15 September 2018

An icy Arctic sunrise

... but there's heat lingering below

The skies finally cleared today. Blues and oranges and fluffy whites replaced the usual shades of gray. But with the wind, the morning was bitter cold. It was a four pants day for me: base layer, Carhartts, bibs, Mustang suit. Neck gaiter pulled up to my ears and my puffy jacket hood cinched tight around my knit hat. You can’t tell, but I’m smiling underneath all those layers. It really was a spectacular sunrise over an ocean littered with living room sized chunks of sea ice.

Photo credit: San Nguyen

That warm water we’ve been seeing beneath the surface just keeps getting closer. Yesterday we drove over a massive plume of water with temperatures exceeding 7°C just 10 m below the surface and we’ve been following it all day trying to see what happens at its edge. The winds were blowing strong all day but the warm water stayed stuck beneath a thin turbulent layer of cold fresh water. The ocean here is so stratified by salinity that the surface waters just seem to slide over what lies beneath with out disturbing it - a huge reservoir of heat.