Kara Winter 2015 blog

Kara Winter 2015 blog

The Arctic blog of our contest #ГеройДостойныйАрктики winner Ekaterina Zaitseva, who takes part in the expedition “Kara-Winter 2015”.

June 13, 2015

The expedition members are happy to come back home soon and at the same time sad because the journey is coming to an end.

Yamal is confidently moving South across the Barents Sea. Kara-Winter-2015 has become the biggest Arctic expedition in the last 20 years.



June 12, 2015

75°46′N 66°55′E

The meeting with a landlord of the Arctic – a polar bear – concludes the expedition field work.






June 11, 2015

77°29′N 82°30′E

After numerous attempts, started back in May, weather conditions finally let us visit Uyedineniya Island. The polar station, abandoned more than twenty years ago, now is not only a home for sea gulls, but also a shelter for polar bears.



June 9, 2015

80°40′N 54°50′E

Franz Josef Land.






June 6, 2015

73°30′N 80°31′E

Dikson. Summer has come to the northernmost settlement in Russia, and Spring – to our hearts.



June 4, 2015

77°18′N 81°52′E

Human fragility and the Arctic power are depicted in these photos. But the key point is the true heroism of people that are ready to go out on the ice in all weather conditions. 



June 1, 2015

76°56′N 99°41′E

The first day of Summer!



May 22, 2015

79°39′N 99°02′E

Ice caps Rusanov and Karpinsky, October Revolution Island.



May 21, 2015

79°21′N 101°52′E

True Polar explorer day!

We pay a festive visit to the polar station Cape Baranov.







May 20, 3015

77°50′N 105°35′E

Along the icebergs to Severnaya Zemlya.




May 11, 2015

77°06′N 156°30′E

The northernmost island in the East Siberian Sea - Henrietta Island. Seems like the time has stopped here too. But more than half a century has passed since that. 






May 10, 2015

76°09′N 152°43′E

Abandoned in 1993 polar station on Zhokhov Island. Looks like a person, who was living here, simply disappeared. He didn’t make his bed and left a plate with a spoon on a table after the dinner. Though a bear had time to establish its own order there. 







May 9, 2015

77°07'N 149°26'E

In honor of the great holiday – Victory Day – the expedition members and crew hold football match after work. The friendship won. 




May 7, 2015

77°15′N 148°05′E

We finally go on the ice ground and get back to work.


May 6, 2015

76°39′N 137°99′E -18°C

The end of Yamal’s pilotage.



May 1, 2015

76°49′N 97°60′E

As on any holiday everyone is greeted with a present at Yamal’s canteen. Today we get coffee and a box of chocolate as well as caviar sandwich for breakfast. 


April 30, 2015

76°27′N 94°53′E

Waiting for the end of pilotage we get to see more of Yamal’s inside and have a more detailed lecture about polar bears. 




April 29, 2015

76°20'N 92°13'E -20°С

From Tolstoy to Tolkien, it seems like you can find any book at Yamal’s library.


April 26, 2015

76°50'N 70°13'E  -19°C

Works at the East Prinovozemelsk licensed blocks of Rosneft in the South-West part of the Kara Sea are completed.

One third of the expedition is over.

Yamal, navigating other vessels, aims at Laptev Sea.

The temperature goes down as we move to the North-East, the sun stays with us all day long.

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April 25, 2015

75°85'N 68°02'E -20°C

Preventive works were conducted at the meteorological station in the area of the Ice Harbor cape at the Eastern Shore of North Island. It is the place of Barents expedition wintering in 1596-1597.

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April 23-24, 2015

75°44'N 67°34'E -2С'

Crazy wind gusting to 28 meters per second gives no chance to conduct work. The waiting is brightened only by a marvelous polar guest that visits us repeatedly.  

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April 22, 2015

75°30'N 65°02'E -12С°

We meet ice blocks for the first time.

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April 21, 2015

75°18'N 64°39'E  -11С°

The flight to Opasny cape and Blagopoluchiya gulf was taken. Specialists conducted preventive works at the meteorological station, placed at the old wooden lighthouse with traces of bears and arctic fox all around. The first satellite collar was put on a female polar bear.

At the same time I was working in a physics of ice group with Vladimir Aleksandrovich Borodkin. He has been studying structure and physical qualities of sea ice since 1987.

We drilled out ice cores. First of all measured the ice temperature at different thickness, temperature of the air, water and thickness of the snow. After that we measured ice density. The second ice core was used to measure the local solidity of ice with the help of special press, which was developed and applied even in the sixties. Core is cut up at slices thinner than 2 cm, solidness of each slice is tested. These slices are also used to measure the level of saltiness. The third core is cut into lengthwise slices, looking at them one can see textural ice drawing comprised of different ornaments made of air and salt.

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April 19, 2015

74°55'N 69°40'E -6C  

The Arctic makes you understand that patience here is highly valued here. The fog was completely gone by the morning – it seemed absolutely impossible yesterday.

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April 18, 2015

74°55'N 69°35'E   -11С°

Visibility is less than 100 meters due to the Yenisei Gulf. Hour after hour we wait for defogging. So goes the whole day.

During the evening meeting members of the expedition announced that they were ready to go to the ice even at night, if only the weather would be better.  

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April 17, 2015

75°20'N 67°01'E -10С° 

This amazing morning a polar bear was found on the yesterday’s trail while we were searching for a new ice station placement. Another bear with a cub was noticed during the morning exploration.

Polar bears study is among the main goals of Kara Winter expedition, organized by Rosneft. Biologists tool bear’s blood, coating and fat samples in order to determine family relationship of the studied animals.

The plan of work was completed; all experimental works for today were carried out successfully. Physicists tested the ice hardness, measured   thickness, density, temperature and saltiness. It is about time to drink some hot tea.

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April 16, 2015

75°20'N 67°02'E   -9С°               

The place of the next ice station is changed due to the danger of a polar bear that wonders around.

The launch of the first drone tool place. However, emergency landing was made due to the icing. Operators investigate the reasons to understand the specifics of the Arctic conditions clearly.

Marine mammals observer noticed another polar bear 3 km away from the icebreaker. Emergency evacuation from the ice was conducted.

Helicopter exploration didn’t find either the bear or its traces due to the poor visibility.

We stay here until morning.

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April 15, 2015

74°38'N 66°15'E   -5С° 

Long-awaited absence of wind, captivating sun.

A drone slowly but surely was prepared, however, it didn’t take off.

While every member of the expedition was working hard, I tasted soft, melting in the mouth, cool and powdery Arctic snow.     

The evening meeting is cancelled so that everyone can see the process of strain gauge measurements: an experiment when icebreaker Yamal confidently breaks huge hummock.

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April 14, 2015

73°29'N 61°03'E   -3С°

There are rumors that Yamals’ shark mouth was created by the chief mate and boatswain. They were Rambo fans and were inspired by the helicopter from the favorite movie.

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April 13, 2015    

73°29'N 61°03'E   -3С°

Ice station №2

All operations were stopped due to the crack nearby the unloading.

Despite the fact that risk is an essential part of work for people who dedicated their lives to the Arctic, it was decided to evacuate expedition members to the board.

Severe climatic conditions, specific nature of work and usage of expensive equipment require strict observance of safety rules.

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April 12, 2015      

72°52'N 60°50'E   -3С° 

Sunday, bright Easter holiday and the first time going to the ice.

For some people it is the first time in their entire lives. But it is a usual thing here to work on the day off. People live here without time. Schedule and working hours here are under the command of weather conditions. The light time of the day is increasing each day

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April 11, 2015   

72°52'N 57°48'E   -2С°

The weather is non-flying. Wet snow is falling. Helicopter take off is postponed by one hour or more. The first exploration happens only towards evening.

There is a flight to the southern island of Novaya Zemlya archipelago. Several reindeer herds and polar bear with  a cup were met during the flight.

The first refutation of the myth that there are no women.

Aleksandra, marine mammal observer, looks after the animals.

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April 10, 2015    

70°68'N 58°45'E   -5С°

After breakfast there is a meeting about safety and behavior when meeting polar bears, after dinner we get to see helicopter ka-32 and get instructions from squadron.

For the first time we enter the area of the Kara Sea ice fields. 

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April 9, 2015     

69°92'N 44°26'E -1°С

With the speed in 14 knots Yamal like a mysterious creature gets closer to the Kara Gates. We are surrounded by the first ice floes and harp seals.

Round the clock observations of birds and mammals have started. Swallows, minke whales, walruses and the first polar bear were noticed on the horizon.

Ship meteorological station was placed.

Everyday expeditions meetings have started, summarizing passed day and discussing plans for the next day.




April 8, 2015   

69°25'N 33°54'E   0°С

Icebreaker Yamal is leaving Murmansk port and bravely goes to the Arctic through the cold Barents Sea. Long-awaited expedition Kara Winter 2015 has started under the flag of Rosneft.

52 participants and 139 crew members will spend their Spring and meet the Summer in the Arctic Sea.

There will be ice stations, helicopter explorations, meteostations meteorological stations service, fauna observations.

To my luck, special attention will be paid to the study of polar bears along the rout.




April 7, 2015

Misty morning landscape of Kola Bay. It seems like time has stopped in this silence.

But here, on the board of Yamal icebreaker, everyone is getting ready to go to sea without any loss of time. There are only few hours left.