Expedition Diaries 2016

June 20. Day 14

June 20. Day 14

Report session and tossing.

Ship engineering module.

“Professor Molchanov” average velocity is 10 knots, though today we managed to speed up to 11.5 knots. The favourable wind helps us. I can’t say that the waves are very high, but the tossing is strong, it is forbidden to go out to the deck.

The first report session was a challenge and looked more like a roller-coaster: you need to report your research results, answer the questions, take part in the discussion and not to fall down.

The tossing was growing gradually. Artem Brazhnikov and Valeriy Zabolotskikh – the ship engineering module representatives – talked about their study of vessel propulsive system exploitation peculiarities.

The vessel consumes 5.5 tons of fuel every day, or 64 grams per second. Its fuel supply is enough for 65 day-long autonomous navigation. To me it sounds striking. The vessel seems to be really small, for example, last year it was by Arkhangelsk quay next to the four-mast sailing-ship “Kruzenshtern” and looked tiny.

Valeriy and Artem measured the vibration and noise level in the engine-room. The engine-room is obviously the noisiest part of any vessel, the level of noise there is about 70 decibel which can be compared to a 12 gauge gunshot, but it is constant.

The module members will also measure the vibration and noise level in other vessel parts: in the cabins, the canteen, the bridge and will compare it to the sanitary standards.

The tossing got stronger: cultural landscapes.

The cultural landscapes module spoke about three of the five studied objects. To be more precise, of five stations: The Bely Nos, the Udelniy Cape (at Vaygach in the mine area) and the Dolgaya Bay (the north of Vaygach).

Those buildings which had been reached were photographed, measured and described. There are a lot of special features: all these places are rarely visited by researchers, and very often they lack time. It leads to the mismatch between the maps, descriptions and reality. For example, they were looking for a cemetery in the Dolgaya Bay, relying on one of the descriptions. The cemetery was found, but in a completely different place… It is important to study the objects in comparison with their previous conditions. For example, 30 years ago a school in the Dolgaya Bay was referred to as a building with walls, windows and a roof. Today they found three rows of logs. But some objects remain the same: a residential house looked like 6 piles of bricks (corresponding to the number of stoves) in 1986, and today it looks the same.

Study of abandoned buildings on the Arctic islands is one of the most dangerous tasks due to polar bears, of course.

The condition of almost all objects mentioned today is poor, and the question of their preservation must be solved. They are destroyed not by people, but by nature: some parts are grassing, some areas are turning into swamps, some buildings are destroyed by wind, precipitation and temperature fluctuations. There are not so many cultural objects in the Arctic, actually. They are monuments of a certain kind, though they don’t have an official status.

Things start moving.

Meteorology, hydrology, oceanology.

When Pavel Kolodkin started talking about the weather in the landing points, my camera started sliding along the table. I started thinking about the things in my cabin and decided that they were out of danger and I could continue listening.

We all understood that we were very lucky, as while we were going to the north, the weather was getting better and better. But “good” and “bad” aren’t appropriate terms for a scientific report session: at the Bely Nos Cape the air temperature was +5.1oC, the wind was 4.4 mps, in Russkaya Gavan’ the wind was 1.9 mps, and the air temperature was + 8.9oC. The minimum temperature was measured in Bugrino area and was +1.2 oC.

Alexey Sazonov explained how to measure water flow rate. Water flow rate is the amount of water flowing through the river cross section in unit time. There were two measurement means used – by a float and by a tracer dilution technique. In the latter case, a substance, for example, sodium chloride, is taken, its solution is poured into water and then the ratio of concentration decrease is measured.

In the framework of the hydrological research, water and snow samples were collected, their chemical composition was studied, and temperature and mineralization were measured.

Oceanologists worked at sea, for example, they took measurements at 27 stations in the bay near Varnek. In each visited bay they studied the ratio of water heat-up and demineralization. For such research it is very important to know if the studied bay is open or closed.

Climate change.

The climate change module is the most numerous, there are 9 participants in it and altogether they were delivering their report. This is also the most multinational module: Andre from Brazil explained in what way and why tundra is sensitive to climate change, even the smallest, Julia from Germany spoke about natural processes appearing in the result of warming, and Maria from Indonesia spoke about anthropogenic influence.

After graduating from school, Maria Novitasari applied for studying in a foreign university and didn’t expect to take part in the Arctic expedition. According to the rules, she wasn’t allowed to choose either a city or a university to study at. So Maria was to go to Arkhangelsk. She has finished the second year of studying at NArFU in the specialty “Ecology and natural resource management”. She liked the Arctic before the expedition, she was very eager to visit high latitude area and she isn’t disappointed. Has anyone from Djakarta been to the Novaya Zemlya before?

This group also had to learn a lot of things, especially the research methods, as some participants weren’t familiar with them.

There are some debatable issues: do mosses and lichens destroy or protect stones? What does more harm to vegetation – people riding quad bikes or flocks of geese? Probably these questions are not absolutely correct, but still…

Fix your things.

About insects and birds.

… when I came to the cabin, I saw that almost all my stuff was on the floor…

Alexander Anisimov was reporting for both modules. The NArFU student told how insects survive in the extreme conditions of the Arctic. As it turned out, they manage to successfully adapt. Then he spoke about birds.

Entomological sampling has taken place at the Zhelaniya Cape for the first time. Frankly speaking, summer has not come to the Novaya Zemlya yet, but there was enough sampling material. The majority of the insects are getting ready for the summer on the water basin shores.  

Andrey Przhiboro showed the equipment which he uses in his research in the beginning of the expedition. Do you remember yellow plates? Well, they didn’t work out. They were installed for not more than 4 hours, but for proper operation a day or two is needed. And there are not so many flying insects yet. However, the method itself is effective. The installed plate is not empty, there is shampoo solution in it. Insects can easily fly up from pure water, but they can’t escape from water with shampoo due to the decrease of superficial tension. Yellow plates can also be white or orange, corresponding to the flower colours.

The number of studied bird species both on land and water areas is 32. There are a lot of snow-buntings both in Arctic deserts and subarctic tundra.

As a result of bird watch on board guillemots are the most numerous. There is graph which has 4 peaks on it, which mean that at those moments there were lots of guillemots around “Molchanov”. Probably the vessel was passing close to the rookeries.

Dansing teacups and a challenge of standing still.

Geology. International cooperation.

During the geologists’ report all expedition members were catching teacups, usually full of tea. None of the cups was broken.

More than 80 samples at 8 stations have been collected for paleomagnetic research. Some of the samples were collected with the help of a hammer, some – with the drill. As for the Cambrian period, it has already been proved that the Novaya Zemlya used to be located in the tropics and that the rock was formed in the low latitudes, but there is still no precise data about the period dating back to 350-400 bln years ago.

When I was a child, I was shocked when I learned that the continents are moving and that the world used to be very different. I even went to the library to borrow some books and learn more about it.

Denis Avdeev took part in the work of at least three modules: he made a report about climate change, geology and… international cooperation.

The paw.

Irina Pokrovskaya spoke today about polar bears and scared everyone, not with the story, but with the polar bear paw which she found in Russkaya Gavan’ right by the settlement. The paw is giant, soft, fluffy and fatal.

Irina said that she was going to present her finding to the “Russian Arctic” National Park.

Entertainment on board!

The report session was followed by a quiz for all expedition participants. Everybody was a bit worried, as the head of the expedition personally took part in the quiz composition, that’s why some questions were connected with history. Though it was challenging, everybody enjoyed it, and not only the winning team.

Some more words about tossing.

I have said before that all Dmitry Kovalev’s predictions come true. He said that the tossing would stop by 9 pm. And it actually stopped.


June 20. Day 14
June 20. Day 14
June 20. Day 14
June 20. Day 14
June 20. Day 14
June 20. Day 14
June 20. Day 14
June 20. Day 14
June 20. Day 14

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Updated 20.06.2016