I’m off to the Arctic on Germany research vessel Polarstern.
I will be collecting samples to determine the export of dissolved black carbon from the Arctic to the Atlantic Ocean. The cruise will transect Fram Strait, the major gateway for the exchange of water and dissolved material between the two ocean basins. Today we will leave Bremerhaven in Germany, site of the Alfred Wegener Institute which houses the R/V Polarstern.
In a few days we will reach Svalbard and begin a transect from there towards Greenland following 78.5 degrees north. During this transect we will first cross the West Spitsbergen Current (WSC) which carries warm Atlantic waters north into the Arctic Ocean. This is the northernmost extent of the Gulf Stream that originates in the Gulf of Mexico and travels past Georgia and Savannah at the edge of the Georgia shelf.
We will then transit west towards Greenland, breaking ice as we go. In this part of the cruise we will collect water samples from the East Greenland Current (EGC). This carries cold, polar water south into the Atlantic Ocean. A figure of the currents is shown at http://www.whoi.edu/science/PO/people/pwinsor/project_ao02.html.
My work will look at the amount and type of dissolved organic carbon that these two massive currents carry north (WSC) and south (EGC). Our progress can be followed in real time at http://www.awi.de/en/infrastructure/ships/polarstern/where_is_polarstern/. This site will also post weekly updates about life and science aboard R/V Polarstern.
The cruise will end in Longyearbyen on Svalbard where I will collect some samples to continue ongoing investigations into the sources and nature of glacier carbon (http://www.skio.usg.edu/?p=research/chem/biogeochem/glaciers).