A Swedish icebreaker on the way to the North Pole has encountered heavy ice conditions and had to stop just before the North Pole.
The Swedish icebreaker Oden embarked to the North Pole from Svalbard last week but encountered difficult ice conditions not seen in one and a half decades.
The captain of the Oden icebreaker described the ice conditions as the most difficult in the past fifteen years.
The pack ice the ship encountered north of 80° was very dense, piled together through a months-long northward ice drift in the Central Arctic Ocean, meereisportal.de reports.
Overall, however, the Arctic’s summer sea ice extent is again very small; the Oden hit the ice edge only at 82°N.
Destination in jeopardy
The dense ice pack left hardly any patches of open water for the ship to navigate between the massive ice floes. The crew and researchers were thus faced with the situation that the North Pole could possibly not be reached.
However, about 200 km before the Pole the situation improved with the Oden encountering younger, thinner ice and tracks of open ice left by a Russian icebreaker plowing the area a few days before.
Massive ice floe blocks North Pole
About four miles away from the North Pole, the Oden eventually had to stop its journey since a massive ice flow on the top of the Pole prevented the onward journey, meereisportal.de reports.
However, the researchers managed to find a suitable ice floe for their studies, which they will conduct in the High Arctic for the next few weeks.