September 15, 2015

View from the top

On the morning of September 5th, the USCGC Healy and the U.S. GEOTRACES Arctic Expedition reached 90°N, making this the fourth visit to the North Pole for the Coast Guard, and the first visit for many of us on board.

Small party on the bow after reaching 90°N.
Nearly everyone on board was awake for our arrival to the pole. Some of us went to watch the GPS hit 90°N in the computer labs, while others went to the bow to be the first to reach the highest latitude. After celebrating our arrival, we put a rosette in the water and began sampling the northernmost water masses on the planet (see About the Arctic Ocean).

A beautiful North Pole view before going bed.
We were about to begin heading south, but we decided to stay a minute longer to meet up briefly with our German colleagues. Once we finished our water column sampling on the 6th, we moved to where the ice was thick enough to get out on and sample from (photo from previous/first ice station), and also to take a brief “ice liberty” and formally celebrate our North Pole arrival by taking a proper group photo.

Group photo taken by Cory (far right) on the 7th. Fen is in front to the left of Greg (in yellow), I am two to the right of Greg, to the left of Jim (bright yellow on navy) and Ryan is in red under the “U.”
Setting up a station for sampling water directly under the ice using pumps. Coast Guard always has people on polar bear watch (right) while we are out on the ice (even though spotting a bear at the pole is unlikely).
We were about to begin heading south, but we decided to stay a minute longer to meet up briefly with our German colleagues.

The German icebreak Polarstern (German GEOTRACES Arctic Expedition) approaching the Healy at the North Pole.
It has been an exciting long weekend for us! I hope you have a great short week down south!

—AA

P.S. — I just posted the first Q&A under Ask a Question, so be sure to check that out!