Rauschenberg aboard historic North Pole crossing


Sara Rauschenberg, a research associate at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, was onboard the US Coast Guard Cutter Healy when it arrived at the North Pole on September 5, 2015, the first U.S. surface ship to do so unaccompanied. This was only the fourth time a U.S. surface ship reached the North pole, and the first since 2005.

Rauschenberg, a Nobleboro resident, works in Dr. Ben Twining's Laboratory at Bigelow Laboratory and is aboard the Healy for 65 days, collecting particulate trace metal samples from the Bering Sea up to the North Pole. She reports that Santa Claus even showed up for a photo opp. (We were awaiting a picture, which never came, but didn't want the news to get any older so are sharing it with you now).

Healy's crew and science party, totaling 145 people, departed Dutch Harbor, Alaska Aug. 9, in support of GEOTRACES, an historic, international effort to study the geochemistry of the world's oceans. This National Science Foundation funded scientific expedition, with a diverse team from multiple scientific institutions is focused on studying the Arctic Ocean to meet a number of scientific goals, including the creation of a baseline of measurements for future comparisons.

The United States is an Arctic Nation and the Coast Guard has operated in the Arctic since the 1860s. Reaching the North Pole serves as a testament to the Coast Guard's continued ability to provide access and presence throughout this increasingly important and operationally challenging region of the world.

Healy is the United States premier high latitude vessel. She is a 420-foot, 16,000 ton, 30,000-horsepower icebreaker, capable of breaking over ten feet of ice. In addition to performing the Coast Guard's other statutory missions such as law enforcement and search and rescue, Healy is a research platform with extensive laboratory spaces, multiple oceanographic deck winches, and berthing for 50 scientists.

As the Arctic region continues to open up to development, the data onboard Healy during this cruise, as well as the Coast Guard's ability to maintain access and presence in the Arctic, will become ever more essential to understanding how the scientific processes of the Arctic work, and how to most responsibly exercise stewardship over the region.