Finally defeated: Sea ice surrounding Herschel Island. ©Anneke Heins

When the polar researchers celebrated the ice thaw in the Arctic

The second week of the Yukon2022 expedition has passed and close to the end of leg one we celebrated the long awaited thawing of the ice.

While it seems counter-intuitive for polar researchers to lose their minds (in a positive sense) over the retreat of sea ice, around Herschel Island this is an absolutely normal process and it was overdue since a couple of weeks.

Yukon22 report2 2

Now, with the crew change only two days ahead we could finally bring the “Christine” to the water and for the first time this year reach previously unreachable sampling locations. This resulted in something that none of the previous land missions could provide us with: Salt water. Finally!

However, early that morning this did not seem possible at all. That was the reason why after breakfast “Team Raft” tried to navigate through the ice to reach the middle of the cove on a make-shift boat. They succeeded, but the ride was tedious and time-consuming – only for the cove to clear out a few hours later. A somewhat annoying joke of nature, but well-received nonetheless, for in the end we all got what we came for. And while “Team Raft” processed their samples in the lab, “Team Christine” took the first samples by boat.

Yukon22 report2 1

After this day, the ice would prove to finally be beaten completely. Everywhere we saw the cracks and scars in the previously solid white carpet and after a well-deserved but short night of sleep, we woke up to a new type of sound: Waves. Actual waves rolling against the shore.

With that, and certainly one crying and one laughing eye, we prepared ourselves for the crew change. When the twin otter landed to take us away, the others prepared us verbally for Canada’s heatwave. We would leave the not-so-much-eternal ice to land at 25°C with only our frozen samples reminding us of harsh winds, musk ox, and a unique adventure on this beautiful spot of land in the Atlantic Ocean.