journal de bord

29/10/2007

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On skis by night on pack ice

On skis by night on pack ice
 
The weather was very nice last Sunday. In polar language, this means currently no wind, a visibility greater than 200 meters, and a clear night. As the weather is mild and Sunday is our day off, why not take a stroll on the pack ice?
In polar language, taking a stroll on the pack ice can take different meanings: to carry a frontal lamp and perhaps a back pack. One must add to this equipment a warm ski suit and gloves with thermal warmers. Polar shoes a bit like the old boots of deep sea divers. And do not forget the most important thing, the skis.
 
We own five pair of cross country skis. A part of these skis look like normal mountain skis. The other part is covered with a narrow non-slip strip, so one can climb over ice humps facing them. The sticks are useful especially for Tiksi, the dog who can jump and bite on them!
 
Once the five volunteers have been designated, one has to go down in the shop to adjust the skis. Go fetch a Phillips screw driver. Climb back on the deck. Take the skis off the rack. Attempt to adjust them.
 
Once we are on the skis, we head towards a lead: a recent split in the ice with a recent stretch of sea. Then one notices a hummock a 100 meters from the boat! Hummock means “pressure ridge” and designates huge ice blocks. Indeed the ice sheets that shape the pack ice, pushed by the wind and sea currents of the Arctic Ocean meet and bind together with the cold like a huge puzzle. Under the pack ice, this sea breaths and is in perpetual movement. When the Ocean movements are amplified, that the temperature increases, that the wind blows, then the pack ice opens up and the ice sheets meet once again creating friction, and overlapping the lift up pieces of ice that can be five meters high.
During the Nansen Fram period, 115 years ago, these ridges could reach up to 10 meters high.
 

Tara 2006-2007

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