AWI Webpage ( - Polarstern)

ANT XXIV/1, Weekly Report N0.1

26 October - 04 November 2007

On 26th October 2007 POLARSTERN set sail for her 24th Antarctic expedition, leaving her homeport of Bremerhaven at 1:30 pm with 43 scientists and 48 crew members on board. Escorted by two tug boats, Polarstern passed through the tidal lock and steamed out via the River Weser into the southern North Sea. The favourable sunny weather and calm seas meant that even the "greenhorns" (82% of the scientists are on board the Polarstern for the first time) could start to explore the ship. Fortunately, we continued to experience calm seas, until Sunday when we encountered storm winds in the western English Channel, which resulted in only minor "casualties" among the stomachs of the cruise participants.

There are several scientific programmes to be conducted during the first leg of the cruise:

These different research programmes will be introduced in detail in the following weekly reports.

Before we could start our scientific work, laboratory spaces had to be allocated in the first days of the cruise, the scientific equipment had to be unpacked and assembled. Many instruments (air samplers, radiometer, sky imager) were installed on the monkey deck, and our plankton nets were assembled and tested on the helicopter deck and in the big wet lab. We are holding regular meetings each morning and evening, when the individual scientists talk about their research, introducing everybody onboard to the different research projects planned for the cruise.

All the groups that are measuring underway have already started their sampling. Tomorrow (Monday) the zooplanktologists will reach their first station; everybody is anxious to start.

Among the first tasks of the cruise were a test of the deep-sea sediment echosounder PARASOUND in the Bay of Biscay and the calibration of the underwater navigation system POSIDONIA. Both tasks went well and were completed successfully in half of the scheduled time, leaving more station time available for zooplankton sampling.

Today (Sunday 4/11) we reached Las Palmas, where the six PARASOUND/POSIDONIA persons left the ship and three "new" participants (2 zooplanktologists and 1 photographer) embarked. The exchange took place at 1000h via the agent's small boat, while Polarstern was hove to a short distance off the coast. The evening before, we had said farewell to the disembarking colleagues with a barbecue on deck and very tasty food prepared by the service and kitchen team.

Today the air temperature is around 21°C and sea surface temperature is 23°C. We saw some whales in the Bay of Biscay and off Portugal, but on Sunday we began to see flying fishes and sea turtles; a sure sign that we are approaching the tropics. On behalf of all participants, we send our best regards to friends and families at home.