Barrow. Photo: Stella Papadopoulou

Almost all participants of leg 2 arrived during the evening of 18th August to our place of rotation in Barrow, Alaska. Barrow is located on the northernmost stretch of the Alaskan coast facing the Arctic Ocean.


Scientific crew leg 2 arriving in Barrow, Alaska. Photo: Stella Papadopoulou

We flew here via Anchorage on the Alaskan west coast, were we had stayed over one night to be able to gather all leg 2 participants to go on two consecutive flights to Barrow. I said “almost all”, because one of us did not make it out of Stockholm as his ticket for some reason did not have the proper “numbers” printed on it and had therefore not made it into Iceland Airs booking system, despite that the ticket was booked and paid. Amazing that this could not be arranged by the airline. I definitely saw some empty seats on the flight over from Stockholm to Anchorage via Reykjavik! In any case, a new ticket was arranged by the travel agency the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat work with and our last leg 2 participant should arrive today, a bit less than a day delayed. This will not affect the rotation since Oden has to bunker fuel and supplies must be loaded before we can depart.

We are still on the planned rotation schedule. There are some scientists and crew that already are onboard Oden since they will participate in both leg 1 and 2 of the SWERUS-C3 expedition. This is very good for the continuity; there are several critical measurements that will span over the entire expedition. We just hope they are as enthusiastic as we are to start this second 45-day long leg 2!

Oden in Barrow

Oden outside Barrow, Alaska. Photo: Stella Papadopoulou

The weather here in Barrow is very good with calm wind. The weather is in fact extremely important for the rotation. The weather could easily become our Achilles’ heel! The reason for this is that Barrow has no port, only a long beach where large waves break if there is a swell. We are going to rotate with small boats that can go all the way into the shallow sand beach and pick us up and bring us out to Oden. With big waves this is simply not possible. The weather has been rather bad before we arrived with a lot of waves crashing into the coast. The severe decline in summer sea-ice extent the Arctic Ocean has experienced over the last decades is one of SWERUS-C3 research questions. Here in Barrow it is clearly noticeable as the coastal erosion increase substantially when the open water during summer allow for big waves to build up.

We cross our fingers for calm weather also for the first part of our leg 2 since there is just now no sea ice in working area 1, Herald Canyon north east of Wrangel Island.