Polar bears – or reason #7691 for why it is great to be an oceanographer

Polar bear photos from a cruise last year. Just because.

Imagine you are on a research ship somewhere in the Greenland Sea. You are, as you have been for the previous days and weeks, standing in your lab, titrating oxygen. While you are rinsing bottles, you look out of the lab’s window. Your thoughts wander. You notice a little head swimming somewhere in the distance. You think “oh look, a polar bear!”.

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Can you spot the polar bear?
How about now?

On that cruise we were really lucky – we got to see a couple more polar bears over the next days, and at some point even two at the same time, meeting for the delicious dinner below.

Polar bear dinner.

So yes. Is there any job in the world that could be more awesome?

Internal waves in the atmosphere

A photo of internal waves in the atmosphere.

Internal waves exist on the interface between fluids of different densities. In the ocean they are mostly observed through their surface imprint. In the tank, we could also observe them by looking in from the side, but this is hardly feasible in the ocean. But luckily vision is easier in the atmosphere than in the ocean.

On our research cruise on the RRS James Clark Ross in August 2012, we were lucky enough to observe atmospheric internal waves, and even breaking ones (see image above). This is quite a rare sight, and a very spectacular one, especially since, due to the low density contrast between the two layers, the waves break extremely slowly.

It is really hard to imagine what it looked like for real. This movie shows the view of Jan Mayen – the volcano, the rest of the island and then the atmospheric waves. Please excuse the wobbly camera – we were after all on a ship and I was too excited to stabilize properly.