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Arctic Diary – Week Four

April 20 – April 26, 2002

We have really made ourselves at home on the ice. An Arctic fox has discovered us, and visits our camp regularly, looking for food around our kitchen tent and garbage area. His white fur which provides him with camouflage in the snow, will soon turn darker to blend in with the summer landscape.
After spending long hours working outside in the cold, everyone likes to gather in the kitchen tent to enjoy hot, homemade food, and to discuss the day's events.
Sometimes when the science tent is crowded, we work on our laptop computers in our accommodation tents. Since our tents are on the sea ice and the heat from our stoves rises up, it can be cold on the floor and hot near the roof, so we hang our clothing on ropes near the ceiling to warm up and dry out.
One of the few tents without a stove is our outhouse tent, so no one spends a long time in there!
We have been running many different experiments using underwater sound sources and listening devices. We sometimes have to transport equipment by snowmobile several kilometres away from the camp, over rough ice.

Precision surveying equipment that measures distances by timing a reflected laser beam is used to determine exact locations for our tests.
In order to get the sound sources underneath the ice, we must use an auger to drill holes through the ice like a corkscrew. This is often done by hand, but if the ice is very thick, a motor is attached to turn the auger, and a tall tripod is used to pull out the long drill stem.

To cut larger holes, a hot water drill is used. This machine re-circulates water, quickly heats it to a high temperature, and pumps it out of a hose with special cutting heads to melt through the ice.
The ocean environment affects how sound travels and how it reflects off ice. Before we run our tests, we lower instruments into the sea that tell us information about the ocean environment such as temperature and salt content.

Several different types of sound-generating sources are lowered into the ocean through the ice holes. The ability of our acoustic listening devices to pick up these sounds is carefully monitored by test equipment back in the science tent.
If anything does not work properly, the technologists must find the problem and repair it right away. They have brought lots of supplies, because we are thousands of kilometres from the nearest hardware store.

Week Three / Arctic Diary / Week Five