Daily Reports

September 23, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen

Position: 83 52' N, 01 41' W. Temp. minus 12 degrees, wind 2 knots from the north, partly clouded, good visibility until noon when ground fog arrived. Light snow fall from 2000 to 0200 hours. The sun was over the horizon at 0730 hours.

Started at 0845 hours, but the engine stalled shortly thereafter. The glass of the coarse fuel filter turned out to be frozen solid with ice from water separated out of the diesel fuel. This was particularly strange, because in preparation for getting refueled from ODEN the fuel system was cleaned and all fuel filters changed. Now the process was repeated and the engine restarted. Remaining spare filters will cover three more surprises like this. When the engine was back up again, the visibility was gone.

Downloaded a satellite image from 22 September where the ice edge is well defined. The closest ice edge is 90 nautical mile to the southeast at 20 degrees East, but the challenge so far has been finding ways through the ice rubble in this direction. If we compensate for ice drift since early August, and consider our position relative to the sea ice cover, we are now roughly in a latitude sense where we had our first ice problems on the way north. However,we went north about 100 km to the east of where we are now. By now, we have spent 1/3 of the fuel obtained from ODEN - remaining fuel is 1800 liters.

No sign of animal life in the white landscape.


September 22, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen

Position: 83 54' N, 01 36' W. Temp. minus 10 Centigrades (corrected), winds 0-6 knots from the north, fog and white-out until noon, usable visibility from 1300 -2000 hours with sunshine from a clear sky.

The area has ice rubble in all directions except north, made only five minutes of latitude south after having to detour and go north again three times. Ice drift is due south at 200 m/hour.

Saw a seal in a lead.

All is well.


September 21, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen

Position: 84 00' N, 00 42' W. Temp. minus 7 Centigrades (corrected), winds 7 knots from the east-northeast and in the afternoon from north-northeast, a complete lid of low clouds and white-out all day.

After an Arctic dream day yesterday, we are back in the white-out world. The good news is that after 11 days of continuous northward ice drift, the wind direction has changed and today, the ice drift turned west-southwest. The speed is about 200 m/hour.

No sign of animal life.

All is well, we are just delayed, that is all.


September 20, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen

Position: 84 02' N, 00 09' W. Temp. minus 12 Centigrades (corrected), winds 5 knots from the southeast, broken clouds, the sun visible all day, good driving condtions.

An Arctic Ocean dream day in terms of visibility, but cold and we better get used to it. Proceeded very cautiously because of the lack of friction needed to control hovercraft motion, but nevertheless got stuck four times. Logged 18 nautical miles, but only 7 minutes of latitude.

Met an area of very messy old ice which was not penetrable by hovercraft and had to detour several miles. Eventually found a way around to the west. This is our first time operating at sub-zero temperatures. Going in and out of open water does not seem to present any problems for the skirt so far.

Saw an ismåke (Ivory Gull) today.

All is well.


September 19, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen

Position: 84 10' N, 00 33' W. Temp. minus 4 Centigrades (corrected), winds from the southeast 6-10 knots, low clouds and white-out all day.

Another day with low clouds and white-out. Not much to do about that.


September 18, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen

Position: 84 09' N, 00 13' W. Temp. minus 4 Centigrades (corrected), wind 5 knots from the southeast, overcast, but clear sky near the horizon in the morning, the sun cleared the horizon at 0630 hours. Ground fog came and went before noon, and white-out after 2000 hours.

This is the first time in six days the sun has been visible and also there are light conditions for driving. Had five hours of useable visibility, logged 7 nautical miles, but were stuck twice for a total of six hours, mainly because of low friction conditions. The glazed surface of frozen, waterlogged snow has virtually no friction and require we proceed cautiously since craft carries a heavy load of fuel. The course is south and southeast, but as soon as you park on an ice floe, the ice drift relentlessly take you back in the opposite direction. On the Gakkel Ridge, the ice drift was to our advantage, this time not.

Saw a sea gull (brownish in colour).

All is well.


September 17, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen

Position: 84 13' N, 00 23' W. Temp. minus 1 Centigrade (corrected), wind 7 knots from southeast, low cloud cover, white-out all day, heavy rain for 10 minutes at 0620 hours.

Ice drift is still to the northwest at 200 m/hour. The 10 cm thick ice on the melt water ponds now have nearly 3 cm of water on top. Snow thickness is on average 8 cm and on large flat areas the melt has given the snow surface a brownish tint.


September 16, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen

Position: 84 13' N, 00 22' E. Temp. minus 1.5 Centigrades (corrected), winds 8-12 knots from the southeast, overcast, fog coming and going, white-out, light rain 1100-1200 hours.

This is the 5th consecutive day of complete overcast and winds from the southest at 8-23 knots. From the start of this weather situation last Wednsday, the ice has moved 28 nautical miles to the northwest and we have just crossed the Gakkel Rift Valley beneath and will be crossing the geographic Greenwich Meridian in a few hours.

No sign of animal life today.

All is well.


September 15, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen

Position: 84 12' N, 01 22' E. Temp. minus 2 (corrected), winds 16-22 knots from the southeast, low clouds, white-out, light rain 0800-1000 hours.

This is the fourth day of complete overcast and persistent strong winds from the south and south east. The ice has moved over 22 nautical miles to the northwest in response to the windstress. Pressure ridges are being formed. We are now back over the Gakkel Rift Valley. With temperatures near zero degrees and short periods light rain daily, the snow cover is melting and melt ponds all have 1-2 cm of water on top of the 10 cm thick ice.

No light conditions for driving today.

No sign of animal life.

All is well.


September 14, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen

Position: 84 08' N, 02 45' E. Temp. minus 1 Centigrade (corrected), wind from the south reaching gale force (22 knots) at 0800 hours, but generally more than 12 knots all day. Wind direction changed to southeast from the afternoon on. Low clouds and white-out all day, light rain between 1700 and 1830 hours.

The snow on the ground is to some degree water logged and snow thickness is in the range 5-13 cm. On the refrozen melt ponds, there is slush on top of 10 cm thick, but very soft ice. Due to the light conditions, the hovercraft has not moved a centimeter over the ice during the last 2.5 days, but the wind from the south has driven the ice about 5 nautical miles to the north and then 4 miles to the west over the last 24 hours.

The EM instrument for ice thickness measurements is now operational again after the polar bear molested the data cable. Advice from Canada and Bergen was very useful.

Incidentally, we are now at the same latitude as the first Soviet ice drift station North Pole-1 with Ivan Papanin and his men were on November 1, 1937. One and a half month later, they were at the latitude of Station Nord (81 36' N) about 90 km off the coast.

No sign of animal life today.

All is well.


September 13, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen

Position: 84 04' N, 03 20' E. Temp. minus 1 Centigrade (corrected), up to 17 knots wind from the south-southeast, overcast and dense fog all day.

The wind is driving the ice at up to 750 m/hour to the north and we have drifted 4 nm straight north over the last 24 hours. A polar had paid an unnoticed visit during the night. Instead of taking an interest in the three boxes with food on deck, the animal had chewed up the serial connectors joining two sections of the data cable from the EM ice thickness instrument. Repair is being done, but so far no success.

All is well.


September 12, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen

Position: 84 00' N, 03 38' E. Temp. minus 3 Centigrades (corrected), no wind, clear sky from 0800 hours, but ground fog and no visibility. Fog lifted for one hour at about 1100 hours. In the evening overcast and white-out. Light rain between 2000 and 2400 hours.

Got about half an hour driving in between when the fog lifted and closed in again. Had a polar bear aound the hovercraft in the evening. He moved away as I started the engine, but seem to keep the hovercraft under surveillance.

Saw one snow bunting.


September 11, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen

Position: 84 01' N, 03 54' E. Temp. - 3 Centigrades, wind 6 knots from the west-southewest, partly clouded with sun visible from 0730 hours, ground fog on and off during the day and complete white-out after 1800 hours.

Was able to get two hours of driving and made 11 nautical miles in southerly direction. Got stuck twice in melt water ponds as the 10 cm thick, but soft ice on the ponds is still not strong enough to carry the craft if you move very slow. Once you fall through, there is an extra topographic gradient to overcome for a craft with no momentum and a heavy fuel load. Used the winch to get out. The pack ice (1.1-1.6 m thick) is broken up and messy in all directions. Had 35 lead crossings over a distance of 27 km.

Saw two seals in a lead.

All is well.


September 09-10, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen

Sept. 9: Position 84 18' N, 03 16' E. Temp. -2 Centigrades (corrected), calm and white-out all day. Ice drift is to the west at 200 m/hour. Run up on a ridge late last night in deteriorating visibility and came off in the early morning after 7 hours work.

Sept. 10: Position 84 12' N, 03 28' E. Temp. 0 Centigrades (corrected), no wind, white-out through the morning until 1030 hours. After 1400 hours white-out and dense fog moving in. Ice drift is to the south at 200 m/hour. Had 2 hours of useable visibility and moved 6 nm in southerly direction with ice thickness measurements and two calibration stops.

All is well.

 


September 6-8, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen and Gaute Hope

Sept. 6: Position 84 26' N, 03 13' E. Temp. + 1 Centigrades, wind 6 knots from northwest, white-out all day and snow fall after 2200 hours. Ice drift is due south at 200 m/hour and taking us away from the rift axis. It is time to pick up the instruments, but there is no visibility to drive.

Sept. 7: Position 84 23' N, 03 54' E. Temp. + 2 Centigrades, wind 7 knots from the north. Good visibility from the early morning 0700 hours until 1400 hours. Picked up the remaining two seismic buoys and moved about one degree of longitude to the east (10.5 km) and parked to wait for ODEN. We now had about 100 liters of diesel left.

Our 19 days of operational monitoring of the microearthquake activity on Gakkel Ridge with three deployments on two contrasting sections of the rift valley, was very successful. Several hundred events were recorded. In terms of operation, it has involved only two people, and the opportunity to continuously monitor progress and respond with action needed to optimize the science. It has demonstrated the usefulness of hovercraft as an alternative logistic science platform for projects which involve relatively light weight equipment (few hundred kilos).

Sept. 8: Position 84 20' N, 03 57' E. Temp. 0 Centigrades, wind 5 knots from the east, overcast and fog. NOTE! Comparison between the more accurate temperature monitoring system on ODEN and the hovercraft suggests that the temerature sensor on the hovercraft is giving readings which are + 4 Centigrades too high!!! Hereafter, our stated temperature is corrected accordingly. ODEN arrived at 0830 hours, and made a deep CTD cast and biological station while the hovercraft received 2654 liter diesel, some minor food items,

we had a shower, discussed ice conditions and the transit south. The Danish UNCLOS work had been very successful. Among the achievements were about 300 kilos of rocks recovered by dredging from the slopes of Lomonosov Ridge. These are, to the best of my knowledge, the first samples of Lomonosov Ridge basement ever obtained.

Due to notorious white-out conditions, the option of taking the hovercraft on the deck of ODEN for the return transit south has been seriously considered and generously offered in spite of marginal crane capacity for loading and unloading. However, the ice thickness measurements that can be obtained with the hovercraft is a unique scientific contribution at a time when health of the Arctic Ocean ice cover is in a state of flux. We obtained a continous ice thickness profile from the ice edge to 85 N on the way north, and would also like to do so on the way south. However, there are some less attractive consequences. We will be severly delayed in reaching the ice edge due to poor light conditions for driving dominated by white-out. Therefore the crew member Gaute Hope boarded ODEN for the return to Longyearbyen in accordance with the stipulation laid out in the FRAM-2012 cruise plan. I will drive the hovercraft back to the ice edge and carry out the underway ice thickness measurements. I will also use the opportunity to shoot a seismic profile drifting between 83 N and 82 N across a major sediment drift banked up against the northern flank of Yermak Plateau. This sediment drift is a target for future scientific drilling in the Arctic Ocean as it contains a record of the strength of inflow of Atlantic Water into the Arctic Ocean. The extent of this work will be adjusted according to how well progress is made.

NORBJØRN's sailing schedule suggest a possible pick-up at the ice edge at about 27 September or 10 October. The hovercraft's food provisions may last until mid-October.

Saw "en ismåke" (Ivory Gull) on Sept. 8th.

All is well.


September 5, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen and Gaute Hope

Position: 84 30' N, 03 15' E. Temp. +2 centigrades, winds 12 knots from the north-northwest, overcast. From 0900 to 1500 hours, the visibility was fair, but the diffuse light rendered no clear definition of surface features, otherwise white-out all day.

The ice drift was 11 km due south over the last 24 hours, and is rapidly taking us away from the rift axis. We recorded six small earthquake events. ODEN is about 185 nautical miles to the norheast of us and started the transit towards our position at 1800 hours (our time). We will pick up our instruments and move east as soon as the visibility permits driving.

Another day with no sign of animal life.

All is well.


September 4, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen and Gaute Hope

Position: 84 36' N, 03 24' E. Temp. +2 centigrades, winds 8 knots from the northwest, overcast, useful visibility from 1600-1830 and after 2100 hours, otherwise white-out.

At 1638 hours, we felt and heard the rumble of a local earthquake and recorded our nicest event to date. Several small ones followed. One of our instruments was over the rift valley floor and the two others 5 km away, up over the southern flank. This is where the rift valley is the deepest (5400 m) area in the Arctic Ocean.

The EM sensor for ice thickness measurements has given us problems since the incident where the supporting boom broke and the EM instrument fell into a melt pond. We are communicating with experts in Canada and running tests to get it ready for the home trip. So far the results are promising.

No sign of animal life.

All is well.


September 3, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen and Gaute Hope

Position: 84 4' N, 03 30' E. Temp. +4 centigrades, winds 4 knots from the west, overcast, useful visibility from 1000-1800 hours, otherwise white-out. Light snow fall 1300-1400 hours.

Another very quiet day with the ice drifting at c. 200 m/hour southwards moving over the center of the rift valley wall. Only a couple of small microearthquake events recorded.

No sign of animal life.

All is well.


September 2, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen and Gaute Hope

Position: 84 42' N, 03 24' E. Temp. +4 centigrades, winds 8 knots from the west, overcast and white-out. Light snow fall around noon.

A very quiet day with the ice drifting at c. 200 m/hour towards the rift valley. We are on the north slope about 4 km off the rift axis with the nearest instrument. Mother Earth has been quiet; only a couple of small microearthquake events recorded.

No sign of animal life.

All is well.


September 1, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen and Gaute Hope

Position: 84 42' N, 03 14' E. Temp. +4 centigrades, winds 5-15 knots from southwest, overcast and diffuse light with poor ground contrast until 1000 hours, then the sun broke through the clouds and good visibility until white-out conditions again in the early evening. Light rain in the early morning hours.

Picked up the last instrument and redeployed north of the rift axis, now in a triangle 5 km on the side. This will be our last deployment. Winds are from the southwest and ice drift is to the northeast and much to our favour, parallel to the rift axis. Recorded four small events in the afternoon. Earlier problems with unstable GPS reception by the seismic buoys have been cured by expert advice from Ole Meyer, GEO.

With the imposed decision to abandon pursuit of ODEN and our Lomonosov Ridge objectives, we have been without access to fuel for 4 weeks and one more to go. Usable fuel left is about 300 liters e.g., 15% of fuel capacity. Deck tanks have been turned upside down to recover all left-over diesel usable for heating.

No sign of animal life. Since seagulls can not be identified accurately, they may have become invisible.

All is well.


August 31, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen and Gaute Hope

Position: 84 40' N, 03 38' E. Temp. +2 centigrades, wind 10 knots from south, overcast and diffuse light with poor ground contrast until noon, complete white-out in the evening. Rain between 1700 and 2200 hours.

Winds from the south drove the ice over 2 nautical miles to the northwest during the day. We decided to move the instruments, in spite of white-out conditions, but had to give up on the last instrument and wait it out for the rest of the day. The rainfall in the evening turned the white snow surface into a more bluish water saturated appearance.

No sign of animal life. We have been reprimanded for imprecise reporting on seagulls, and accept the charge.

All is well.


August 30, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen and Gaute Hope

Position: 84 39' N, 04 26' E. Temp. +4 centigrades, wind 4 knots from southeast, ground fog in the morning, shunshine at noon and overcast and white-out in the evening.

The ice drift was very slow all day; mostly 200 m/ hour or less and in a direction along the ridge. We recorded a dozen very nice events including the Jan Mayen earthquake.

This day was special; we saw the sun for the first time in a week! Have had to work on the assumption it should be there. We keep a 24 hour watch on the visibility. For the last 10 days, the total number of hours with sufficient visibility for driving has been 22 hours, i.e. less than 10% of the total time - so seeing the sun makes a difference.

All is well.


August 29, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen and Gaute Hope

Position: 84 40' N, 04 08' E, Gakkel Rift Valley - non-magmatic zone and no earthquakes recorded at teleseismic distances. Temp. +3 Centigrades, wind 15 knots from the southwest, overcast and white-out until 1900 hours.

We have moved parallel to the rift valley with the center of the instrument array about 2 km away from the rift valley floor. About half a dozen microearthquakes recorded. By following our earlier tracks, we started an inspection of the seismic buoys in spite of the white-out, but had to postpone visiting the last one.

No sign of any animal life today.

All is well.


August 28, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen and Gaute Hope

Position: 84 37' N, 03 25' E, Gakkel Rift Valley - non-magmatic zone and no earthquakes recorded at teleseismic distances. Temp. +4 Centigrades, wind 10 knots from the westnorthwest, overcast and white-out all day, light snow between 1600 and 2000 hours

The ice drift made a surprising U-turn in the early morning and takes us back towards the rift valley, now 3.5 km away. For this reason, we have postponed the planned relocation. The recorded seismic activity over the last 24 hours includes up to 10 events with signal to noise ratios 30-40 and about 30 smaller events.

Gaute has started looking more closely at the data from our first 9 day deployment in a zone which is characterized by seismic activity recorded at teleseismic distances. Our total harvest here was several hundred potentially useful seismic events.

No sign of any animal life the past days.

All is well.


August 27, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen and Gaute Hope

Position: 84 37' N, 03 25' E, Gakkel Rift Valley - non-magmatic zone and no earthquakes recorded at teleseismic distances. Temp. +4 Centigrades, wind 10 knots from the westnorthwest, overcast and white-out all day, light snow between 1600 and 2000 hours.

The ice drift made a surprising U-turn in the early morning and takes us back towards the rift valley, now 3.5 km away. For this reason, we have postponed the planned relocation. The recorded seismic activity over the last 24 hours includes up to 10 events with signal to noise ratios 30-40 and about 30 smaller events.

Gaute has started looking more closely at the data from our first 9 day deployment in a zone which is characterized by seismic activity recorded at teleseismic distances. Our total harvest here was several hundred potentially useful seismic events.

No sign of any animal life the past days.

All is well.


August 27, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen and Gaute Hope

Position: 84 37' N, 03 56' E, Gakkel Rift Valley - non-magmatic zone. Temp. +9 Centigrades, wind 5 knots from the southwest, overcast and white-out all day.

We are drifting straight south at 200 m/hour about 6 km south of the rift axis.

Mother Earth is alive and well; we have recorded four large local events (signal/noise ratios 100-200) and about twenty smaller events (signal/noise ratios 5-10) during the last 24 hours. Most of them within the ridge segment characterized by no teleseismic events. Will move upstream as soon as visibility improves.

All is well.


August 26, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen and Gaute Hope

Position: 84 40' N, 03 58' E, Gakkel Rift Valley - non-magmatic zone. Temp. +8 Centigrades, wind 6 knots from the southwest, overcast all day and white-out on and off, light rain first 1/3 of the day.

Plus eight degrees and rain at the end of August at 85 N! The ice drift has slowly turned south and we are heading out of the rift axis after moving 15 km in a straight line within it. Only one earthquake recorded during the last 24 hours. If this new course continues, we may pick up the instruments tomorrow evening and move them upstream for another round of seismic monitoring.

No sign of animal life for the last two days. Before that an occasional sea gull sighted daily.

All is well.


August 25, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen and Gaute Hope

Position: 84 44' N, 4 15' E, Gakkel Rift Valley - non-magmatic zone. Temp. +6 Centigrades, wind 6 knots from the west, overcast and white-out on and off all day.

Drifting on an ideal course right down the rift axis - could not do better even if we had the ability direct the ice drift. Recorded four well defined local events and their associated water multiples within the first 24 hour in this zone where no teleseismic events have ever been detected. This is indeed very promising!

Since there is no detected volcanism and this is the deepest part of the rift axis, crustal extension must be dominated by faulting and stretching of the lithosphere.

It will take another 2 days to traverse the deepest section along the rift valley provided the ice drift direction and drift rate (400 m/hour) does not change.

All is well.


August 24, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen and Gaute Hope

Position: 84 47' N, 4 51' E, Gakkel Rift Valley - non-magmatic zone. Temp. +4 Centigrades, wind 8 knots from the northeast, white-out during the night and marginal visibility during the day.

Deployed buoys and broad-band seismometer in the non-magmatic and non-teleseismic zone of the Gakkel Rift Valley. Array geometry is a triangle with sides 2.8 km. We are drifting right along the rift axis at 400 m/hour. For the next couple of days it is listen and wait!

All is well.


August 23, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen and Gaute Hope

Position: 84 44' N, 06 11' E. Temp. +2 Centigrades, winds from NE at 21 knots in the early morning coming down to 15 knots in the evening, white-out until noon, and finally good visibility in the afternoon.

The weather finally improved after three full days of strong winds and solid white-out conditions. We recovered the fourth seismic buoy, and set out for a new deployment, but light conditions deteriorated. We are 6 nautical miles from the deepest part of the Arctic Ocean, where the water depth is about 5400 meter. The area is under extension, but no teleseismic earthquakes are recorded from here. There is no volcanism since mantle rocks (peridotites) are the dominant rock type at the sea bed in this part of the Gakkel Rift Valley. We will deploy our instruments here to check the seismicity after having established that no study has ever targeted this type of setting before.

All is well.


August 22, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen and Gaute Hope

Position: 84 46' N, 07 51' E. Temp. +2 Centigrades, winds 16-24 knots from NE, low clouds, white-out.

Gale force winds most of the day and white-out conditions. We have to remain parked in situations like this and wait it out. Ice drift was up to 0.6 knots due west, i.e. towards northeast-Greenland, and still parallel to the rift valley. The last seismic buoy is still not recovered.

All is well.


August 21, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen and Gaute Hope

Position: 84 50' N, 09 13' E. Temp. +2 Centigrades, wind 16 knots from NNE, low clouds, white-out, occasional snow.

A full 24 hours with not sufficient light contrast for driving. No significant change in wind direction so this may last a while. At this wind speed, the wind mill produces up to 0.4 kW and save us fuel to charge batteries. Luckily, we a are drifting parallel to the rift valley only 20 km off axis. The last seismic buoy is still not recovered.

All is well.


August 20, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen and Gaute Hope

Position: 84 56' N, 10 24' E. Temp. +2 Centigrades, wind 18 knots from the N with blowing snow, about an hour of usable visibility in the morning, but white-out the rest of the day. Gale force winds (>22 knots) for a brief period in the afternoon.

Tried to recover the last seismic buoy this morning, but was stopped about 0.7 nautical miles away from it by deteriorating light conditions for safe driving.

This is our first encounter with strong winds on this trip. There are at least two ways to look at it; The positive thing is that the windmill finally show off and produce far more energy (up to 0.5 kW) that we need, but the downside is the ice drift. We are moving southwest and away from Gakkel Ridge at 0.5-0.6 knots which is 20-25 km/day. Diesel is needed to get north again into the target area to redeploy the instruments. In ODEN's absence, we have to endure 5 weeks without access to more diesel. We have about 500 liters left and 2/3 of this is needed for heating and charging batteries during the time remaining. If the present weather situation last for one more day, we may have to face another priority decision; more science or no heat in the cabin? Guess what Nansen would have done?

In the Arctic, there is never a dull moment!

All is well.


August 19, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen and Gaute Hope

Position: 84 59' N, 10 58' E. Over southern flank of Gakkel Rift Valley Temp. 5 Centigrades, wind 6 knots from the west, white-out until afternoon, but by 2000 hours sunshine from a partly clouded sky until midnight and then back to white-out.

Woke up at 0500 hours by the alarm from the motion detector where the food was buried in a small ridge - we had a bear visitor. To our surprise, he did not touch the food. Started the engine and he showed us his behind, but stayed at 100 m distance the rest of the day.

We are now 15 km south of the rift valley and decided to recover the seismic buoys and the broadband seismometer and move upstream. We picked up 3 out of 4 before the light conditions turned to white-out and no terrain contrast by midnight.

This deployment lasted for 9 days and the drift path mainly followed the rift valley as hoped for. About 30 well defined microearthquake events and maybe hundred smaller ones have been recorded. We are both very pleased with how Gaute's self designed and self built instruments have worked.

All is well.


August 18, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen and Gaute Hope

Position: 85 03' N, 10 23' E. Temp. +4 Centigrades, wind 10 knots from SW, white-out for most of the last 24 hours and light rain in the evening.

We are now over the top of the southern wall of the rift valley and received a burst of seismic activity in the early morning, small events about twenty. Today, wind from the south is forcing the ice cover to move north and east at about 400 meter pr. hour.

Gakkel Ridge - a bit of history

Nansen had to established by direct depth soundings that at least a part of the Arctic Ocean was a deep ocean basin. With new theoretical insight into the information potential of waves propagating through the Earth's crust developed after Word War II, seismologists of today can tell whether the so-called Arctic Ocean is an ocean basin or hides a land mass from analysis of seismic surface waves that have travelled across the area from maybe Japan and recorded on a seismograph in his office; literally, this information comes to him for free.

Several of the large submarine structures in the Arctic Ocean were discovered by inferences before there were actual depth measurements to document their existence. This was also the case for the mid-ocean ridge, now officially named the Gakkel Ridge after Jakov Jakolevic Gakkel, a Russian geologist at the Arctic Research Institute in Leningrad, who worked extensively on Arctic Ocean geology using the new geoscientific data harvested by the Russian drifting ice stations and aircraft landings on the ice during the 1950-ies and onwards. The existence of a linear trend of scattered earthquakes in the polar basin north of Svalbard was known, but first put into a larger context in

1961 in a paper by two American scientists, B. Heezen and M. Ewing. They had discovered a mid-ocean ridge system in many of the world oceans and postulated that the earthquakes documented an extension of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge into the Arctic Ocean. The first continuous bathymetric measurements across the ridge were obtained by the US nuclear submarines Nautilus and Skate in August 1958 and published by R.

Dietz and G.Shumway in 1961, and the morphology was highlighted in a paper by L. Johnson in 1967. A break-through occurred in 2001 with the Arctic Mid- Ocean Ridge Expedition by icebreakers Polarstern and Healy where the ridge topography was mapped by modern swath bathymetry.

The paper by Heezen and Ewing of 1961 postulating a mid-ocean ridge and a widening ocean north of Svalbard had obvious implications. It inspired the Canadian geologist J. Tuzo Wilson to postulate in a paper in NATURE in 1963 that the Lomonosov Ridge which has the dimensions of the European Alps and is now a submarine mountain chain beyond the North Pole, had once been the continental margin north of Svalbard. Supporting evidence for this has later come from seismic data collected by the German icebreaker Polarstern in 1991 and scientific drilling in 2001.

Further pursuit of this implication was the primary scientific objective of FRAM-2012, and the search for evidence on how nature works will continue.

All is well.


August 17, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen and Gaute Hope

Position: 85° 02' N, 09° 57' E. Temp. +8° Centigrades, wind 5 knots from NE, low clouds, white-out.

We are climbing over the southern rift valley wall. The change in water depth is 1 km over a distance of about 3 km, so the incline compares to taking the funicular up to Fløien in Bergen (27° degree slope). We have received signals from a few well defined events, but the number of small events detected, have diminished since we are drifting out of the rift valley. We will continue 1-2 days more and redeploy upstream.

It should be sub-zero temperatures by no, judging from our experience from the last four seasons operating further south on Yermak Plateau

(8°1-82° N). You may have noticed from previous reports the generally warm conditions we experience at 85° N. Today it is +8° C and the snow is melting. ODEN is recording -4° Centigrades at 88° N. We had counted on nature as our cold reservoir to preserve perishable food, but this assumption is not holding up. The result is that we have been forced to start discarding some items intended for dinner. There is however, no need to be concerned as we have good "drytec" food to last well beyond the arrival of ODEN.

"You never win them all."

All is well.


August 16, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen and Gaute Hope

Position: 85° 05.6'N, 10° 13' E. Gakkel Rift Valley Temp. +5° Centigrades, wind 10 knots from NW, low clouds, fair visibility, but diffuse light which gives low contrast.

Several small seismic events recorded.

All is well.


August 15, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen and Gaute Hope

Position: 85° 10.4' N, 10° 15' E, Gakkel Rift Valley Temp. +5° Centigrades, calm , ground fog with poor visibility, but clear sky above. After noon, 10-14 knots wind, partly clouded, good visibility.

Significant seismic activity, recorded several small events per hour.

All is well.


August 15, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen and Gaute Hope

Position: 85° 10.4' N, 10° 21.4' Ø. Temp. + 7° Centigrades, calm, groundfog, but clear sky above, in the evening partly clouded and good visibility.

We are in the middle of the rift valley drifting to the south at 200-300 meters pr. hour. We record several earthquake events per hour. Melt ponds started freezing up several days ago.

All is well.


August 14, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen and Gaute Hope

Position: 85° 12.9' N, 10° 27' E. Temp. +7° Centigrades, calm, broken clouds, good visibility. In the afternoon, ground fog, above is a clear sky, wind 10 knots from SW.

We are over the Gakkel Rift Valley floor, water depth 4700 m. Several smaller earthquake events recorded.

All is well.


August 13, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen and Gaute Hope

Position: 85° 14' N, 10° 25' Ø Temp. +10° Centigrades, wind 5 knots from N, low clouds and poor visibility until early afternoon, in the evening sunshine from a cloud free sky.

We are drifting at 200 m/hour on the lower northern slope of the Gakkel Rift Valley, water depth 4600 m. Recorded few small events and one relatively large.

All is well.


August 12, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen and Gaute Hope

Position: 85° 17.8' N, 10° 50' E. Temp. +8° Centigrades, calm, partly clouded and light snow.

We are drifting about 100 meter/hour due south and oblique to the rift valley. A few events recorded by the buoys and the seismometer. Put EM-sensor for ice thickness recodring back in place after the boom accidentally broke loose and the instrument fell into a melt pond - seems to work OK.

No signs of animal life for the last few days.

All is well.


August 11, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen and Gaute Hope

Position: 85° 19' N, 11° 14' E. Temp. +8° Centigrades, wind 6 knots from the E, low clouds with the sun breaking through at times.

Still drifting parallel to the rift valley at 0.2 knots. A few small seismic events and one larger recorded. Carried out repair on the EM-instrument, but still problems.

All is well.

 


August 10, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen and Gaute Hope

Position: 85° 18.9' N, 10° 57' E. Temp. +10° Centigrades, calm, ground fog, but above the sun is shining from a cloud free sky from noon time on.

For the moment we are drifting over the crestal mountain parallel to the rift valley at a speed of over 0.2 knots or 10 km/day under no-wind conditions. We recorded one particularly beautiful earthquake event at 1600 hours, but otherwise the 12-hour activity appears low. It is expected that the apparent activity will increase once we get into the rift valley because of closer range and the effect of topography. Current water depth is 3500 meter, the rift valley floor is at 5100 meter and 9 km away. Ambient noise level is very low.

All is well.


August 9, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen and Gaute Hope

Position: 85° 23'N 11° 30' E. Temp. + 6° Centigrades, wind 6 knots from SW, ground fog.

Variable ground fog from midnight until 1800 hours, only able to move for periods up to one hour. After 1800 hours, the fog lifted and we had sun from a clear sky. Arrived at north flank of the Gakkel Rift Valley and successfully deployed four seismic buoys in a 3 km triangle. The hovercraft is in the middle of the triangle. The seismic network is up and going.

All is well.


August 8, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen and Gaute Hope

Position: 85° 02' N, 12° 41' E. Temp. +6° Centigrades, wind 7 knots from SW, low clouds. Periods (1-2 hours) of useful visibility during the night and until noon, otherwise white-out with light snow shower.

Light conditions are by far our biggest challenge. For the last 3 days, we have seen only 2-4 hours per day with usable visibility or light contrast for driving. Pushed our luck in poor light conditions this morning and ran up on a ridge - took six hours to get off. We are currently trying to get in position for deployment of the seismic array.

All is well.


August 7, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen and Gaute Hope

Position: 85° 00' N, 12° 35' E. Temp. +4° Centigrades, Wind 8 knots from SE, low clouds, ground fog.

We are still in the rubble field of ice blocks and the visibility before lunch was not good enough to make an educated guess about how to get out. At 1400 hours the fog lifted and we moved about 6 nautical miles east and appear to be out over better ice. After an hour and a half the fog closed in again and the joy ride ended. During a weak moment we were doing 14 knots over level ice, came into melt pond topography, the craft yawed violently and the front mounted boom with the ice thickness sensor broke off and fell into a melt pond. We are drying out the instrument, fixing broken wires and hope it will work again.

Now around midnight, we can see a clear sky above us, but the ground fog makes driving impossible. Our intent is to move north of the Gakkel Rift Valley about 20 nautical miles upstream and deploy the seismic array.

Had a visit by a polar bear this evening, he/she sniffed at a couple of the boxes on deck and went away.

All is well.


August 6, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen and Gaute Hope

Position: 84° 59' N, 11° 29' E. Crestal mountain on southern flank of Gakkel Ridge. Temp. +3° Centigrades, wind 10 knots from W, rain all afternoon, overcast and "white-out."

Limited visibility and low light contrast of surface features prevented continued search for a way out of or around the field of ice rubble surrounding us. Areas like this are passable by an icebreaker, but not by a hovercraft.

Coordination with ODEN imposes strict time constraints on FRAM-2012, and we have now made the experience that on the average, we are not able to keep up with the northward advance of an icebreaker. We are limited by minimum visibility requirements, fields of ice rubble and not around the clock driving. All this has led to a situation where ODEN is about 100 nautical miles ahead of us at the time of today's planned rendevouz for fuel transfer for the final leg to Lomonosov Ridge. This being the case, further pursuit of the original plan would require icebreaker support time for FRAM-2012 far beyond the stipulation quoted in the written cooperative agreement between the LOMROG-2012 and FRAM-2012 expeditions at the expence of Danish UNCLOS work. Therefore, we had to make the hard decision that FRAM-2012 remain on the Gakkel Ridge and pursue the planned microearthquake monitoring experiment using new seismic technology until ODEN is southbound in early mid-September.

All we can say is, we are climbing the learning curve challenging the Arctic Ocean, but sometimes it requires more endurance and money than originally anticipated. The positive fact to date is that the hovercraft made it almost to 85 N on its own fuel and completed ice thickness measurements all the way. The Arctic Ocean is four times the size of the Mediterranean Sea and we should not be afraid of trying out alternative ways of acquiring new knowledge of the polar environment.

All is well.


August 5, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen and Gaute Hope

Position: 85° 03' N, 11° 06' E. Southern flank of Gakkel Rift Valley. Temp. + 8° Centigrades, no wind, partly clouded, the sun breaking through at times, good visibility except fog all afternoon until midnight.

This has been a tough day. Stopped last night at the edge of a large field of broken-up ice, 1-2 m thick. Today, we have spent all the time, permitted by sufficient visibility (10 hours) to move east and west to search for a pathway in a northerly direction with no luck. We have only been able to proceed 3 miles to the north relative to last nights position.

ODEN is at 86° 44' N 02 E.

The melt season is over and freezing has started.

All is well.


August 4, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen and Gaute Hope

Position 85° 00' N, 11° 30' E. Temp. +8° Centigrades, wind 4 knot s from SSW. Visibility 400 m in ground fog, clear in the afternoon.

Made only 4 nm. northwards before lunch in very broken up ice where there is no room to maneuver - ODEN probably breezes through things like this. Driving conditions improved after lunch and we covered 36 nm. Ice thickness measurements working fine, doing calibration with drilling from time to time.

ODEN is advancing fast and is already about one degree of latitude ahead of us. Our next challenge is to reach ODEN's position before they are fininshed with their seismic line in order to get more fuel.

All is well.


August 3, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen and Gaute Hope

Position: 84° 26' N, 13° 30' E. Temp. + 3° C, wind 14 knots, later 7 knots from SW, visibility 300-400 m improving later in the day.

At about 1150 hours, the Orion plane came out of the fog at 50 m altitude and delivered the two alternators less than 200 meters from the hovercraft, a superb job. ODEN arrived at 1330 hours. We refueled (2000 liter diesel), got a shower, were generously treated with dinner and had a short discussion about the way ahead. ODEN and the hovercraft departed at 1930 hours. ODEN moves more steadily and generally faster than the hovercraft and the next rendevouz point is 160 nautical miles ahead.

All is well.


August 2, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen and Gaute Hope

Position: 84° 24' N, 13° 07'E. Temp. +10° Centigrades, calm, fog, visibility 200-500 m.

Drifting passively parked on the ice, earthquake monitoring by seismic buoy and seismometer. Maintanance on the craft while awaiting air drop of replacement alternator tomorrow.

All is well.


August 1, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen and Gaute Hope

Position: 84° 25' N, 13° 07' E. Temp. + 8° Centigrades, no wind, clear sky!

A day with the most beautiful weather on the trip so far. We are drifting with the ice, recording with one buoy and seismometer awaiting arrival of new generator. Units identical to the damaged generator are located by dealer in Oslo and will be air dropped by Orion flying out of Andøya on Friday. Carried out maintenance on the craft. ODEN is expected to be at 81° 30' N, 15° E by this evening.

Spotted an ice gull circling.

All is well.


July 31, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen and Gaute Hope

The hovercraft approaches the Norbjorn freighter.Position: 84° 30' N, 13° 00' E. Temp. +6° Centigrades, wind 8 knots from NW, low clouds and marginal terrain contrast for driving.

Drifted 5 nautical miles due south during the last twelve hours. Have remained parked all day because all remaining fuel will be needed to move into position to meet ODEN.

Gaute Hope deployed one of the seismic buoys and a broad-band seismometer on the ice. The buoy is a prototype stand-alone seismic recording system for Arctic Ocean geophysical exploration and several units are integrated into an array using a wireless local area network solution. The system is designed and built by Gaute Hope as part of his Master's thesis. The first earthquake was recorded after a few minutes. The seismometer is for comparison of the respective relative signal to noise ratios of a buoy with a hydrophone in the water and a seismometer on the ice surface.

ODEN left Longyearbyen. All FRAM-2012 equipment items reported onboard. The Norwegian Academy for Polar Research has approached the 333 Air Squadron and expressed the need for an air drop of spare parts for FRAM-2012. The flight will be executed by an Orion airplane at the earliest convenience.

FRAM-2012 was on the air in a live news cast on TV2 at 0930 hours this morning.

No sign of animal life today.

All is well.


July 30, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen and Gaute Hope

Position: 84° 37' N, 13° 00' E.

A grey day with temp. + 8° Celsius, wind 10-12 knots from SW, light rain and white-out. Insufficient visibility for driving. Parked and difting with the ice surface at 0.4 knots, course 180 degrees. Have drifted four nautical miles south over the last 24 hours. Have arranged for shipment of spare parts (alternator and charge splitter) to reach ODEN before departure tomorrow, Tuesday. Will spend the remaining fuel to move in position for upcoming rendevouz with ODEN.

Saw a seagull and a seal. All is well.


July 29, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen and Gaute Hope

Position: 84° 40' N, 13° E. Temp. +8° C, calm, fog all day.

Not sufficient visibility for driving today. When parking last night we became aware of an electrical problem as the alternator had stopped charging and today we found that the charge splitter where the output from the dynamo is split to charge our two sets of batteries, also had been fried, The cause of all this is presently unknown. New parts may reach ODEN before leaving Longyearbyen Tuesday, if not charge from our windmill is a backup. "Never a dull moment in the Arctic."

No signs of animal life today. All is well.


July 28, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen and Gaute Hope

Position 84° 40' N, 12° 00 E. Temp. +6°C, no wind, clear sky, just beautiful.

We are in a vast area of old ice, broken up ice in all directions. Climbed the roof to scan the horizon with binoculars to look for openings. The best option was to move south again. At 0200 hours we got stuck on a ridge across a small meltpond, we were going too cautiously and did not have enough momentum to ride over as expected. The craft got a 30° degree list with the skirt about one meter above the surface. It took 14 hours of hard work to build a barricade of ice blocks around the skirt to trap the air, cut away ice under the hull, regain the lift and move off. Downloaded today's cloud free satellite image, but the quality is not good enough to provide any information about possible extent of this area of old ice.

After three hours of sleep, we started moving northeast and made about three miles before the visibility again deteriorated and we parked for the night. No sign of animal life except for one seagull. All is well.


July 27, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen and Gaute Hope

Position: 84° 40' N, 12° 00' E. Temp. +8°C, no wind.

The weather today was what you would like the Arctic Ocean to be; a magic morning fog that the sun not quite could get through and after noontime it cleared and lit the pure white snow and ice surface to return millions of reflections from the snow crystals.

We are in a massive area of old ice 3-4+ meter thick, insignificant thinner ice between and no open leads. Found our way out and had good driving conditions over level old ice for about 20 nautical miles before we hit a new very broken up region where we have not yet spotted a way out. This thick ice encountered between 84° 20' and 84° 40' N along 12° East should be avoided by ODEN - we do not know its east-west extent.

The EM sensor for ice thickness is working as we cannibalised the power pack of one Argos buoy to remedy our battery problem.

All is well.


July 26, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen and Gaute Hope

Position: 84° 20' N, 11° 30' E. Temp. +6°C, wind 8 kts from NNE. Rain in the evening.

First day in a week with reasonable visibility, saw the sun for a short while around noon. Ice conditions reasonably good for driving in the early part of the day. Had an unfortunate incident where we slid with the rear end into a block of ice and tore the skirt from bottom up all the way to the deck. Repair work took six hours. Came into very messy old ice (also not negotiable for a diesel driven icebreaker) in the afternoon and had to turn back . Will continue westwards tomorrow to find a way around.

We have problems with power to the EM instrument for ice thickness measurements so there will be a data gap between 84° N and 85° N on the northbound journey. This will be remedied when we meet ODEN at 85° N.


July 25, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen and Gaute Hope

Current position 84° N, 12° E. Temp. +3°, wind 10 kts from NE, rain in the afternoon, poor visibiity, but improved slightly and allowed us to drive between 10 and 17 hours.

Ice thickness 1.5 - 2 meter and in some cases 4-6 meter. Meltpools are abundant. Sighted one seagull. Have parked and are waiting for improved terrain contrast.


July 21, 2012 - Yngve Kristoffersen and Gaute Hope (with help from Google Translate)

Good day to those in the south. We have stayed at 83° north, 15° east after running Friday in bright sunshine in a cloudless sky and no wind. The ice between 82° and 83° is the same thickness (1 to 1.5 m), but significantly more than between 81° and 82°. So the day was more challenging with pressure ridges everywhere at times. Had to make detours a few times - these things must also icebreakers do, so it is part of the process. Got stuck twice - it is also part of the process.

When we try to cross borders or barriers that are just too big, the skirt loses contact with the ground, the air cushion forsvnner and the boat loses lift. The result is a sudden stop if we do not have sufficient torque movement. Then we just build a small wall of ice and snow so that skirt gets in touch again and we are back in business. Such things are routine, and after an hour we started again.

The boat is otherwise impressive and manages well, just as we thought it would do and then some.

We have become over a ton lighter because of the fuel consumed, and it is easier to overcome difficult obstacles. Now we have approximately 1400 liters of diesel left and it's a little more than half of what we started out with. We are half way, so it will be exciting if this holds, depending on ice conditions. Gakkel Ridge with his jordskjelvsktivitet is where it is and basically was that Gaute's target was the maximum for what we could do with their own fuel. If we do not dare anything, we win nothing.

If we do not reach the target of 85° N 11° E, there is no other than that we have to wait two weeks and Gaute ODEN uses buoys to make the first 3D seismic survey ever done in the Arctic Ocean.

From early in the morning there are mists that persist until the middle of the day. Right now we are waiting for the fog to disappear so it will be sufficient visibility. Otherwise all is well.


July 21, 2012 - Dr. John Hall

Latest news at 1300 GMT today (Saturday) was that they were halfway to their target of 85°N, with less than half the fuel used (~1 ton). They were waiting for the morning fog to burn off. They encountered an aggressive bear yesterday. C-cell batteries needed for the EM-31 ice thickness probe, and are being posted to Oden. Ice thickness steady at just over 1 m, with many pressure ridges. Otherwise weather is fine, with bright sunlight and temperatures up to 9° C.