August 28, 2019, the Ryder expedition.
Lincon Sea, Canada or Greenland or in between. We saw a polynya and we managed to get there during the night. A new area, new mapping, new station program, new coring sites, piston coring, gravity coring, and multi coring. Then we have the water work: CTD, CTD, CTD, net, net, net.
We claimed we are the first one here. Not true! More and more we realize that that´s not true. Who was here before us? Kilroy was here – no we did not find that old tag. We found a Sirius patrol hut that was used a few years ago, Adam the helicopter hero pilot, found a message from the 70’s and an expedition up here. Who were they? We tried to Google – but no connection. When you do not have an Internet connection you do not exist. Who was here before us? Sirius patrol: recently, scientific expeditions: in the 70’s, mineral exploration: in the 50’s and 60’s. When they did all the airstrips: in the 40’s and 50’s, land surveyors mapping: early 1900, earlier expeditions: hunters, and so on until 4 000 years ago. Hard to claim we are the first. Perhaps rather the last? Just heard that might not be true either. An aircraft probably dropped equipment at the glacial fronts of Victoria, Ryder and Stensby fjord just after we left. So not the first and not the last. But the first to enter the Ryder fjord by ship. That narrows the scope of us being the first a bit.
Everything changes rapidly
We flew here yesterday on an ice reconnaissance flight. We saw the big polynya. Today it’s gone. Disappeared! Gone! We planned for open water research. No disturbing ice but the wind shifted a little, reduced a little and the ice rapidly took lost surface back. That’s how it is. Everything here changes rapidly. Weather changes, ice changes conditions changes, ideas and plans changes. Flexibility is a must. A constant struggle between plans and flexibility. Can we fly today? Will there be fog? Where is Oden going to be? Where do the land teams going to go? Do we have station onboard? Do we use cranes? Then we cannot fly. Too far out over open water, we do not fly. Bad weather no flight. Today we ticked no in all “stop” boxes and we flew.
Are images lost in space?
Today we invade Nyboe Land. The Sea-level team, the Land team, and the Driftwood team have become a mixed unit. The challenge is to find out who is working with whom today. Nobody works alone, always in pairs or more. Not too far away. Always in VHF contact. Be back before dinner. Always a flight briefing before take-off. Where to, in which helicopter, radio, weapons etc. You can´t just fly away. And we have an ATC. Air Traffic Controller. We have AIS in the helicopter. Autonomous Identification system. A little radio thing transmitting positions all the time so we can see them on data screens and ships navigation systems. But it is radio. And when they go behind the mountains, we lose radio contact. Then we have Iridium.
Iridium, a system of orbiting satellites. Iridium makes it possible to phone and do e-mails. Phone works differently from at home. The person in the other end sound funny and the connection can suddenly break. E-mails we do a lot. 72 persons onboard and 1 000 e-mails a day. When is the time? 1000 e-mails would take me at least 72 days to write. But we can only do small e-mails. All attempts with images sent home are brutally caught by the filter. Nobody knows what happen to a caught e-mail. Is it to find somewhere or lost in space? How do we know it´s received or sent by the way? 20 years ago, e-mail was a non-issue. Then we had radiotelephone through coast radio stations and some kind of satellite telex if we were not too far away. Back then, it worked without e-mail. Today we have a small crisis on our hands if the e-mail stops for an hour or two. What’s happening? Are we out of contact without e-mail? Has anybody seen my e-mail?
Before, we were far away and had no access, we were alone. Today we are far away with some kind of access. There is a constant demand for reports, images, blogs and all the things you normally do by the computer at home. But not today! The next expedition may use new satellites and new technology and we will be even more at home in a normal life even though we are far away.
Text av: Ulf Hedman