Number Eleven! It's the ocean episode. As we finally enter the last leg of the MOSAiC expedition, we get to talk to Zoe Koenig who is an Arctic physical oceanographer at the University of Bergen and the Norwegian Polar Institute in Tromsø. Zoe was leading team Ocean during leg 5 which clearly differed from the previous ones as the original MOSAiC ice floe had disintegrated and Polarstern now was looking for a new home.
Zoe always had a close relation to the ocean as she grew up in Brittany and spent her childhood's vacation sailing with the family off the French coasts. So the ocean has always been her special place of freedom, and even for some people it is just a blue out of the blue, she will always find a different shade of blue. The white is adding to the blue in the Arctic where the sea ice cover calms down the ocean moving; it's the quietness that fascinates Zoe.
This wasn't Zoe's first time drifting in the Arctic – during her PhD, she joined the Norwegian Young Sea Ice Experiment N-ICE on board the vessel Lance. And so she brought all her experience on how to measure the speed of the ocean, its temperature, and how salty it is into MOSAiC. Team Ocean was a small but busy team. To make sure no one gets bored by taking the same measurements over and over, Zoe introduced a rotating system so that everyone could run the different instruments. While they only built a light version of the previous ice camp during the last leg, Zoe and her team still had to work hard to maintain from refreezing the various holes in the ice to plunge the ocean instruments.
Polarstern had a shortage of cheese and chocolate during the last part of the cruise but Zoe and her team made it back healthy and in time to be heartily welcomed in Bremerhaven in October last year. But, sadly, the pandemic was still ongoing and it felt odd to come back to a world of people hidden behind masks and with no hugs.
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