On the water

Being on the water is always very enjoyable for me and today was no different despite wearing a heavy orange survival suit. This astronaut looking suit is essential if anyone is to fall into the freezing waters of the fjord.

It is equipped with safety gadgets to enable boats to easily detect you and its design allows you to maintain on the waters’ surface completely buoyant without losing heat at the rate you might have if you were not wearing it. This is very important if you find yourself swimming in the currently almost freezing 0.5° C water. However the fact that you wear several layers of thermal clothes under the suit doesn’t mean that it is warm on the small zodiac boat. The wind chill factor decreases the air temperature or at least what the body feels dramatically and the suit does not cover the face or your hands. Special gloves need to be worn when working on the boats as you always get wet when working at sea no matter how calm it is. So today was a practice day for me, and the rest of the scientists that will be going on a daily bases to the mesocosm bags. It was a practice to learn how to deploy the integrated water samplers inside the already closed bags and also for me personally a practice in driving the little zodiac. I haven’t driven such a boat in nearly seven years and felt a bit rusty at first. However I quickly remembered the basics due to the help of the much more experienced drivers that were present with me: Jean-Pierre Gattuso and Lucie Bittner.

Once I felt comfortable with the drive, I even managed to enjoy the 10 minute long drive and the view that consisted of crystal clear waters and frozen mountains on both sides of the fjord. I will never forget this first drive in this frozen kingdom of beauty.

 Today was easy but I wonder how it will be if it gets windy and if we start getting iceberg pieces through which we will have to make our way. We estimate that it will take us at least two to three hours to get our samples from the mesocosm back to the laboratory, and this is only an estimate as there are often unpredictable problems that can suddenly appear.  Then we will have to start our filtration, something that will take four more hours.

Finally the filtered samples will need to be stored in temperature as low as -80° C and all the equipment that we have used will have to be cleaned and prepared for the following day. So there are long days ahead of us but hopefully the tiredness will be worth it because we all love what we do as scientists. There is one thing that is more important than sleep and warmth at the moment for all of us: to start the experiment and get good reliable results for this extremely important other CO2 problem named ocean acidification.

Jozef

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