The Norwegian Sea is calmer than the Baltic had been during our three week summer holiday, and we are now steaming steadily northwards. People are busy preparing their gear for the first station and finding their way on the Polarstern.
Polarstern usually spends our summer in the Arctic and our winter in the Antarctic, with relatively short stops in Bremerhaven in between. This year, two cruises have been carried out in the ice covered area north of Svalbard already, and two additional cruises are planned in the Arctic after our cruise has finished.
Before the ship leaves Bremerhaven in the spring, everybody who will carry out research during the season will pack their gear in boxes or containers and have it put onboard. On Polarstern, everything is stored in such a way that the gear needed at a specific cruise will be stored in an accessible part of the ship. So when a cruise starts, everybody has to locate their storage area. Unfortunately, there had been some miscommunication, and it turned out that our container had been put in storage for the next cruise leg – with the opening right against a wall, and on a deck were containers can only be moved when the eight containers located at the deck above are lifted out of the ship. Luckily, the main instrument we are using, the CTD, is already in place, and the container mainly contains spare parts.
Our group is responsible for measuring salinity and temperature in the water column, and additionally for taking water samples that will be used by other groups to determine nutrients, chlorophyll, species composition and other things that I am not fully aware of.
Our cruise is a so-called “Hausgarten” cruise. The Hausgarten is an area in the Fram Strait where the state of the ocean has been measured by the AWI for many years. As the Fram Strait is one of the main gateways to the Arctic Ocean, these longterm measurements help us understand how the inflow into the Arctic is changing.