March 2007 : Tara has made it more north than the Fram!
Published on 10.04.2007 - Tara Arctic
The men aboard Tara have gone though exciting moments during the month of March: the reappearance of the sun, in particular, and the northernmost latitude a ship other than an ice-breaker has ever reached, 84° 404 N.
Tara takes advantage of it being the 1st of March to remind everyone of the opening of the International Polar Year in the "Palais de la Décourte" in Paris, while they are out there, alone on the sea ice, to study climate change and supply the data banks of 46 research laboratories grouped under the denomination of DAMOCLES (Developing Arctic Modelling and Observing Capabilities for Long-term Environmental Studies).
At the same time this worldwide event is going on, Tara and her crew celebrate their accomplishment of having reached on March 5th 2007, after 6 months of drift, the 86th degree, overtaking thereby Nansen's and the Fram's northernmost position! They went on until point 76° 40' N!
Talking about wintering and drifting, the writers on board take advantage of these events to briefly remind everyone of the epic on the Russian ship, an oceanographic ship forced to winter twice because it was caught up in the sea ice, which had reached point 86° 39' N. This was in 1937 and, according to the press release, already at this time, the scientists whom had remained on board in order to pursue the most observations possible, had noticed that the ice thickness had already diminished, compared to the data Fransen had noted in his logbook.
Another big moment was when the first sun rays reappeared, after 141 days of complete polar darkness. Denys writes on March 8th: "Our days are truly different since the sunlight has been shining our way for 12 hours a day. Working out on the sea ice becomes an exceptional pleasure when the horizon is glowing red and that there is no obstacle intruding on the propagation of this light. One must imagine a sunrise which lasts for hours and which illuminates the horizon across almost a fourth of the circumference in an utterly pure environment. It is like seeing the magic of colours after having lived six months in black and white. The entire crew has regained its enthusiasm in preparing Tara and the camp for the arrival of the next team beginning of April; this beneficial light has played an important role."
Around the end of the month, the men were busy looking for a good ice patch to transform as well as possible into a landing runway, being that the relief team has already arrived in Lonhyearbyen (in Spitzberg) and that they are waiting for more favourable weather to join the French sloop.