Heading Back to the Ice!

This afternoon we explored the bays of western Alexandra Land in Franz Josef Land. In Severnaya Bay (80.75N, 47.65E) the last fragments of fast ice were only a few hundred square metres, but there was several square miles of cake-sized (mostly 3-10m) pieces of first year ice, 20-30cm thick, dried ice and rotten. In Cambridge Strait to the east and north small strips of ice were more glacial brash than sea ice.

We hope to reach the pack to the north of FJL at approximately 0000 UTC.

Leaving Franz Josef Land's Fast Ice

We have spent the day in southern Franz Josef Land. At Tikhaya Bukhta we had broken up Cake-sized floes of first year ice, and some fast ice in the back of the bays.

Further east, around Hall and McClintock Islands, we had extensive 1st year fast ice 30cm thick, 4-5/10 coverage of melt ponds which were linked and open-topped; all had thaw holes and the ice is becoming rotten.

Towards the south of the channel between Hall and Hooker Islands at Cape Teghettoff the fast ice gave way to broken Cake/Small sized floes of the same ice, but with many heavy ridged sections which are up to 3m thick.

Arriving in Franz Josef Land

Today we traversed the ice between 83 30'N and 81 45'N, arriving at Rudolf Island in the north of Franz Josef Land this evening.

We have seen less old ice today, and all ice has been thinner than we have experienced further north. However, we have seen less melt on the floe surfaces in evidence.

At 83 20'N we saw around 3/10 old ice (150cm thick) and 7/10 1st year (100cm thick), and 2/10 melt cover on both. By 82N we had just 0-1/10 old ice, still around 150cm thick. 1st year ice decreased to 60-70cm in thickness at the same time. On both ice types we had just 1/10 melt cover by 82N, and on the 1st year ice we again saw very shallow ponds with very low freeboard. More rotten ice became evident at the edges of the 1st year floes but rotten ice was never extensive. 1st year floes were consistently up to Medium/Large.

On arrival in FJL we found very jumbled ice, in places it was more ridge than flat floe. In addition, around Rudolf Island more open water was evident, with ice…

Heading South

During July 14th, 50 let Pobedy steamed back south towards Franz Josef Land along meridians between 62 and 65E, getting as far as 86 10'N by the evening. We passed through 9-10/10 ice, with around 3-5/10 of this being old ice of up to 2m thickness.

Floes of 1st year ice are mostly Large, 100cm thick and some have a well developed system of linked melt pools with some thaw holes, with up to 4/10 coverage though most floes have melt pond coverage closer to 2/10. Today we saw some small areas of rotten ice in the young floes in the vicinity of 86 15'N. It will be interesting to see the state of melt tomorrow as we approach Franz Josef Land.

Floes of old ice are Small, occasionally Medium. Melt pond coverage is 2/10, and we suspect that some of the topography we are seeing is melt pools that have drained due to the high freeboard. Thaw holes are rare.

Most notably, we have had extremely northern polar bears. Yesterday we had a slim-to-average young bear at 89 35'N which result…

Black Ice at the Pole

This morning at 0930 UTC+1 we arrived at the Geographic North Pole. During the night, north of 89N ice greater than 4m thick was reported but we did not observe this.

At the pole we had 10/10 coverage, of which 9/10+ was multiyear. This was heavily weathered and hummocked genuine multiyear and definitely not 2nd year ice. Thickness was not as great as expected and most was around 150cm thick.

Melt was 2/10, frequently-linked ponds with open tops and no thaw holes.

Interestingly, some of the old ice was very dirty as can been seen in the picture. This appeared to be dust/dirt and not algae, and it was clearly present through most of the thickness of the ice and not just on the surface.

13 July -- Approaching the Pole

During the night of 12 July, between 84 and 87N, we encountered increasing quantities of old ice and the ship's speed reduced accordingly. Throughout today (13 July) we have been engaged with back-and-ramming as old ice has continued to be present and the first year ice has been thicker than yesterday. Throughout the day overall ice coverage has been 9-10/10.

Between 87 and 88.5N (always approximately along the 65E meridian) we have encountered First Year ice of 120cm thickness, very occasionally 140cm when close to 88N. Floes have been Medium-Large and there has been 2-3/10 melt coverage. Melt ponds have been open, some with thaw holes. Snowfall through today has accumulated on the surface of these ponds and gives the illusion that they have a frozen top. Ponds are linked in small groups of 2-3 ponds, but these groups have been discrete from each other. Unusually, several very large (30-60m by 30-40m) ponds have been seen.

Around 87N 1-4/10 of the ice was Multiyear or 2nd-year. …

11 July 2019, Continuing North; 84N

During 11 July 2019 we continued north towards the pole. We saw an increase in ice thickness and the appearance of small amounts of older ice. Note we have not distinguished between 2nd year and multiyear ice, though a lot of what we describe as multiyear is likely second year. This is due to a lack of confidence in our ability to distinguish the two.

84.26N, 64.04E: 9/10 ice, all First Year 100cm, Large floes. 2/10 melt, linked with frozen tops, very shallow, solid bottoms, very little freeboard to the ponds.

84.52N, 66.09E: 9/10 ice; 0/10 Multiyear 150cm, 9/10 First year 100cm, Small floes. 2/10 melt, linked with frozen tops, solid bottoms. Pond freeboard increased, perhaps 10cm.

84.59N, 65.96E: On station, no thickness recordings possible. 0/10 Multiyear with 1/10 melt, discrete ponds with open surface and solid bottoms, 10-15cm freeboard to ponds. 9/10 First year ice; Medium floes, 2/10 melt with linked ponds, open surface, all with thaw holes. Some rotten ice seen.