Expedition blog by Mia Schumacher, GEOMAR
8 January 2021
Welcome (back) to the blog site of our current cruise on R/V Sonne: SO280, a.k.a IceDivA!
This morning around nine o’clock we left the harbour of Emden again to research the Atlantic. Connecting to our last cruise in summer 2020, the IceAGE3 expedition, where we explored the northern part of the Atlantic around Iceland, we now head for the southernmost point of our IceAGE measurement transect to continue the scientific journey towards the equator.
After two weeks in self isolation over Christmas at home and three days in the quarantine hotel and fortunately two negative Covid-19 tests for everyone, we were allowed to board R/V Sonne on 6 January 2021. It then took us the rest of time before leaving to unpack the containers with the gears, instruments and lab equipment and getting started.
As we are on transit towards out first working area for the first 4 days of our expedition and we have to wait for our science actions until we arrive on station, this might be a good chance to introduce the ship that will be our home for the next month.
The new R/V Sonne was launched in 2014, to take over from the old Sonne, who has been in service over 40 years. Overall, it’s 116m long, 20m wide and 42.4m high (so standing on the bridge facing waves on eye-level means that there is quite heavy weather outside). It can stay at sea for up to 52 days, being driven by four main engines and two propellers which convert fuel to motion energy up to a speed of 15kn. When operating at full capacity, there are 33 crew members and 40 scientists onboard – and enough food, fuel and water for 52 days! Most of the scientific life takes places on deck 3 of the Sonne’s eight decks, and this is also where all the large gear is stationed.
We are 53 people in total on this cruise with 32 people in the ship’s crew and 21 scientists. Most of the scientists are from Senckenberg Institute in Wilhelmshaven and Hamburg, accompanied by researchers from GEOMAR, the BSH (Bundesamts für Seeschifffahrt und Hydrographie) and the University of Oldenburg. Our science gear on board are the two Epi-benthos sledges “Ursula” and “Berta”, one Multicorer, one box corer, a CTD, various plankton nets and – as add on – an Ocean Floor Observation System, OFOS in short. It is a camera system which is towed over the side of the ship to take video footage of the sea floor. But more about our instruments when they are in action!
Now we are steaming towards the English channel and, depending on the weather conditions, will probably reach our first station on 12 January – at about 45°N and 21° W.