Nansen’s Memorial lecture

This is probably the first – and last – time I give a lecture in a long dress and high heels! Every year, on Fritjof Nansen’s birthday, the Norwegian Science Academy invites its members (and a few others) to “Nansen’s memorial lecture”. The title of this year’s lecture was “From cold to warm – Norwegian Oceanographic Research in the Weddell Sea” – and the presenter was me!

When preparing for the talk I learnt a lot about the first Antarctic research expeditions and the history of oceanography in Bergen, and I had the pleasure to have Arne Foldvik tell me his stories from the “old days” down south – I’ll try to share some of those with you here later, but first some photos from the festive evening in Oslo!

What melts first – ice in fresh water or ice in salt water? Most of the professors guessed wrong – if you don’t know the answer, then read earlier blogpost! (Photo: Det Norske Videnskaps-Akademi/Thomas B. Eckhoff)
Explaining the origin of Antarctic Bottom Water to the Norwegian Science Academy in Oslo. Fritjof Nansen is the man on the painting just behind me! (Photo: Det Norske Videnskaps-Akademi/Thomas B. Eckhoff)
Everyone giving the Nansen memorial lecture gets the Nansen Medal. I’m the 55th lecturer to receive one – but only the forth woman. (Photo: Det Norske Videnskaps-Akademi/Thomas B. Eckhoff)

The presentation was followed by a very fancy dinner!

Arne Foldvik telling stories about expensive Champagne on long Antarctic cruises
Peter M. Haugan giving the “thank-you-for-the-meal-speach”.

 

Passion for Ocean 2019

I wonder if the cashier reacted to my somewhat strange shopping list last Saturday morning: 1 kg of salt, three kilos of ice and a bottle of food coloring. Had he asked, I’d gladly have told him that I was on my way to “Passion for ocean”, a festival showing off everything that Bergen has to offer that’s related to the ocean; food, music, fishes, starfish, aquariums, organizations, activities, kayaks, boats – and off course research and science!

Nadine and I joined up with Ingunn Skelvan and students from GFI in the Bjerknes Centre tent to set up our demonstrations – it was quite a challenge in the strong wind!

 

Ingunn showed to anyone interested how blowing (CO2) into seawater lowers the pH (which causes the pH-indicator in the water to change color). When the pH in the ocean decreases it is more difficult for organisms in the water to build their shells.

What balloon will explode first when hold over an open flame? The one filled with water or the one filled with air?

Since the heat capacity of water is much higher than that of air, the water balloon will not get nearly as warm as the air balloon (and hence not explode). That’s also why the water in the lake doesn’t heat up as quickly as the air when the sun is out – and why the majority of the heat that the earth is accumulating due to our emissions of CO2 is stored in the ocean.

 

Nadine had a more difficult question for the visitors: If you put an ice cube in a glass of sea water and one in a glass of sea water – which one will melt first? Do you know? You can try at home – or visit  Mirjam’s blog to find  out!

Icebergs for children – and everyone else!

I stumbled over this masterpiece on twitter and I thought I’d share it with you: a book for children explaining the origin and fate of an Antarctic iceberg! Illustraed by amazing pieces of art, nicely told, scientifically correct and on top of all freely available at https://joidesresolution.org/activities/iceberg-of-antarctica-book/ !

The author/artist Marlo Gansworthy joined a Polarstern cruise to the iceberg alley a few years back – and now we can all enjoy the result! Download and be amazed together with your children (or on your own!) . You can read her blog from the expedition and find more of her art here!

 

Antarctic podcast in the making!

What’s the role of Antarctica in the global climate system? Why is the ice melting? Where did you go? – and why? What ship where you on? What did you eat for breakfast?

There were many questions,(and hopefully just as many answers) when Nadine and I was invited by Ellen and Ingjald to “Media City Bergen” where we were to make a podcast about life and science onboard an icebreaker in Antarctica. The studio turned out to be the smallest room (without a toilet) that I’d ever been into – but we managed to squeeze in all four of us!

The program will be ready after the summer so stay tuned! And meanwhile, you can listen to previous podcasts from the Bjerknes centre (in Norwegian only for now) and learn about why climate scientists collect pollen (Anne Bjune) to how we can use ocean temperatures to predict cod abundance in Norwegian water (Marius Årthun) – and much more!

Podcast in the making! Photo: Ellen Viste

 

Ellen Viste preparing to question us about everything from deep water to formation to what you eat for breakfast on a Korean ice breaker. Photo: E. Darelius

Changing plans…

Sea ice – beatuful to look at, but difficult to make plans With…

My phone rang twice yesterday – the first time it was Anna Wåhlin, who had just sat her feet on land again in Punta Arenas, Chile after two months in the Amundsen Sea With Ran.
The second time it was a local, Bergen number and I was very surprised to hear Nadine’s voice on the line! It still amazes me, that (when things work) you can talk to someone on a ship in Antarctica and it sounds as if they are in the room next door…
She had bad news, there were too much ice, the captain couldn’t go nearly as far south as we had hoped for to deploy Our moorings and we have to move them further north to deeper water. 1500m instead of 800m. Where should we add the extra line? Should we rearrange the instruments? We discussed a bit and agreed on a solution.

When I woke up this morning there were five missed calls from the same Bergen number – and there was soon a new call from Nadine.
– More bad news. The captain couldn’t make it even to 1500m, they were now about to deploy the NPI mooring at 2000 m. What should we do with ours? No point in going deeper, we don’t have more lines to add and many of the instruments can’t be deployed that deep. Deploy it on Maud Rise? Move instruments over to the NPI mooring and bring the rest home? Bring them all home? Not an easy decision!

DIY drifters!

Drifters on their way to be deployed

While Nadine is wathing icebergs drift by in the Southern Ocean, I brought the students in GEOF232 back to Masfjorden, a fjord just North of Bergen.  No icebergs to be seen there (luckily), and the only thing we saw drift by was Our own DIY drifters that we had deployed in the fjord!

A drifter is simply an Object that drifts With the Ocean currents and then on a regular basis reports its position back. Now, you can pay a lot and buy a fancy drifter… or you can build Your own (almost as fancy). That’s what Our handy technician Helge Bryhni did! All you need is some paint trays, a bucket, flotation, some rope and chain – and one of these devices that you are supposed to put on your (expensive) car so that you can find it again if it gets stolen. To be on the safe side, Helge opted for a radar reflector and a water proof container.

Video by Algot Peterson, UiB

The students got to decide where and how to deploy our four drifters – spread out or together? in pairs with different depths*? near a river outlet? on rising tides or sinking tides? – and once they were in the water they could sit back and follow the drift on their mobile phone!

*by adjusting the length of the rope we could Place the bulky plastic part of the drifter on the Depth we wanted, and the drifter would then follow (and show us) the water motion at that Depth.