data point has to be surveyed and protocoled in detail to be suitable for later analysis.
The sondes and water samples come back on deck after their journey through 1,000 m of water. Many steps must be taken now quickly and accurately. The details of the processing depend on the fate of the water from the deep down. Some samples are sensitive to light and have to be transferred quickly to dark bottles, others have to be stored in airtight containers, and so a whole hour can pass before a few litres of water are processed, but without this much care the results of this expedition would be useless.
The seemingly crystal clear water now goes along many paths into the different laboratories. The samples coming with me have to pass through a filter to show results that are no longer surprising: the originally white filter is now tinted green. It has been known for a long time, but is nonetheless amazing, that even though the water was clear, one can see with the naked eye the traces of organisms so small that they are nearly invisible, yet are potentially influencing the fate of the whole planet.
My shift was over after filtration, and until the next shift I have some time to enjoy the warm sunshine of the polar day. There is nothing but water and ice as far as the eye can see, one could think that the area here is hostile to life, but I can see every day that it is not true.
Mark Olischläger, Alfred Wegener Institute
Photos: A. Brandt, University of Hamburg, M. Olischläger
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Sunday, 23 December 2007 06:37
Polarstern: A day with water samplesWritten by Polarstern Expedition
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