Jeremy Young, UCL, Wednesday, 27 June 2012
While we’ve been keeping you informed of late about how the ship works and what we are doing on the cruise we have been a bit remiss with the day by day news, so time for a brief update. After leaving Svalbard we went south west into the Barents Sea for a few days then worked back east into the Norwegian Sea and across it. Just now we have passed to the north of Jan Mayen, the volcan we passed on the way north , so we have crossed our track and are currently heading slowly south toward Iceland.
The Barents Sea proved much less fearsome than its reputation – I was expecting something savagely cold – in fact it was rather pleasantly calm and felt almost warm after the Greenland ice margin and Svalbard.
To be fair though there was not a lot to see so we have tended to stay inside. As Brandy reported we started the last bioassay on Sunday and we will be closing it down tomorrow so we definitely winding down. In some ways we started the bioassay too soon as at the time we were in a stretch of water with little beyond copepods which whilst pretty (see Vicky’s blog post) were not really what we wanted. Since then, however, we have been going through some more lovely coccolithophore blooms, so we are quite cheerful and there will be plenty to keep us busy over the last four science days of the cruise.
An anniversary – entering the Barents Sea brought the world war two Arctic Convoys to mind and a check on dates revealed that the disastrously ill-fated convoy PQ-17 left Reykjavik for Murmansk on 28th June 1942, i.e. exactly 70 years ago. A week later two-thirds of the convoy was sunk, after it was ordered to scatter in light of a possible threat of attack from heavy warships in Norway. The few sources I have been able to look at don’t say much about the weather but if the kind of flat calm we have been passing through are typical conditions then it would have been about the worst possible place for a merchant ship to try and escape attack.