Today is Antarctica day!

Nadine just made me aware of this book on the Antarctic treaty  – written (by  J. H. Berkman & A. Pope) for children and illustrated by children from all over the world! It is available in different languages: Swedish, Norwegian, English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Japanese … and many more! Isn’t that the perfect way to celebrate Antarctica day?

You can download the pdf (or order a paper copy) here

Happy Antarctica day!

Nansen’s dead water explained on YouTube

Remember the experiment on Nansen’s observation of “dead water” that is part of GEOF213? Our movies of this experiment are now featured in a brilliant Youtube video by the german science communicator Doktor Wissenschaft! Check it out below! (It’s in German but we did include English subtitles)

How exciting that we can now share this experiment to a broad public, way beyond the audience that happens to find its way down into the basement! 🙂

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!

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

EastGRIPninja’s scientific adventures – a comic book about an expedition to Greenland!

Our friend and paleo climate researcher Petra Langebroek is currently on a scientific expedition to central Greenland, and she reports back using EastGRIPninja and his scientist friends to tell the story of how science is done on top of the ice sheet.

For example, EastGRIPninja gets a tour of the camp:

And that’s pretty cool — it’s not too often that I get a look into one of the domes! I don’t know what I expected to see inside, but definitely not this much plywood. And probably fewer flags, too. And (spoiler alert!) would you have guessed that they have a tabletop football game in there, too?

Also super interesting: How does going to the toilet work in the middle of the Greenland ice sheet? That’s something EastGRIPninja needs to find out fairly early on, too. So if you are curious, you should go and check it out!

Click on the image below to read the whole story (which is being updated pretty much daily!). EastGRIPninja, Petra and their team are still there until mid July and I can’t wait to learn more about their adventures!

Finally stepping on sea ice

Do you think it is possible to stand on an 18 cm thick sea ice floe without breaking through?

Just one week ago we almost got stuck with the ship in about 4 m thick sea ice further south. We couldn’t move south and not back north neither. This was scary and we already imagined how it would be to spend the whole Antarctic winter in the sea ice. As soon as the captain managed to break the ship free, he headed straight north to get out of the sea ice covered area. Although it was good to get into a safer area, we were disappointed that we didn’t get to do all the science we wanted to do closer to the ice shelves. And the most disappointing was that we didn’t get the opportunity to leave the ship and go on sea ice!

But suddenly before leaving the sea ice area for good we stopped for a sea ice station, because there was a perfect homogeneous ice floe that the sea ice scientists were eager to study. So four of the scientists were brought to the ice floe on a small boat and took sea ice cores to measure the thickness, temperature, salinity, phytoplankton content and chemical constellation. In the meanwhile, the rest of us sat in the day room watching them through the windows. We were very jealous at them who could get on the ice! At some point there was an announcement through the speakers: Everyone was allowed to go on the ice floe! This made us so happy that we all ran to get into the floating suits and to enter the small boat. Finally – after four weeks on the ship, we could get off and step onto a piece of ice! We were very excited, jumped on the sea ice, made pyramids, and took a lot of crazy pictures until our hands were frozen! It was amazing and a lot of fun also to see the ship from distance.

Scientists taking a sea ice core at the sea ice margin in Dronning Maud Land.
Having fun on the sea ice. Photo: John Olav Vinje
Having fun on the sea ice. Photo: Asmita Singh

Although the ice floe looked very fragile and dangerous to step on, it was stable enough to hold all our jumps. It was fun and only the penguins were missing, but we could live with that. It was a great pay-off after the disappointment of heading north earlier than expected.

 

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.