US Coast Guard Healy icebreaker is in the Arctic Ocean heading toward the North Pole in open water closing in on the sea ice. Scientists on board report windy weather so they may be looking forward to getting into the comfort of the sea ice since it flattens the seas no matter how strong the wind. Operating in sea ice has its disadvantages though since the icebreakers’ metal hull grinds through the ice creating a cacophony of sound resonating through the ship. Scientists are studying the seawater and ocean bottom which requires deploying instruments into the ocean on a wire to collect samples. As you may imagine, an ocean covered in sea ice makes it challenging to place an instrument in the ocean and to retrieve it.
The plan for deploying small wooden boats is that the Healy crew will deploy them on the ice as far North and as close to the North Pole as time and conducive conditions for field science allow. So keep an eye on the map to follow the boats!