Arctic surprises

The polar day, with its midnight sun, means we can carry out helicopter and copter flights round the clock. But the weather in the Franz Josef Land archipelago is getting in the way of that right now. There’s nothing consistent about any of this. Here, north of the 80th parallel, fog can replace sun in the space of an hour – it turns into heavy cloud cover, the wind kicks in at 20 metres a second, and then – the sun comes right back! Scientists dropped off on the island by helicopter are often have to wait for the helicopter for their flights back. And any “window” of good weather is put to good use for sorties (flights), and for making observations and taking photographs.

Another “pleasant” feature of the Arctic is – drifting ice. The first boat trip to one of the Franz Josef Land islands turned into something of an adventure for us. Heading out towards the archipelago, everyone on the expedition was fine: but coming back … All of a sudden, four people found themselves stuck in an ice trap. The home vessel didn’t seem to be that far away – just a couple of kilometres – but there was no way of getting to it, and the Mikhail Somov had to carve out a route to the boat. But everything turned out OK, in the end!

We are continuing to make sorties and boat trips to areas where we might catch sight of narwhals, belugas and bowhead whales.