Re: New Ice Forming in Svalbard

Hi Alex,
Thanks for the update! Really useful for us and our analysts to get in-situ observations like this - the conditions around Svalbard have certainly been unusual this year, it will be very interesting to see how this progresses over the next few weeks/months.
Best of luck with your activities in the remaining part of the season!
Kind regards, Alistair

On Mon, 26 Aug 2019 at 12:51, Penelope Mae Wagner <> wrote:

---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: Alex Cowan<>
Date: Mon, Aug 26, 2019 at 12:32 PM
Subject: New Ice Forming in Svalbard
To: alex.polarcollective.northpole <>, Donald K. Perovich <>, Jennifer Hutchings <>, Penelope Mae Wagner <>, Nick Hughes <>, istjenesten <>

Although the Polar Collective team has completed its north pole
cruises for th…

New Ice Forming in Svalbard

Although the Polar Collective team has completed its north pole
cruises for the 2019 season they are still active in the Arctic. Two
days ago on August 23rd a team member reported new ice forming at
position 80.45N 13.99E.

Vessel M/S Expedition operated by G Adventures was travelling along
the ice edge in 6/10 ice of indeterminate age. Floes were extensively
melted (see image) but all ponds had frozen over and frost flowers
were forming and many ponds had already become fully white.

Large areas of what appeared to be open water were actually covered by
grease and nilas (see image) which showed evidence of finger rafting.

Most interestingly, the vessel passed through a pan several miles
across which was approximately 10-15cm thick, extremely soft, and
appeared to be new grey ice (see two attached images).

For the Polar Collective team, this is an unusually early date to see
the pack edge freezing in the Svalbard region, let alone for the melt
to be far advanced enough for new grey ice …

A North Pole Update

For those interested in the mysterious material found at the pole, we had it analysed at the Shirshov Institute of Oceanology at the Russian Academy of Sciences and it was determined to be mostly Melosira arctica, a diatom that is the most productive alga in the world! This was the Alfred Wegener Institute's Alga of the Year in 2016:

While it is extremely common in the Arctic, there was a reason this was a new sighting to everyone on board the ship. This alga has never been seen on the ice surface before and never in fresh water. Water samples taken from ponds indicate that it was indeed living in fresh water ponds as well as on the dry surface. If there are further developments we will continue to update the blog.

5 August Heading South

Travelling south through the pack we made excellent time, staying on our own lead from the way north almost the entire way. The most interesting observation today was the state of melt at 82N as we approached the pack edge north of Franz Josef Land. In addition to frozen ponds we encountered nilas ice which constituted as much as 1/10 out of 8-9/10 total coverage. Otherwise the pack this close to the edge was very heavily melted, with up to 4/10 melt on some floes, and rotten ice just 60-70cm thick. Is this the start of a period of freezing, or does this nils simply represent a significant layer of meltwater floating at the ocean's surface?

4 August At the Pole

We spent a full day on 4 August at an ice station approximately 3 NM from the pole. We parked just three cables away but drifted south during the night.

We had the same mix of old and first year reported for the day before, but one very notable feature was a soft and creamy white substance that we were unable to identify scattered across the ice (pictured). Found both in ponds and on the ice surface, it occurred in clusters and had melted itself 10+cm downwards into the ice. It appeared biological in origin and had the texture of a cosmetic cream. It could sometimes contain small areas that were yellow/brown in colour.

We had a small team of citizen scientists active on the ice (pictured), collecting melt pond depth profiles for two different ice types -- the measurements will be published here in a few days.

After leaving the ice station we returned to the pole in order to circle it at a distance of 0.7NM, making a world circumnavigation in around 30-45 minutes. In this time we saw t…

3 August To the Pole

During August 3rd we traversed from 88 to 90N. At 88 we had approximately 3/10 of our 10/10 ice be 200cm-thick old ice. Again, ponds had frozen rims.

Between 88 45'N and 89 20'N we again passed through the massif of old ice that was seen on the last two trips. The only difference noted was that it appeared more rotten than before (pictured) and was a little thinner and was often under 2m in thickness. In this region we had 8-9/10 ice, of which 6-7/10 was this old and dirty ice.

North of 89 20'N we had an approximately equal mix of old and first year ice (pictured).We continued to see frozen pond rims, and very small ponds were frozen over.

2 August North to 85

During 2 August we cruised as far north as 85N. During the early part of the day,as we approached 84N, we saw a lot of frozen pond tops, reflecting colder temperatures. We even saw some ponds that were frosting over (pictured). Ice thickness had increased to 80cm for first year ice and 100cm for older ice. While ponds were heavily linked there appeared to have been some draining and the concentration of melt was 2-3/10. Overall ice concentrations were relatively low compared with previous seasons and was just 8/10 overall, with 1/10 older ice.

Between 83.5 and 85N thickness increased to 100cm for first year and 200cm for old ice, and overall concentrations increased to 8-10/10. Ponds were heavily linked still (pictured) but the melt concentration had increased for most floes and fewer ponds were frozen. We noticed that on larger ponds only the rims were frozen, and only the very small ponds remained completely frozen.