non-sexy, unglamorous, protocol

Every 2 kilometers we stop to measure snow.
Sometimes we would rather ignore this science because stopping and doing 10 measurements, writing down coordinates and snow depths is tedious, and time consuming.
We know that this kind of science is non-sexy, unglamorous but perhaps one of the most important contributions to understanding the arctic.

After our successful fly-over by NASA a few days ago, we are motivated to really give scientists relevant and valuable data, from the 224 km we ski to the pole.
This means you need to follow a protocol- don’t deviate and let the snow sampling be favorable to your location but take it as it comes.
So today was another frigid day, -36C likely -40 with the windchill, not a day to stand around and ensemble a probe pole, take out your notebook (and gloves) and write down the measurements.
However by doing this consistently we are starting to get a good feel for the snowpack.

Since today we are skiing over big frozen leads – that were open water lakes before the cold spell.
Ironically the closer we are getting to the North Pole the bigger the leads.
Good for us they are solid now and we ski right over them but in a few months from now this will all be water.

As you can imagine the amount of snow on top of a lead is marginal – no more then 3 to 4 cm.
But more important question would be when did it snow and how long ago?
Scientists would like us to register windslabs on top of the snow and today we continuously walked on crusty and collapsing layers, the ones that are a curse for our sleds and they break right through.
It means it has been windy here close to the pole.

This in combination with drift and current, the North Pole is dynamic and ever changing.
Underneath the slab we find hoarse crystals — a sign of severe cold.
This is a crystal that doesn’t bond with anything due to its size and formation.
When you ski through them it sounds like you ski through broken glass.

I am starting to really enjoy this micro analyzing of the snow we ski over mile after mile.
Kudos to Ann who volunteered to do the snow stabbing while we warmed ourselves.

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