Le réchauffement, un poisson d'avril ?

Yesterday morning, while going for daily measurements, I passed a very new track from 2 polar bear cubs with their mother. They are just out of the den and are now discovering their future hunting field. This year, March was much colder than usual. Pack ice and its inhabitants are all the better. Is it the result of our efforts, is climate trend reversing, or are we only having a little occasional cooling? Anyway, during 4 years, we didn't see any half-starved polar bear here. Are we living in a real sanctuary?


For the last 2 weeks, sky was clear and temperatures were below mean temperatures. Best conditions to work on pack ice, but also to admire parelie. This is the halo and all images of the sun given by refraction of the beams in a cloud formed with ice crystals. It is sometimes possible to see 3 images of the sun, also called false suns. These are often mentioned in Arctic stories and legends. While spring is starting, this phenomenon is added to the magic of northern lights, the last ones before permanent daylight.

Une bathysonde pour les brines

Since we came to Spitsbergen in 2004, we are using a CTD (Conductivity, Temperature, Depth). This instrument is recording salinity and temperature of the sea at every depth. At the moment, brines are accumulating at the bottom of the fjord, so much that this very cold and salty water drained off pack ice is filling up the fjord. This spectacular event is fascinating for oceanographers. To better understand it, I'm going every day on pack ice to send the CTD down with a winch.

Poisson rouge

This big balloon floating gently above Vagabond makes me think about a goldfish, escaped from its bowl to visit the Arctic and check global warming. It set up with us for few months, to sound wind, humidity, pressure and temperature in altitude. For now, the sensors it is carrying towards the sky are confirming that the weather has been particularly cold for one week! Temperature this morning: -25°C. Wind 25 km/h, equivalent temperature -46°C. On board, we have to be more careful to keep a minimum comfort and enjoy the last hours of night, in the warmth. We can already feel the permanent daylight...

Sondages et carottages

For the last few days, the scientific season is at its height and our pack ice is receiving full attention. Diversity of measures is to compare with diversity of researchers welcomed on board Vagabond. American, Estonian, English, Finn, French, all together we are sounding sea ice an its environment with CTD, icemeter, radiometers, thermometers, hygrometers, anemometers, densitometer... Some instruments are diving 100 meters below pack ice, others are climbing up to 1500 meters altitude. What a place full of life! In addition, the weather is perfect: temperature -30°C, no wind and clear sky for the last 4 days.