Toby's favorite camp chore

by Toby Thorleifsson

Hello, this is Toby calling in from the ice. We are now about midway in the big Nansen Sound and we are camping directly tonight on the sea ice. And I thought in this blog that I would talk a little bit about the sea ice as we’ve spent so much time on up here.

The sea ice very roughly can be divided up in two types: there is yearly ice, that is ice from the winter that we’re in, and then there is the multiyear ice, that is ice that can be anywhere from about 2 years old to up to 6, 7, or maybe 8 years old. A lot of the ice that we’ve traveled on so far on this trip has been year ice, that’s ice from this year, and in the fjords and sounds of Ellesmere displayed almost flat like the ice on a lake in the interior in the winter. The multiyear ice, it’s a lot thicker and it’s also a bit wavy. And it has sort of like small valleys that are remnants of meltdowns from the year before.

Now when we’re on the sea ice, obviously we also need to drink and we usually have two options to get water: one is to collect snow that is in drifts on the ice, and the other is to find old sea ice where we can chop up the top layer and melt this ice. And it is beautiful, it’s full of air and it’s a very effective way for us to get water. One of the big changes on the polar ocean and in the Arctic over the last 20 years is that the multiyear ice, this old generational sea ice, has been very, very much reduced. So about from 1980 until today, about two-thirds of this old ice has disappeared, with obvious consequences.

Old ice

We are now on our way to Axel Heiberg Island, that’s a Norwegian island. And we look very much forward to a national day that we’re going to celebrate on May 17th. I’m sure you’ll hear much more about that. On a smaller note, John’s beard is getting longer even than it was the last time I did a blog. We’re all still very happy about that and impressed about the progress on that front. OK, that’s all from ice today. I look forward to calling again. OK, bye.

Daily Expedition Data
Date: 5/15/13, Day 46
Location: 81°10'N, 91°49'W
Traveled: 5.6 hours, 11.3 miles
Temperatures: 4°F am, 16°F pm