Showing posts from July, 2019

Re: Fast Progress South

Hi Alex,
Thank you for the updates and the photos, they really help with interpreting what we see in the satellite images! 
The Sentinel-1 satellite managed to get a picture of you heading south at 07:26 UTC yesterday (see attached). The freshly broken southbound track is clearly distinguishable from the faint northbound track. The melt is making seeing any features quite difficult, but we are picking smaller very dark patches that could either be ponds or openings, and some faint brighter traces of the ridging. 
The older ice you're seeing explains the difficulties the new Norwegian research icebreaker Kronprins Haakon had a week or so back north of Svalbard. They're in dry-dock for repairs following their encounter with the multi-year ice.
Nick Hughes                                                Norwegian Ice Service Leader of the Ice Service               Forecasting Division for Norther…

Fast Progress South

An easy passage south afforded by following our own track through the ice allowed us to cover more than four degrees of latitude overnight. During the day of 25 July we traversed the 60E meridian from 85.2N to 83.5N.

We experienced relatively low concentrations of ice for the latitude in this region, sometimes as low as 8/10, with Wide Breaks frequent.

Old ice varied in partial concentration from 0-3/10 with a general decline in the concentration of old ice as we sailed south. Thickness of the old ice was approximately 150-200cm. In some places we saw a clear layering to this older ice that suggested an age of 2 years (pictured; note ruler is marked in 20cm intervals). These floes usually had a relatively flat and less-featured surface, supporting the idea that they might be 2 years old and not older, but they did have more topography than undeformed 1st year ice.

With some exceptions, the degree of melt was lower than seen on the way north and on the previous trip, with melt coverag…

Ice Landing

After visiting the Geographic North Pole itself very early on 24 July 2019 we sailed south in search of a good floe to make a landing on. We stopped at 89 10.8N, 49 37.3E and made a landing within the large massif of old and sediment-filled ice that we passed through the previous day and which we saw at the North Pole on the previous cruise. The thickness of ice at the landing site was seen to be 200-300cm (see image)

We took the opportunity to take a closer look at the ice, measuring depth profiles across three ponds (image attached). Within an area of thicker ice in a discrete turquoise pond we had depths of up to 50cm and a freeboard of 36cm. Darker ponds that were a part of a linked system of flatter ice had freeboards of 6-10cm and depth of up to 20cm.

This dirty ice is notable for having a greater coverage of melt ponds (up to 4/10, vs 1-3/10 seen elsewhere) than other ice seen at the same latitudes. We believe this may be due to albedo effect of the dirt -- in a few ponds deep …

RE: Traversing the High 80s Pt2

This is a great example of the widespread ponding (flooding) you often get on undeformed first year ice. I really look forward to these messages, they are very interesting.


-----Original Message-----
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Sent: Tuesday, July 23, 2019 4:31 PM
Cc: Donald K. Perovich <>;;;;
Subject: Traversing the High 80s Pt2

As we continued north during 23 July we saw increasing amounts of old ice, requiring us to back-and-ram several times. Between 88N and 88.6N (along an approximate meridian of 60E) we saw partial concentrations of old ice varying from 3/10 to 5/10, with a thickness of 200-300cm. Floes were usually Small, occasionally Medium, and as usual embedded in the larger First Year floes. Melt is 2-3/10; discrete ponds with open tops and solid bottoms.

The First Year ic…

The North Pole!

At approximately 0030 UTC on July 24th we reached the North Pole. The ice here was shattered into Cake and Small pieces, occasionally Medium, with a very roughly 50/50 mixture of old and first year ice. Image below.

Approaching the North Pole

Late on 23 July we are approaching the Geographic North Pole. At a position of 89.38N, 50.63E we working through a large massif of old and very dirty ice. We encountered this same ice at the North Pole 10 days ago.

Several miles across, this massif of 10/10 ice is approximately 8/10 old ice at 100-200cm thickness where not deformed (note it is not heavily ridged but is best characterised as level floes). The ice is very dirty but not with algae; this appears to be sediment, perhaps from a river or shallow turbid sea. When ice is broken and overturns it can be seen that this sediment is present throughout at least a portion of the thickness of the ice. Note it is not always through the whole thickness of the ice; the lower layers are often clean, supporting the hypothesis that this is old ice, with sediment-free 1st year ice accreted beneath.

The ice is heavily melted, with 3-4/10 melt pond coverage; linked with open tops and some thaw holes.

Traversing the High 80s Pt2

As we continued north during 23 July we saw increasing amounts of old ice, requiring us to back-and-ram several times. Between 88N and 88.6N (along an approximate meridian of 60E) we saw partial concentrations of old ice varying from 3/10 to 5/10, with a thickness of 200-300cm. Floes were usually Small, occasionally Medium, and as usual embedded in the larger First Year floes. Melt is 2-3/10; discrete ponds with open tops and solid bottoms.

The First Year ice in this same area consists of mostly Medium floes of 100-120cm-thick ice with melt concentration decreasing from 4/10 to 3/10 as we sailed north; linked ponds with open tops and some thaw holes.

We are seeing quite high pond freeboards (rough estimation 15-20cm) and also evidence that very small shallow ponds have drained completely. We are also again seeing the very large ponds seen on the last cruise – image below.

We expect to arrive at the North Pole either late tonight or early tomorrow morning and we will hopefully be able…

Traversing the High 80s Pt1

We started observations today, 23 July 2019, at 87.7N, 59.9E. We immediately saw an increased amount of old ice compared with yesterday, with partial concentrations of 2/10 old ice in a total concentration of 10/10 ice overall.

Old ice was 180-200cm thick, and floes were Small and embedded within larger floes of first year ice. They had 2/10 melt; discrete ponds with open tops and solid bottoms.

First year ice was 110cm thick, with 4/10 melt; linked ponds with open tops and some thaw holes. Floe size was Large.

We have noted that the first year ice has a very well developed drainage system, with rivers running across the floes; image below.

22 July North Through the Fog

During the morning of 22 July we have progressed north from 82N almost as far as 85N. Total ice concentration has varied from 8-10/10, with most floes of Medium size.

The vast majority of the ice we have seen has been First Year, with a thickness of 100cm. There has usually been 0/10 old ice, but occasionally as concentrated as 1/10. This is usually 150cm thick, but at 84.8N we encountered some Small floes of old ice that are 3m thick.

The above observations are roughly similar to those we made last voyage. We would expect to see increasing amounts of old ice tomorrow as we approach the pole, but this will of course depend on how the ice has moved in the intervening 10 days.

Despite poor visibility we manage to fly the helicopter for around an hour at around 84N. We collected some aerial photographs of the ice, with photos matched to GPS position and a barometric altimeter.

A note on yesterday's update for Franz Josef Land -- we stated that the fast ice in Severnaya Bay had largel…

22 July First Ice

We met the pack last night on 22 July at 00:09 UTC, at position 82.10N, 52.07E. The edge was relatively distinct, with a transition from totally open water to 8-9/10 in the space of 0.25NM.

We had 8/10 ice, with 0/10 old ice at 150cm thick, and 8/10 first year ice 25cm thick. On the first year ice we had 3/10 melt, ponds all linked, open-topped, with some dried ice and some rotten ice. Floes varied from Cake to Medium in size.

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.

First Observation of the Season

We have made our first observation of the season! We woke up this morning at 0724 UTC to 9-10/10 First Year ice with a thickness of 100cm in the vicinity of 83.15N, 59.54E.

We are travelling in a lead of Cake-sized floes, but around us the ice is mostly Large floes of 200-500m, most extending beyond the range of our visibility.

Melt is at an early stage here, with only around 1/10 pond coverage, all of which appear very shallow. A few isolated floes show a different pattern of melting, with up to 4/10 coverage of linked but extremely shallow ponds.

There is some slight ridging but the topography is best characterized as flat floes.

We Are Preparing to Leave for Murmansk!

The Polar Collective team is packing equipment and preparing to fly out to the ship for our three visits to the North Pole this summer. We are also trialling a new wildlife sightings app that will eventually expand to include sea ice data.