The field work portion of the CODA project is coming to an end. After years of planning and preparations dotted with short trips to Alaska, a month in the Arctic last fall, and the bundle of chaos that defined science research (and the rest of life) this year, the CODA science team is headed home.
Every stage of this year’s trip was enveloped in uncertainty. The start and end dates were fluid, the team size shriveled from dozens to a handful, the virus could have brought the guillotine down on the whole thing at any moment. The trip included Covid tests and quarantines and travel restrictions and extra-long transit times. For two weeks of science, the team was away from home for 47 days.
Even the work itself was shrouded with uncertainty. The goal was to retrieve moorings that have been hanging out on the sea floor off the icy coast of Alaska for nearly a year. There were any number of reasons why the moorings could evade rescue.
And so, it is with satisfaction and even more relief that the team disembarks the Sikuliaq this weekend and makes their way home. While they did not retrieve all of the moorings (about half of them were either dragged away by ice or refused to be contacted), they were able to capture enough data to confidently add understanding to want is happening in the icy arctic world of wind and waves.
The glamorous field work might be coming to an end, but for the team the fun is far from over. Now it’s time to process and analyze the data, to slice and dice it a hundred different ways to find trends and propose answers and uncover more questions. Then nestle their findings into the broader climactic context of what is going on at our poles and how it impacts us all.