September 10, 2018

Into submission

It has been a long month…

I thought I would write about how we stopped short of the North Pole (90.°N) by ~5 miles due to thick ice and because getting to that finite point isn’t required to accomplish our scientific objectives, but we decided to have a party since Stockholm said it counts.

Photo coordinated and taken by Lars Lehnert (SPRS) on August 12.

I thought I would write about my disappointment in that geographical shortcoming, but instead decided focus on how I’ve found myself routinely being surprised by the friendly faces and supportive conversations that I’ve found in the galley at 2 in the morning, or out on the deck in the cold, or occasionally in my lonely little lab.

Where many amazing conversations (with people) have occurred at 2 in the morning.

Those posts were supposed to be called “Where north ends and south begins” and “Don’t forget to count the eggs (before you count your chickens),” but they were never written.

I also thought I should write a “Short but sweet” post entitled “More than words” about how I’ve been finding it hard to write blog posts but have managed to post photos with descriptive captions on Instagram (a photo is worth morethan a thousand words if it includes a caption and hashtags!).

Photo of Walker and me at the Pole, which I had planned to post to Instagram but didn’t due to the hi-res group photo being distributed off the ship.

 I encourage you to follow me on Instagram rather than here—my account is @armargolin or you can find my Arctic-specific posts via #ArcticAndy.

* * *
Instead of blogging, I’ve spent my month getting little sleep analyzing as many samples as I can, and as a result I’ve had little energy and motivation, and have been lacking the creativity that is necessary to write a good post.

My typical view in lab as samples are analyzed, which has progressively become cozier and cozier, as the gurgling of CO2measurements and pumping of alkalinity titrations have become sedative white noise to my tired ears.

I’ve also been preoccupied with a research proposal that I’ve had to write while out here, which was recently submitted from land by someone I am very grateful to have supporting me from afar on this long, challenging, and isolating expedition.

My connection to the outside world is limited to small (200 KB max) emails with exchanges oftentimes delayed by >6 hours, and there is never a guarantee that my emails even go through.

There is an iridium phone that I can use, but I limit my calls to one person on a weekly basis since it can be expen$ive!

Unfortunately, there is no internet access out here so I will not be able to see this post until September 25, along with a number of other things associated with the “outside world” that I have come to miss.

My view looking back from the “outside world” (i.e., on the floe) when helping Philipp mark the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) survey area and measure ice thickness. The red tent is where the ROV is deployed from an ice hole, where I frequently collect water samples.

* * *

On past expeditions, I’ve tried to document my experiences using photography, but I have found that static photos don’t quite capture the dynamic nature of this work and life style, and that they don’t captivate in the same way that video does, which I’ve more recently been incorporating into my multimedia portfolio.

I’ve also found—or I suspect—that few people actually ready these posts, so I thought I’d try to put my energy into keeping a video journal while out here, rather than maintaining photo or web logs (did you know: blogis actually short for “web log”!).

I am proud to say that I have successfully been keeping a video journal while on this expedition, which includes 1- to 5-minute entries every 1-2 days, recorded on my phone, and complemented by footage and photos from a couple other cameras that I have.

Screenshot of me recording my latest journal entry, just after midnight on September 6 (GMT).

Prior to the start of this expedition, my hope was to create a 10-part miniseries on my YouTube channel consisting of 5-minute episodes that documents this expedition, entitled “Tales from a floe.”

Now, in the middle of the expedition, I feel that I have enough footage and photos to create a >10-part miniseries, documenting my experiences, which will likely come out in early 2019 with weekly installations, entitled “Arctic Andy’s tales from a floe.”

* * *

As a scientist, I have struggled with the idea that the most effective way to move my career forward is to communicate my findings laterally—to my fellow scientist colleagues—by submitting them to peer-reviewed journals for publication on platforms that few people read.

I suppose I struggle with that because there clearly are issues with science communication to the general public, the understanding and/or comprehension of human-made climate change, and that variations in climate (i.e., abnormal or unseasonal weather conditions) are devastating life on our planet (e.g., recent and/or continuing forest fires in California, British Columbia, Sweden, Norway, Brazil, flooding in France, India and Hawaii, and a typhoon in Japan and a state of emergency in the U.S. Gulf Coast… my access to news out here is limited so I’m sure the list is even longer!).

Anyway, my hope is that through efforts like “Arctic Andy’s tales from a floe,” we can educate the next generation via “bottom-up” or “trickle-up” climate science education and communication, and that rather than saying “it’s too late” or “it’s nottoo late,” we can say “we did it,” or perhaps my generation and older generations will come to realize that we will be saying “theydid it.”

If you are a school teacher or have children, I hope you engage them in the discussion of climate and the real problem that we have created as a result of our reckless emissions that are driving human-made climate change.

Hopefully I—or “Arctic Andy”—can provide stories to engage in such discussions.

Photo of me (aka SPIDER-MAN) running the AA5K in AntarcticA with friends back in 2013. Photo was used for cover slide of talk given to ~7-year-olds about the (Ant)Arctic and climate change, which they surprisingly(?!) enjoyed.

Please don’t hesitate to email me if you, your students or your children have anyquestions for me while I am out here in the ice—direct email is the best way for me to communicate since I am effectively blinded from the “outside world.”

My email while out here is

I hope this finds you well,
Date: 2018 September 8.
Time (GMT): 14:10.
Latitude: 88°42.08’N.
Longitude: 45°14.34’E.
Air temperature: -5.5°C.
Windchill: -7.9°C.
Wind speed: 4.7 m/s.