Expedition 2019 Diaries

Day 16. Arctic and Transarctic

Day 16. Arctic and Transarctic

Fedor Tuzov is an engineer in Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute and a postgraduate student of Moscow State University. It is his third Arctic Floating University expedition. He twice sailed on Professor Molchanov in 2014 when he was a student.

Fedor decided to become an oceanologist in order to study the environment, lead ocean structure studies, both theoretical and full-scale, in the expeditions. By his 24, he has been in eight expeditions: in average, an expedition per year. Besides the Arctic seas, he has sailed from Sri-Lanka to Kaliningrad and crossed the Atlantic Ocean. He celebrated New Year 2016 sailing along the Suez Channel.

- I had no days off in that expedition. December 31 was an ordinary day, so there was no great New Year celebration, and on January 1, I started collecting meteorological data.

- What is most difficult in an expedition?

- Concentration and understanding in the research team. You need the follow the instructions and avoid conflicts, find compromise.

Fedor was lucky to have such expedition leaders who always managed to respect the expedition plan and meet the deadlines.

- Arctic Floating University is not monotonous: there are a lot of events and not just routine work. – says Fedor. He remembers of another expedition on a transect near the British coast. 40 days of 53 were workdays, he had to wake up in time and follow his shifts. Collecting samples is quite a monotonous work. Sometimes they collected data every forty minutes, or once a day, there were also days with no sampling. It is very hard to find an occupation and not to feel bored. His advice is to spend time with colleagues and watch films together.

- You need to pretend that you have a day off, then you can come back to work. Somebody told me in one of the previous expeditions on Professor Molchanov: Either you like it from the first time and want to return, or you don’t like, then it is not worth returning.

Fedor knows well that in any expedition you finally get tired. But in half a year you feel like going on an expedition again. He is also happy not to suffer from rolling.

- To whom wouldn’t you advice to go on an expedition?

- It is a difficult question. Perhaps to those who are used to living in the city, to comfortable conditions.

- What do you have to sacrifice for the sake of expeditions?

- I have to spend less time with my family. For example, I was in the Transarctic expedition on Academic Treshnikov icebreaker from the middle of March to the end of May. Three weeks later, I left for Arkhangelsk to take part in the Arctic Floating University. And I am not sure that it is my last expedition this year.

Transarctic comprises several stages:

  1. Drift on Akademic Treshnikov icebreaker to the northwest of Franz Joseph Land;
  2. Expedition on Mikhail Somov icebreaker;
  3. Expedition on Professor Molchanov from July 16 to August 2;
  4. Three month passage from Vladivostok to Murmansk and back on Professor Multanovsky.

On the first stage, Fedor was responsible for the same oceanographic research as in our expedition: he worked with rosetta and CTD equipment for the evaluation of water salinity, temperature and density. Akademic Treshnikov drifted in the ice for one month.

- In the morning, a helicopter brought us far to the north where we could study thick ice. There was also an ice camp around the icebreaker. In that expedition, it did not seem that each day was like another because the tasks were different. We had to travel by helicopter and snow-going vehicles, and there were technical tasks like providing electricity in the camp.

Ice drift of an icebreaker is when it stops in an ice floe and is brought by the wind together with it. Transarctic had two program designs: either two months of drift frozen in a floe or, if the floe breaks, the second month was to be devoted to sea research.

- The floe broke after a month of drifting. So, we had to spend all night and early morning collecting the research equipment in the camp. We had to be lifted on the deck by hoist because the trap could no longer be used as the floe had broken away from the vessel.

The expeditions permit to collect data for Fedor’s PhD thesis: “Shelf convection (cascading) in the Arctic seas”. Convection is the process of colder or saline surface water going to the bottom. There is little research on this topic because the process is hard to observe: you need to collect data in the north seas in spring.

What is Sea for me? It is the model that helps understand the scale of our planet. When you sail across the sea you can understand how big or small the Earth is for you. We have the same speed as a bicycle, so we can understand how much time it takes to go from one point to another, from Europe to Canada. It does not take much time. Distances only seem to be long.

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Updated 26.08.2019