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Ice Navigation RV Mirai Arctic Deployment 2013 #22

The southerly winds over the last few days drove what ice there was south of the polar pack well clear of our last two most northerly stations.  The Chief Scientist and the Captain were both quite happy, it allowed for stress free occupation of the two stations, one of which required position keeping for almost seven hours.  Ice in the vicinity would have added extra challenge that neither really wanted.  Many of the crew were disappointed, hoping as they were for one last chance to be amongst the ice and possibly see a polar bear.

Ice Navigation RV Mirai Arctic Deployment #21

The two weeks of observations and data collection at the Fixed Point centred on 72º45’N 168º15’W were completed today, 25 September.  The researchers onboard are very happy with the results.  During our stay in this area several cyclone centres have passed directly over our position, ensuring the Senior Met Officer’s project was more than successful.  With the  dozens of CTD rosette, plankton net hauls and other casts a fascinating in depth sequence of changes has been noted.  Shigeto Nishino’s group have been very excited with the results.  A number of theories on sea water distribution of the Pacific and East Siberian surface water may have been confirmed if not at least provided with more supporting evidence.  Other new theories have been postulated. 

Ice Navigation RV Mirai Arctic Deployment 2013 #20

Passage planning in the Arctic often has that added dimension, ice. Like any routine passage plan, the navigator begins with a strategic overview, where are you coming from where are you going, how do you get there.   With the basic navigational data in hand, charts, sailing directions, meteorological and current data, the navigationally safe waters are determined.  The Ice Navigator then factors in small scale/large area ice charts indicating current and forecast coverage to determine how ice conditions may affect the plan, taking into consideration what ice conditions a vessel of this ice class can safely operate in. Even the best daily ice analysis charts and forecasts are not foolproof.

Ice Navigation RV Mirai Arctic Deployment #19

Not surprisingly, the National Ice Centre released news this past weekend that prompted the flurry of media hype immediately after. It was something that this Ice Navigator has already noted in his daily briefings onboard, that the Arctic ice reached its annual minimum on Friday the 13th, a week ago. But still, in our area of operation the ice has remained resolutely further south than in previous years, making original plans for passage and research unachievable.

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