PS115/2 - Wochenbericht Nr. 6 | 08. - 14.10.2018

About packing, cleaning, writing – and a thank you very much at the end

[15. October 2018] 

Our reseach program has already been finished on Thursday last week at 10:00, and we have started our journey back to Bremehaven. In this final week of the expedition, other activities than research are dominating our daily life. These are mainly packing boxes, instruments etc., cleaning labs, writing reports etc.

Besides this, some other activities continue in the wet lab of the geologists. There are still a couple of cores that have to be opened, described and sampled. Some hurry is needed, as after having finished the sampling work, the sediment samples have to be stored in boxes, the wet lab has to be cleaned in time. Strict deadlines for all theses activities are given by our 1WO Uwe Grundmann! Although routine (and sometimes boring) work is controlling our day life, some details should be listed here in chronological order.


Monday (08 Oct 18) and Tuesday (09 Oct 18) are the final busy days in the wet lab, opening cores, taking hundreds of samples. For a few hours, a stranger is watching the geologists doing their “mud work”, a little bird arrives, sitting in the wet lab, relaxing for some time before it continues his journey to ??? Our daily morning meetings are shifted now to the afternoon, extended by short reports of first scientific results by the different working groups. Today (Tuesday), for example, Dirk Olonscheck tells us a story about the outcome of launching 90 (!) radiosondes. The “special highlichgt of the day”, however, are the polar lights, Aurora borealis, observed by many people on the peildeck – fantastic, really impressive! (Fig. 1).

Wednesday (10 Oct 2018) – a special day with an unexpected event – at least for those who are not onboard and thus do not know the background. We change our direct course to Bremerhaven for a short stop in Tromsö. The stop in Tromsö has been scheduled to embark nine engineers and technicians who will directly start onboard Polarstern with some prework to prepare the large-scale and time-consuming reparation work to be done during the coming shipyard stay in Bremerhaven. Nine new people -  in “exchange” with our four HeliService guys Harold, Lukas, Thomas and Victor as well as two persons from the crew and science party.

We are steaming towards Tromsö, cloudy conditions and drizzle. At 08:30 the pilot comes onboard, two hours later we arrive at the Grøtsund-Pier north and quite far away from Tromsö City (where we “normally” stay at the Breivika Pier). The Grøtsund-Pier is different, a little bit hopeless, looking like a security area. A positive aspect, just with our arrival the sun shows up, nice weather for a walk towards Tromsö City – but not for us. But at least – and we all are very happy with this – we can go outside the ship, walk in front of the ship, play even soccer or just enjoy seeing Polarstern from outside and under sunny conditions. Our short stay in Tromsö is impressively documented in the “living letters” of the name Polarstern, arranged on the pier in front of Polarstern (Fig. 2). Two hours later, all people are back onboard, we are leaving, steaming through a beautiful fjord landscape towards the North Atlantic, accompanied by sunshine, some drizzle and a rainbow – again a great scenary.

Thursday (11 Oct 18). Most of us are still involved in packing and writing activities. In the geo-wet lab, the main cleaning event has started – some real fun (?). Instead of playing with mud, the geologist are playing with water – it’s a real wet lab now. This procedure, however, is needed to get rid of all the traces of mud distributed all over the lab. In the evening we have a social event in the Zillertal, Heike Zimmermann and Lutz Peine are celebrating their 99. birthday.

Friday (12 Oct 18). At the 08:15 meeting our Weather-Max announces a strong storm for the coming night, wind speeds of 8-9 Bft, maybe 10 Bft are possible (Fig. 3) – That means, the ship may strongly move up-and-down. The ship has to be prepared for this storm to avoid that things are flowing around, become destroyed, and people become injured. We are prepared – the storm may come!! During our science meetings at 16:30 and 19:30, results of the geology and geophysics programs, respectively, are presented, and we already realized some first ship’s movement.

Saturday (13 Oct 18), shortly after midnight. Now it starts, Weather-Max has been right. From hour to hour, the storm becomes stronger and stronger, the waves higher and higher. Some of us enjoy it, some others certainly not, many even do not realize it during their sleep. During the day, the storm looses its power rapidly, and we can speed-up again towards Bremerhaven. In the afternoon we have another science meeting, the ArcTrain students are talking about results and impressions of their work onboard Polarstern. In the evening, a lot of people are watching the soccer game Netherlands – Germany. Not an exiting result for most of us (Germany lost 0:3), but a few people loudly applaud – acceptable for our dutch Anouk and Jolien, but why Camille who is from Montreal….?

Sunday (14 Oct 18), the last Sunday onboard. Captain and chief scientist (Fahrtleiter) have invited for the official farewell reception in the Blue Saloon at 16:00 (Fig. 4). Time to say good-bye and, especially, thank-you-very-much to all the different groups. As chief scientist of this expedition, I would like to highlight that the success of this expedition strongly depended on the excellent cooperation between crew and scientists, and this in all situations, and during day and night. For this strong support throughout the entire expedition, I cordially thank our Captain Thomas Wunderlich and his crew!! Many thanks also to Harold de Jager and his HeliService Team. The ArcTrain students having a very different background knowledge (i.e., geology/paleoceanography, sea ice physics, modeling), have been so active all the time in helping all our meteorological, sea ice, geophysical and geological working groups on deck and in the labs as well as taking over many hours of Parasound and marine mammal watches. Thanks a lot to ArcTrain!!! Of course, I also would like to take the opportunity to thank the GeoTeam under the lead of Micha Schreck to handle all the many metres of gravity and kastenlot cores, giant box corer samples and multicorer tubes etc., without any grumbling and snarling. At least I myself had the feeling that besides all the hard work they still had some fun with the mud etc.. Many, many thanks, especially also to you, Micha. Finally, I would like to come back to our Captain. Thomas, many, many thanks for your long and personal laudatio to my own person as this has been my last Polarstern expedition (was it really my last one ?......).

But this is for sure now the last weekly report of this expedition. It’s all over now! 7680 nautical miles we have sailed together onboard Polarstern (Fig. 5), have become a team, a successful team, and perhaps also friends. Now, we separate, go home in different directions. I wish all of you a good and safe trip home. See you sometimes again, somewhere, in Bremerhaven, Bremen, Canada, China, Russia ..... or onboard Polarstern? Goodbye, Au revoir, and Auf Wiedersehen!!

For last last time during this expedition, kind regards to all our friends and families at home from the Polarstern, also in the name of all cruise participants,


Ruediger Stein




Rüdiger Stein

Scientific Coordination

Rainer Knust
Rainer Knust


Sanne Bochert
Sanne Bochert