Our regular reader(s) may recall our extensive coverage of the Swedish icebreaker Oden’s visit to the North Pole (AKA Santa’s secret summer swimming pool) in 2016?
We are now able to report that Oden has been back at the North Pole once again, this time somewhat earlier in the season:
There’s not as much open water to be seen this year, although Oden’s visit is a week earlier than in 2016 so that may not be too surprising? What is perhaps surprising is that this year visiting the Pole wasn’t part of Oden’s plan! According to British physicist and oceanographer (and BBC TV star!) Helen Czerski:
We weren't really aiming for the pole, just to find a good ice floe as far north as possible. But we haven't found an ice floe yet and it looks as though I'll wake up tomorrow morning at the North Pole. Hello to the top of the world! #ArcticOcean2018 pic.twitter.com/fDPnua4V6N
— Helen Czerski (@helenczerski) August 11, 2018
Here’s Helen and friends pictured at the North Pole:
That was a couple of days ago, since when the sea ice floe Oden is attached to has drifted in the direction of the Atlantic Ocean:
We have asked Helen whether she is willing and able to provide our readers with an update on here recent experiences on the Oden:
Hi @helenczerski. We met at @UniofExeter many moons ago, if you recall?@GreatWhiteCon and I were wondering if you would like to pen a guest article for "her" #Arctic #SeaIce blog?https://t.co/6RjRWlPjLM pic.twitter.com/30mOvXXH6t
— Jim Hunt (@jim_hunt) August 16, 2018
We’ll let you know her reply as and when we receive it!
17 thoughts on “Oden Reaches the North Pole All Too Easily Once Again”
So do we know from this ship how thick the ice is around the pole? I look at the DMI chart vs Hycom and I’m utterly confused… 3m or 0.5m
(There’s a small Swedish icebreaker in the historic ships berth in Stockholm harbor you can get on board of, if you are ever out that way!)
According to Helen the ice the Oden is currently attached to is one metre thick:
BTW – any idea what has happened to Bremen sea ice chart??
No idea at this juncture I’m afraid. The main IUP domain is working OK.
On the other hand the seaice subdomain is not!
Welcome back Jim!
(not that you went anywhere in particular)
I’ve merely been extremely busy working for Her Majesty. Or her so called Government at least:
Hopefully a noble cause?
So far that’s the way it looks. Thanks for being an integral part of something good happening in the UK.
Obviously you missed (it is in Swedish..) the captain’s report about this year’s route going half speed relative to 2016 due to the highest ice thickness, compaction and concentration (90-100%) he has experienced since 2005 along the same stretch. The thickness of some tilted ice photographed looks roughly 4 m. http://www.sjofartsverket.se/pages/111200/Veckobrev%20fr%C3%A5n%20Isbrytaren%20Oden%202018-08-09.pdf
It would have been a big surprise if things hadn’t taken longer than 2016. Slightly later in the season, but there was lots of open water in the vicinity of the North Pole that year:
This year is rather different, but the Oden isn’t 50 Let Pobedy! She’s not really designed for expeditions to the Pole. According to the Swedish Maritime Administration her maximum ice breaking capability is 1.9 m level ice at 3 knots.
According to Helen Czerski on August 8th:
1.5 metre ice is enough to slow Oden down considerably, but isn’t thick by historical Central Arctic standards. If my Google Translated understanding of the original Swedish is correct they had a lot of difficulty plotting the best course because their helicopter was grounded due to the fog for much of the time?
Right, he doesn’t want to get stuck so relies on helicopter, at times at least not permitted by weather.
Only then I wouldn’t put it they didn’t aim at the pole, that’s all more about just final positioning once roughly there.
I’m relying on Helen again, rather than Mattias.
She said they only ended up 5 miles from the pole because they couldn’t find a suitable floe on which to set up their 5 week research camp any earlier. Oden is now attached to a floe 1 metre thick.
Another blog post by Helen Czerski has been published over at Cosmic Shambles:
It seems Helen has been kept very busy because her lead of great interest still hasn’t frozen over:
The undated photo of the ship surrounded by ice in her 25Aug blog post shows many blue melt ponds in addition to open leads. If it was taken in the last week it’s a stunning image of the exceptional warmth near the pole this August.
Clearly, this ship had to be very careful to avoid compression ridges and areas where one floe had been thrust over another. In today’s Arctic compression can produce extremely thick and dangerous pile ups of ice. The thicker multi-year ice of the decades before the new millenium did not produce compression features as extreme as today’s thinner ice.
If this is the image you’re thinking of the metadata says August 14th:
The thicker multi-year ice of the decades before the new millenium did not produce compression features as extreme as today’s thinner ice.
I disagree, you should read Comdr. Calvert’s description on the polar ice in the late 50s:
Aug 1958 “I look around the lake. It’s small-too small for complete surfacing. It is surrounded by pressure ridges formed when the giant ice floes press together.”
Later at Ice Station Alpha,
His engineer reported: “Captain, there’s something funny going on with the ice, in the last hour or two a hummock 15 ft or so high has appeared.”
The lake they were in was shrinking and they had to submerge.
The following spring when the Skate surfaced at the pole Calvert said:
“Both sides of the lead were piled with the heaviest and ruggedest hummocks I had yet seen in the Arctic.”
Here’s another view of somewhere near the North Pole from on high, plus a few furry friends:
Another aerial view of Helen Czerski’s open lead from her latest blog post at CosmicShambles, taken on August 23rd: