Expedition Diaries 2017

July 26. Day 19

July 26. Day 19

I am tired and I want to come back home, though the living conditions onboard during the expedition were perfect. The sea was smooth, there was almost no strong wind. I am always lucky with weather conditions in the Arctic. Today is the reporting day. Each scientific group was preparing a presentation about what kind of research they had been conducting for three weeks period, what were the results and what they are going to do next. 

Of clouds and angels

Biological research group from NArFU was taking samples for different contaminants. Yesterday they got 12 cods, 3 bird eggs and these samples will be studied for contamination, how they are accumulating in the food chain in which human is the last element. In Nikita Sobolev’s presentation polar bear was also a part of food chain, though nowadays people don’t eat them anymore (we cannot say the same about polar bears, they would eat human with pleasure). I have heard somewhere that human meat is not wholesome for such an animal. The fattiest man has less fat in it that the skinniest seal does. So, it’s good the ways of polar bear and a human rarely cross each other.

About the results of this research group: the samples were described and shown to us, further work will be carried out on the mainland.

Meteorological group had been studying the influence of cloud cover on the amounts of solar radiation the Earth gets in the Arctic region and how it all influences the global warming. The estimation will be done in the end of the research. We all noticed one thing – the weather in the Arctic changes quickly, at once.

The biggest scientific group in our expedition is hydrological one. Its members had been working in several directions.

Measurements were made during 46 (47 including one near Solovki islands) hydrological stations. Main work was carried out during transects Russkaya Gavan’ Bay – Cape Flora and Salma Island – Cape Zhelaniia. These two transects were also studied for the last several years during previous expeditions by the research groups from the University of Arctic and Antarctic. Circulation and dynamics of different branches of Atlantic water masses were studied in the north-eastern part of the Barents Sea.

- According to the results we will be able to clarify the scheme of water circulation, - said Anna Vesman. – We are very glad about these results.

Anya looked truly satisfied, though there had been a lot of problems (especially with weather) during the research.

 - We looked through the first results, made charts of temperature and salinity distribution and within our transects. The whole picture, roughly speaking, replicates the results of previous expeditions, we found the core of Atlantic water masses distribution within two transects with the highest temperatures and salinity. Later we are going to make an analysis directly in our Institute, compare our results with the previous ones, single out water masses which are present there. We’ll be working on it till September until we can say some exact results.

It’s also connected to an issue whether Atlantic water masses influence the condition of the Arctic ocean, its ice conditions, or not.

Together with the employees of the Russian Arctic National park one of the hydrological groups was taking samples for zooplankton. Firstly, there was zoning of the water mass, temperature and salinity analysis, thermocline location. After this the net was thrown to the thermocline’s depth, and then to the seabed.

Together with the zooplankton samples they got many interesting marine creatures, my favorite one is angelfish, a scary but at the same time sweet creature.

Angelfish lives in Arctic seas and really reminds of angel: fragile, transparent with wings. It is as wonderful as bloodthirsty. They eat sea devils.

Angelfish is a mollusk, a predatory organism. The time of eating one sea devil varies from 2 to 45 minutes. They can live without food for a long time (up to several months).

The body of angelfish is almost transparent, the length is 2-2,5 cm (sometimes the biggest ones can be even up to 5 cm), and of a torpedo-like shape. They are themselves the food for whales and birds.

Angelfish are very popular in Japan (not as food). They are the most seen species in the Arctic sector of Osaka oceanarium for example. Angelfish are prototypes for many anime, manga, Pokémon characters.

Birds and many other things

Ornithologists had a happy moment – during the expedition they saw an albatross while crossing the space between Cape Flora and Hooker Island (closer to the latter). Of course, it was Ingo Weiss who noticed it first. Those who were there at that time say that the reaction of Ingo was as he at least had made a final decisive goal in the world football championship match. His reaction was justified: meeting such an albatross on FJL is unbelievable luck (I can compare it with the situation when Russian football team goes to the quarter-final of the football world cup). Primary colonies of these birds are situated on Auckland Islands. Irina Pokrovskaya said that in recent times this albatross was seen near Scotland together with gannet (so-called albatross’ companion). We saw this bird either.

The ornithological group also highlighted polar tern and white gull. It seems they particularly liked these kinds of birds.

Arctic terns are very characteristic peculiarity of Cape Zelanija. Their nests can be anywhere. Therefor we must carefully look under feet and manage to dive a dodge to the angry bird. One of the employees of the National Park said that he worked in a helmet during construction of the water pipe as the terns attacked without warning. Terns are champions in the duration of migration. This bird hibernates in the Antarctic, spends the summer in the Arctic and flies up to 80 thousand kilometer per year. During her life she flies several distances from Earth to the Moon.

The white gull, which Nansen called the ghost of the Arctic, is also its symbol and like a polar bear it never leaves the Arctic even in winter. Plumage is really completely white and young birds have dark specks. White gull is associated with ice throughout the whole life. It occurs mainly on islands with glaciers or surrounded by Arctic waters. Often accompanies polar bears feeding on the remains of their prey. In the middle of 2000s Canadians suddenly sounded the alarm when they saw that the number of white gulls on their territory had drastically decreased. It turned out that the birds for some reason moved to the Russian Arctic. In general, the population of the white gull remained the same but in a small number. According to the latest calculations, the number of white gulls on the planet is comparable to the number of polar bears - about 12-13 thousand pairs. For birds - it's not enough, one seagull for one polar bear.

In total a group of ornithologists have seen 29 500 thousand birds of 21 species of 78 hours of observation. And there are 12 species of marine animals. The crown of all is a narwhal. Sometimes it seems to me that Ingo got the lens to the Canadian archipelago ...

The soil group has not only found the northernmost endoliths in Eurasia but it also confirmed that it is required to make changes in the landscape-zonal picture of the Arctic. Further I quote: If the low-arctic and mid-arctic tundra (traditionally southern, typical and Arctic tundra) are indeed sublatitudinal natural zones, then the high Arctic part north of 75 degrees north latitude is a mosaic set of soil cover types, little associated with Latitude, and more dependent on local conditions (location in relation to glaciers and prevailing winds, edaphic (soil) conditions, localization of bird markets). Such regularities by analogy with the soil cover of Antarctica can be called a "mosaic-island" geographic location of soil-plant complexes. The zone itself should be called a high-Arctic tundra as there are tundra complexes and areas of wastelands with a very sparse soil-vegetation cover but with species Plants and soil processes characteristic of a humid climate and not for deserts.

A desert is empty and dry. it is definitely not suitable for Franz Josef Land description. Tundra soils were found on four of five surveyed islands at the Franz Josef Land archipelago except Alger Island.

Sergei Goryachkin suggested a version that at time when the zones in the Arctic were defined and named (50 or more years ago) there really were for the most part deserts almost without vegetation. But the climate change that has taken place has led to the fact that the situation has changed. It is interesting to compare current observations and results with those that were made in the middle of the last century preferably in the same places as well as to communicate with researchers who are still alive and watch their photos and sketches. There are islands at the Franz Josef Land archipelago where observations were conducted more or less regularly: Hooker, Heiss, Alexandra Land.

 Geologists said they made almost everything they had planned. They collected 125 samples for paleomagnetic analysis and 7 samples to determine the age of the rocks. To determine the age bigger samples are needed. I wonder how many stages of magmatism there were in this small area?

As Dmitry Metelkin says that it will be possible to see the scientific result only when the collection is processed.

- We have some model which this year it will be necessary to try to verify or supplement with the necessary material of those parts that are currently the most controversial. There are two following moments. Firstly, the age and possibility of several stages of magmatism within this territory (FJL) remains insufficiently well-founded. It was considered that magmatism occurred here at one stage and now some data appeared that in several stages they have been fragmented in time. That`s why it is necessary to select the rocks to determine the absolute age. Almost everywhere, where we assume the possibility of the appearance of manifestations of ancient magmatism, we removed the samples, with the possible exception of the Alexandra Land, where we could not get to where we needed to.

Photos, video and the first boat on Solovki

The first boat to Solovki is the prize to the winner of the photo contest. The group of geologists won - they have 3 or 4 nominations out of eight. It was suggested to make photos on the following topics: Discovering the Arctic, Warmhearted Arctic, The Arctic Mirror, Time Frost, I-cecream, Arctic Animal Love, We are Polyarniki. Truly speaking, one nomination I have forgotten. Everyone voted choosing one photo from the nomination.

But the photo contest was late at night.

The projects were presented by the humanitarian block: the history of Russia in the Arctic. Thanks to Sylvain Amos I was curious to learn that a significant push for the study and advancement of Russia in the Arctic was the Russian-Japanese War.

Jasmin Gut received interesting observations: a mixture of Soviet and modern in the Arctic including visually. And one more thing: what used to be garbage has become a historical monument. I'll add from myself: it all depends on how to treat this. If the person who makes the decision thinks something is garbage he will let it go under the knife or press.

There was a suggestion to share their impressions about the flight in groups on Facebook and Vkontakte.

The tossing has started. The White Sea is small but insidious, just like a sea angel.

July 26. Day 19
July 26. Day 19
July 26. Day 19
July 26. Day 19

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Updated 12.07.2017