21 September 2018

Pancakes for breakfast

and polar bears on the side

For the past two days we’ve been moving the ship back and forth between packets of multiyear ice that has lingered in this area all summer and filaments of newly formed grease ice. When the surface of the ocean gets cold enough, a thin layer of ice forms and creates what looks like an oily slick, a shimmering blanket that pulses with the swell and grows in fingers grasping for more water to freeze.

As the ice thickens, it begins to consolidate into small pieces. With a good swell that bumps them together, the pieces converge into larger rounded forms called pancakes. Jim Thomson described this process in one of our first science meetings on the cruise and last night he predicted we’d have pancakes by morning. Sure enough, come breakfast, there they were!

We spent the morning chasing down and recovering Jim’s SWIFT buoys that had begun to get themselves trapped in the ice.

Fortuitously for us, one of the SWIFTs had traveled near a large ice floe with three furry inhabitants. It was one of the most spectacular sights I’ve ever seen. Moments like this one make me feel so incredibly lucky that I get to do what I do.