New Year’s Eve onboard the RV Polarstern

Over the last few days, a sense of excitement was building up amongst the crew and scientists of the RV Polarstern. With every minute, New Year’s Eve came closer, and with every nautical mile, we came closer to the 60°S latitude mark, the official border of the Antarctic territory. But the most thrilling event was The Bet, the bet on the iceberg, about when we will encounter our first iceberg, a floating mass of ice which had ones belong to the Antarctic ice sheet, a massive chunk of calved ice about nine times larger below the surface of the ocean than above it. Rules were strict, the iceberg had to have a surface area of at least 25 by 25 meters and one should provide photographical evidence. Bets ranged from as early as December 28th until January 8th. In the morning of December 31st, at 6.55am, The Bet was over, the first iceberg meeting The Bet’s requirements was seen along the horizon by the nautical officer on the bridge. The winner was Lena, a master student of the marine geology team, and her bet was only off by 19 minutes! Later that same day, another iceberg passed our ship, this time carrying its own passengers, a small group of Chinstrap penguins. On New Year’s Eve, Lena was honored as she received the 3D printed iceberg medal, having the exact same shape of the spotted iceberg. The year 2022 counts down and 2023’s arrival was celebrated by crew and scientist on the bridge, and one hour later repeated in the engine control room, as our southwestward travels required us to turn back our clock by one hour. The lack of fireworks was replaced by dozens of Humpback whales blowing around the ship. Although the whales’ timing was off by a couple of hours, all PS134 participants are now ready to head into a new year.

Iceberg carrying a small group of Chinstrap penguins. Credits: Christian Rohleder.
One of the Chinstrap penguins passing the RV Polarstern. Credits: Christian Rohleder.
Lena with her iceberg medal.

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