Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 23 Issue 04

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Volume 23, No. 4
Pages 173 - 174


BOOK REVIEW • Field Techniques for Sea Ice Research

By Blake Weissling  
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In 2007, I had the opportunity to participate as a PhD student in sea ice field research in the Bellingshausen Sea of Antarctica. I was a first-timer, a novice, a complete rookie in a polar environment as were all of my student colleagues. Upon arriving at our primary sea ice study site or station, we were given our first task of laying out a survey line on the sea ice, from which we would ultimately collect various physical data such as snow depth, ice thickness, and snow/ice interface temperature. It seemed like a simple task: lay out a 100-m survey tape, stake the endpoints, and mark incremental 1-m sampling locations. Our chief scientist and principal investigator, a veteran of 30-plus years of sea ice research, observed our progress in this endeavor from the ship’s bridge. As we assumed the task to be trivial, we did not ask for the PI’s advice, nor did we question his nonchalance in his description of the task. What followed was both an exercise in futility and a scene of epic (i.e., comic) proportions. The wind was blowing…hard. And, of course, it was bitterly cold. How hard could this be—one person holding the tape reel and the other pulling the end across the ice? Five meters out and we sensed we had an issue. Ten meters out and our seemingly inanimate tape took on a life of its own. Thirty meters out and I swear (I was the reel holder) I had hooked a fish and was reliving a Hemingwayesque battle with the mother of all swordfish. Fifty meters out, my end man let go of the tape and I was now flying an uncontrollable kite that couldn’t be reeled in. Now, picture my end man running vainly to and fro (in full Antarctic-issue orange polar attire) trying to catch hold of the tape like some five year old in his/her own epic battle with a butterfly…


B. Weissling. 2010. Review of Field Techniques for Sea Ice Research, edited by H. Eicken. Oceanography 23(4):173–174, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2010.18.

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