Jun. 27th, 2008

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82°45' N, 52°28' E



I think my highest north last year was 81 or 82 degrees, when the Polar Pioneer went as far north as was feasible into the summer ice pack, above Svalbard.

It's misty-foggy; Fifty Years of Victory is pushing steadily through heavier ice this morning, making use of many openings, the leads between the plates. Even though the ship breaks ice easily, it's still faster to use the leads when they go in the right direction. The plates of ice are seamed with pressure ridges, some low, some high: lines of tumbled chunks of ice showing where two plates rammed together and fused, or where one plate buckled and crumpled under the force of impact with others. The ice is moved by winds and tides and currents, so it's always shifting — it's not a solid layer anywhere, although the thicker it is, the more resistant to breaking it is.

The fog shrinks the world. It does this everywhere, but here in the ice, without no landscape feature to cue the brain to calculate distance, it makes the world very small indeed. Ten feet beyond the boundary of visibility, a polar bear could stand watching the ship pass; we would not see it.


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