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"The ship only need 7 days to reach the station, which is 1,600 kilometres from Canada. 5 days earlier than planned"

That would be due to the ease of getting through the ice pack perhaps??


Reading about the research stations on Arctic ice floes and it's dangers always reminds me of this action/spy novel Target 5 from Colin Forbes. It's about a Russian scientist based on a floating Russian research station who attempts to deflect to the nearby American research station Target 5 with important information across the shifting Arctic ice floes.

It mentions a form of fog called 'black fog', a form of deep chilled fog which allegedly freezes instantly anything it comes in contact with. Luckily for researchers and adventurers this type of fog is only a fantasy.

Kevin McKinney

"deflect"--"defect," I presume? Sounds amusing, anyway. My reference would be "Ice Station Zebra," by the late Alastair McLean. Loved his stuff when I was a kid...

"Black fog" isn't just fictional, though--in addition to being a Pokemon monster, a Minecraft phenomenon, and a Marvel Comics character--all undoubtedly fictional--it's also a cocktail, a chemtrail (OK, my guess is that that's really fictional, too), a beer and (around Cape Cod) a type of actual (exceptionally dense) fog. Who knew? Oh, and I mustn't forget the (Russian?) experimental synth 'band' of that name either, or several namesake bands around the world.

All of which has little to do with the Yamal and the rescue efforts, of course. I certainly hope that they proceed safely and effectively.

michael sweet

I also noticed that they were way ahead of schedule and thought that means the ice was thin. Is it possible they have a blog that says how thick the ice they passed through was? Is there any other way to access this information? Perhaps the rescued researchers will post something about what they learn as they move to the new location.


The early breakup and the speed of the icebreaker furnish more proof of ice thinning - as if it were needed.

Some time ago I bought an old article about the Ermak / Yermak / Jermak and re-published it in my blog. It was the first specially built icebreaker for the Russians and was designed to cope with the very thick ice of 1898.
For those of you who speak Dutch - wink - here is a link to the nl.wikipedia article. For those who speak English - go to "Jermak op science 2.0 website, met veel historische foto's" at the foot of the Wikipedia article. It's nice to be cited. :-)

Heads up, news article !
NASA Finds ‘Amazing’ Levels Of Arctic Methane And CO2, Asks ‘Is a Sleeping Climate Giant Stirring in the Arctic?’
Joe Romm

Ac A

The last sentence is the best!


Ya gotta love the paint job on that ice breaker!


Sorry for the off topic question: one of the links to the right under the category Arctic Sea Ice News" is to an article about Antarctic ice melting form the bottom up. If you click on it, it shows a picture of pinguins swimming underwater overshadowed by ice flows.

The pinguins are leaving bubble trails. Is this for real? I've never seen a fish leave a bubble trail no matter how fast it swam. Am I mistaken or is the photo photo shopped?

Peter Ellis



Fufufunknknk, no idea, but that's no good reason not to speculate recklessly - I don't believe it's been photoshopped, could be air compressed and trapped between the feathers by water column pressure expanding and escaping as the bird rapidly surfaces?


should have googled it first: [http://carinbondar.com/2011/06/biology-meet-physics-torpedo-like-emperor-penguins-can-show-us-a-thing-or-two-about-air-lubrication/] has more


It's one of those things about bio-mimicry that interests me.

Assuming this is real and given the importance to penguins of speed underwater, as well as vague memories of using bubble layers for rocket driven torpedoes, then this seems like an interesting phenomena. Suppose you ran "bubblers" in a strip under water down the hulls of large ships: would the bubbles reduce friction enough to justify the costs of pumping the air?

I also note in the photo that the penguins are all ascending, getting ready to make that jump onto the ice where they need a lot of speed. Maybe you are right, air trapped in the feathers is squeezed out either by the speed itself or perhaps on purpose to help reduce friction.

I guess there is also the question is it to reduce surface area, overall size or do the bubbles themselves actually reduce friction.


Ah, didn't read your post until afterwards. Thanks, nice link...

but on the other hand, dang. First the pizza-delivery-by-micro-drone idea is taken and now this.

That only leaves the unicycle for horses... but I haven't figured out how to monetize that one yet.


Nice call on the air in feathers though. I assumed it was exhaled.


Penguins in the Arctic ? ;-)

"Here we show evidence that penguins dive to 15 to 20 m with air in their plumage and that this compressed air is released as the birds subsequently ascend whilst maintaining depressed feathers. Fine bubbles emerge continuously from the entire plumage, forming a smooth layer over the body and generating bubbly wakes behind the penguins.
... from simple physical models and calculations presented, we hypothesize that a significant proportion of the enhanced ascent speed is due to air lubrication reducing frictional and form drag"

Now you know.


Kevin - 'defect' indeed, thanks!


... and apart from the reduced drag, 'blowing' bubbles in the eyes of the pursuing leopard seal won't hurt either :) every little helps


OK, enough about flatulent penguins, already! Back to Russian scientists in trouble, and ice conditions in the Beaufort Sea where icebreakers get where they want to go twice as fast as expected.


Confusing data on the state of the Beaufort ice. Is there any remaining imprint of the cracks in February-March or have they been squeezed together by the recent ice movement towards the Beaufort coast?


I'm seeing several points of confusion here.

The 1600 km cannot refer to the distance from the Yamal's home port in Murmansk to the Beaufort Sea station, as the distance from Murmansk to Barrow is 4398 km and their floe is very close to one of the 2012 drift buoys, only a few hundred km north of Prince Patrick at 81ºN 135ºW when the rescue request was made. Perhaps 1600 km to Canadian mainland.

If indeed the Yamal left from Murmansk, simply following the 35th meridian to the pole and the 135th to the floe is approximately a geoid geodesic (shortest road) and avoids the thickest ice. However they may have gone up and around the pole for less current and even thinner ice.

I recollect their average velocity was about 7 km/hr which says a lot about the unexpectedly weak condition of the ice.

As previously announced, the research station is not being relocated to another floe but rather to an abandoned land research station, I recall on Boshevik Island (X on map below) in the Severnaya Zemlya, between the Kara and the Laptev seas.

Hopefully we will see some blogging soon from the crew about conditions encountered, as well as data from their scientific logging. I did locate the project home page; google-translate did a good enough job (it's sneaking up on you Neven) but, like so many scientific web pages (eg the Curve project of low elevation permafrost methane transects on Joe Romm yesterday), didn't provide any substance.

This must have been fairly terrifying experience, to be two weeks out from their support line. Looking at the abrupt melt (reddish brown) in the Chukchi yesterday and today, I think they would have been on thin ice indeed had the Yamal not arrived in half the expected time.

 photo yamalRoute_zps620bcf14.png


Mig, good question. The cracks are still around but the physical status of the ice within them is a bit of an unknown. We are getting a lot of cloud interference in an arc about the Bering Strait in all our imagery including microwave (spurious white, which usually means thick ice). Meanwhile, high resolution visible is showing blue ice along the coast and lily pads out from Barrow.

 photo Crackstatus_zpsdb7c3b54.jpg

Remko Kampen

After the Crack Event this spring, those cracks (not calling them 'polynya' anymore?) got a new overcast of ice. This probably prevented a number of them closing up again and I've been thinking they may have helped with some area.

I'd imagine at least something is known about ice on frozen polynya. I would imagine that those not too broad could get ice thickness comparable to surroundings rather quickly. Otoh perhaps these zones remain thin for a long time due to water dynamics in their vicinity. Don't know.


The real way icebreaker


The planned return trip (yellow dotted line)


For comparison, the first trip to North Pole of nuclear icebreaker in August 1977.




How wonderful to have these authentic russian maps on the blog.

Thank you, thank you very much indeed.

You are opening a totally new world to us!

Please keep up the good work. Your efforts will be rewarded throughout the end game.

Jai Mitchell


I have been trying to find voyage details for the Lenin.

Do you have date of departure and arrival for the two legs of the trip?


@Jai M

Please don't make a fool of yourself!

The ship is not called Lenin - it's called Yamal - try Wikipedia.

It is obvious from the maps - if you saw them at all, that the ship left Murmansk 1 June and has not yet reached its final destination.


try read what is written in the beginning of this blog instead of guessing the distances. It is very clear that the broken ice island was 1600 km from the Canadian coast and not 1600 km from Murmansk.

Glenn Tamblyn

Wikipedia has the ship that made the 1977 passage to the Pole as the Arktika http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arktika_%28icebreaker%29

Glenn Tamblyn

Given the what is happening up there due to the storm, reports from the ship on ice conditions during her voyage there and back might be very interesting

Glenn Tamblyn

By 'the ship' I was referring to the Yamal.


“For comparison, the first trip to North Pole of nuclear icebreaker in August 1977.”

Glenn, try reading again what Arcticicelost81 was writing. It’s wonderful Russian-English as we know it. He/she does not mention Yamal at all in that second post.

It may have been any ship in those days. It may have been a propaganda stunt, it may have actually occurred in real life. The main point is, that time is not in our favour. We cannot afford to exclude anyone from this blog at this moment. We need all the help we can get from all countries in the World.


Great story! Soon, it ‘ll be detail on the sidelines of the present drama.
I’ve been noodling with bing translator a bit on the Russian “science evolution” site. Racing through the text I collected ‘… through thick more than 3 m ice…’, ‘… tense situation…danger of getting stuck…’. In August….
We know this, it’s no surprise to see the signs of a very different Arctic 1977 compared to today.


What were the Russian scientists of NP-40 actually measuring that they can move to Severnaya Zemlya without a discontuity in their record? Maybe a Machiavellian thought, but this kind of research stations can be abused by politicians to make claims on the natural resources of the Arctic later. I don't doubt the integrity of the scientists though.

Jai Mitchell

sorry, don't read Russian very good!

yes the Arktika. . .

source: U.S. Navy.

The Arktika spent 15 hours at the north pole on August 17, 1977 The round trip from Murmansk took 13 days. She has the ability to move through ice 2.1 to 2.4 meters thick at a continuous speed of 3 knots.


Как я предложил, они пошли вверх и вокруг полюса для более тонких льда и быстрое передвижение. Вот то, что маршрут будет выглядеть на предсказание, сделанное ВМФ.

 photo russianRescue_zps4e902eed.png




Are you suggesting that the Russians followed American orders, or are we finally getting some Arctic transparency on this issue?


"Perhaps 1600 km to Canadian mainland" - yes

"I recollect their average velocity was about 7 km/hr which says a lot about the unexpectedly weak condition of the ice" - they reached SP-40 in 7,5 days, much earlier than was planned, with avg speed about 8 knots, thats more like 15 km/hr.

Also, I have found the high-resolution scheme of the SP-40 situation on June, 03.


"How wonderful to have these authentic russian maps on the blog."

P-maker, Thank you.

Also I read with interest the analyzes on the site.

I think of these charts can obtain information about the average speed of the ice-breaker for the day, which means the average thickness of the ice.

Therefore, more maps for comparison:

August-September 2009

June 2010

August-September 2012
Large zigzag on the last card is the search for a good ice of the North Pole-40.


Wow, that's impressive. Thanks, Veritascatch. Looks like Yamal should indeed not have come much later.

For others wanting to view that image: right-click it and pick "view image".

Edit: I've added it to the post. Thanks again, Veritascatch. Good catch of veritas you have there. :-)


... and that was supposed to be sturdy, multi-year ice.

Extent may be greater than previous years recently, but so far I think we're seeing considerably more exposed water inside of it.

Eli Rabett

WRT bubbles, why yes, they help, esp underwater with submarines but also with hulls




Well done indeed.

Since this thread has suddenly burst in to life again, I thought I'd just point out that Aleksander Frolov, head of the Russian Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring Agency, said recently that they will stop placing research stations on natural ice floes:

Satellite images show that there is very little multi-year ice left in the Arctic Basin. The last floating stations have been placed far from the Russian sector of the Arctic, almost in the Canadian sector. At our side there is practically no ice.

Meanwhile ice mass balance buoy 2012G that was on the same floe with NP-40 is still transmitting, albeit now from Canadian waters:


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