Gerit, my cabinmate, has a great research programme that makes her highly popular onboard. Every day, she flies for two to three hours with the helicopter, sitting at the back, looking at her instrument readings and taking pictures of melt ponds. To balance the helicopter, she needs a volunteer to sit at the front during her flights. Twenty four hours after the end of the CTD madness, she asked me to be that volunteer.

First, I refused. Although I said it was because Sara may need me during the flight time for a CTD cast, in reality the idea of being high in the sky in an unstable tiny glass bubble was not my thing. But then I looked outside: perfect weather! And I needed an actual break, not one where as you start relaxing someone calls you asking for something. So I womaned up and took off!

The leads in the sea ice, as seen from the helicopter. Picture: Céline Heuzé

The first few seconds of the flight, I just had fun feeling how the helicopter behaved. By the way, I immediately loved it! Then I looked outside and saw the sea ice in a completely new way. The leads look like the meanders of a river. The ridges draw clear lines, scars of past collisions.

Melt pond (pale blue, bottom left), crack (centre) and ridges. Picture: Céline Heuzé

And the melt ponds! Gerit is a bit disappointed; there are not that many ponds. Still way more than I had seen from the air before! No animal either, despite Gerit choosing this particular flight path so that I could get a better view (just a few days before, Ulrich had seen some belugas when flying with her). What we saw however was the installation of the ice station, scientists getting onto the sea ice and starting work there. But that will be the topic of the next post…

The ice station begins. Picture: Céline Heuzé


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