Written Wednesday, 26 December
The phone in my cabin range at 8:00 this morning – two or three hours earlier than I would normally get up for my noon to midnight shift in the chemistry lab. Normally when the phone wakes me up it’s because there’s a problem with one of our instruments, but today I was pleasantly surprised that this was not the case. It was the chief scientist calling to say that it was my turn for a helicopter flight, and could I be on the flight deck in an hour. The daily flights are done so that the biologists led by Jan van Franeker (AKA, The Flying Dutchmen) can count the wildlife in the area. They take along one extra person each day to help spot animals and enjoy the view.
Today the view was not so good. There were low clouds around the ship when we took off and visibility shortly got worse and we had to return to the ship. We did get a great view of Polarstern as we circled the vessel several times while they prepared for our unexpectedly quick return. The flight was not all I had hoped for but still definitely worth getting out of bed for, and another chance will come.
After a nice lunch it was time to start my shift and the day became more like a normal one. The average work day of a marine chemist at sea is not as exciting as it might sound and does not involve helicopters. I measure carbon dioxide in water samples taken from many different depths by the CTD. Our instruments require 20 minutes to analyze each sample, which means that we need to keep them running 24 hours a day to keep up. My favorite part of the day is when, just after the CTD comes on deck after taking a profile of water samples, we go and take our sub-samples along with other chemists, biologists and physicists who all measure different things in the water. It’s nice to get out of the lab and get your hands wet (and cold) taking water samples.
Now I’m just back from dinner. The meals have been extra good these last few days because of Christmas. Tonight it was lobster. Later tonight I might have to go to the gym…
Craig Neill, University of Bergen
Photos: C. Neill
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Thursday, 27 December 2007 06:46
Polarstern: Of flights and water samplesWritten by Polarstern Expedition
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