24 March 2007

Position:  73-10N/145-54W

Temperature:  -17ºF


Greetings from APLIS, adrift in the Arctic Ocean. 


Things are getting busy here.  While we continue testing with ALEXANDRIA, we have two groups visiting this weekend that are pushing the APLIS population to new highs.


The first is a production crew from the television series “Stargate SG-1”.  They will be using APLIS as a base for filming part of an upcoming made-for-TV movie.  We’ve got two of the series stars here - Ben Browder and Amanda Tapping - and quite a few of the production crew.  So far, they have shot a couple scenes out on the ice and generally prepared for some bigger shots late in the week.


At the same time, we had another group of VIPs this weekend.  This group, led by ADM Kirk Donald (Naval Reactors), included Congressman Joe Courtney from Connecticut; Deputy Secretary of Energy Clay Sell; Director of DoD Program Analysis & Evaluation Brad Berkson; and Commodore Kenneth Perry from Submarine Development Squadron Twelve.  They passed through camp in the afternoon on their way to spend the night aboard ALEXANDRIA.  To help make room aboard, the boat has sent ten of their crewmen to spend the night on the camp.  This eased the berthing situation on the boat and gave the crew an opportunity to experience camp life for one night.


A couple little things to catch up on.



Naval Postgraduate School Science Hole


Earlier, I talked about the students from the Naval Postgraduate School here doing research.  Last time, I said that they had succeeded in getting the hole melted through 40 feet of ice (see photo below).  They have collected a lot of data since.  Here again Lieutenants Bleidorn and McGeehan:


We have collected some valuable data.  First, we lowered a small high frequency sonar system down our 40 ft deep hole to image the underside of the ice.  This data will allow us to determine the roughness at the ice-ocean interface.  Then, we deployed a flux probe down the same hole.  A flux probe is basically a device for precise measurement of ocean currents.  It needs to be very sensitive (accurate to 0.1 millimeter per second) to calculate turbulence.  Putting the two data sets together, we will be able to relate a given roughness to the turbulence produced.  This is an important input into the models which forecast the interactions between the atmosphere, ice, and ocean.



The subject of ice mining has come up a couple ties but I’ve never fully explained it.  All human life - even ours - depends on water.  We use it for drinking, cooking, washing, bathing, and that most essential of commodities - coffee.  We’re living on an ocean but seawater, with its natural saltiness, can’t be used for drinking.  We are also living on frozen ocean but it, too, is normally too salty to drink.  Fortunately, ice warms during the summer and the brine originally frozen with the ice is able to drain out.  The older the ice, the fresher.  Besides stability, the advantage of living on an old floe is that the ice we’re walking on is fairly pure.  We’ve set aside one area just outside the camp as an “ice mine”.  This ice is harvested regularly to provide the camp with all of his water needs.  A large “water supply”, in frozen form, is always available for the cooks and all APLIS residents.



Freshwater Storage at APLIS


One last thing.  I’ve mentioned a couple times that, when we are done, APLIS will be turned over to the National Science Foundation for environmental research.  If you are interested in that program, information is available at http:/research.IARC.UAF.edu/sedna.


Jeff Gossett

Arctic Submarine Laboratory