For about two weeks the Polarstern had been fighting against a forbidding fortress of ice, and day after day there seemed to be very little progress. The scientists on board of this research icebreaker were less than happy. Some stations had already been given up when we were called to the Atka Bay for the second time. On Monday afternoon, it still looked like our goal was still very far in the distance.
In the middle of the night from Monday to Tuesday, around 2 a.m. the birthday parties of two scientists and a member of the helikopter crew were about to wind down. Suddenly, out of the blue, the happy news reached the “Zillertal”, the ship’s bar, that the Polarstern had reached the shelf ice edge. I could hardly believe it! After a bit of hesitating, I put on my Polar overall and went on deck. And to be sure, we had done it. A pier large enough to accommodate, as our Captain Uwe Pahl put it, “the Queen Mary”, had been created. A large weight fell off my heart, as it did off the hearts of many on board that Sunday. Not only the multimillion Euro project “Neumayer III” has been saved, but also our scientific programmes, at least in part.
I had only a few hours sleep until the expedition leader Uli Bathmann called me and asked me to the heli deck. When I got there, the helicopter was already in the air. On board were our Captain and the Captain of the “Naja Arctica”. They were on their way to check whether the shelf ice edge was suitable for unloading parts of the new research station off the Danish freighter.
For the second time I had the privilege to help Uli with the photographic documentation of the situation from the helicopter. During the first time two weeks ago the objective was to survey and record the unusually heavy ice coverage before we started this whole project. This time, we wanted to document the success of this laborious and meticulously planned operation. dokumentieren. The Polarstern has rammed a channel, 3.6 km long and 100 m wide, into Atka Bay, leaving enough manoeuvering space for the Naja Arctica. Around midday we said good-bye. I was a little bit nostalgic – who knows if I will ever see this place again. But the general feeling is one of getting on our way. The last part of the journey begins, and we are going to make the utmost of the stations still ahead.
Torben Riehl, University of Hamburg
The canal which Polarstern broke into the fast ice of Atka Bay
Location: 70°30'S, 8°11'W
The northern pier in front of the Neumayer station ready for the Naja Arctica
Location: 70°30'S, 8°11'W
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Wednesday, 16 January 2008 12:49
Good bye, Neumayer II!Written by Polarstern Expedition
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