Here’s what we’re reading in the Arctic

By Chelsea Harvey | 10/11/2019 06:57 AM EDT

Six weeks away from home is a long time.

Reporter Chelsea Harvey in front of the Russian research vessel Akademik Fedorov in Tromsø, Norway.

Reporter Chelsea Harvey in front of the Russian research vessel Akademik Fedorov in Tromsø, Norway. Shannon Hall

Six weeks away from home is a long time.

It’s even longer without the luxury of internet, Netflix or Seamless at your disposal. With that in mind, most of us brought our own creature comforts on the MOSAiC Expedition into the Arctic. Quarters are tight on the Akademik Fedorov
, a Russian research vessel that’s supporting the mission’s main ship, the Polarstern,
a German icebreaker. But there’s enough room for essentials.

I caught up with some of the expedition crew members to ask what they brought along for the long voyage by sea.


Arctic reading list

Scientific journal articles and textbooks were probably the most common reading materials. If you’re a researcher on a climate expedition, that’s probably the way to go. But I left those out of this list. Here are some other titles:

  • "Where the Crawdads Sing," by Delia Owens — Chelsea Harvey, reporter, E&E News.
  • "The Goldfinch," by Donna Tartt — Lisa Craw, student, MOSAiC School.
  • "The Circle," by Dave Eggers — Jan Rohde, researcher, Alfred Wegener Institute.
  • "Ideas: A History of Thought and Invention, From Fire to Freud," by Peter Watson — Marc Oggier, researcher, University of Alaska, Fairbanks.
  • "Mindhunter," by John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker — Ewa Korejwa, student, MOSAiC School.
  • "The Handmaid’s Tale," by Margaret Atwood — Sam Cornish, student, MOSAiC School.
  • "Alias Grace," by Margaret Atwood and "The Terranauts," by T.C. Boyle — Katharina Weiss, communications, Alfred Wegener Institute.
  • "Persuasion," by Jane Austen — Ravenna Koenig, radio reporter, freelance/NPR.
  • "House of Spies," by Daniel Silva — Neil Aellen, student, MOSAiC School.
  • "Demian," by Hermann Hesse — Igor Vasilevich, student, MOSAiC School.
  • "Farthest North," by Fridtjof Nansen and "With Nansen in the North," by Hjalmar Johansen — Sandro Dahlke, researcher, Alfred Wegener Institute.
  • "Gorilla and the Bird," by Zack McDermott — Ian Raphael, researcher, Dartmouth College.

Arctic recipe book

Snacks are by far the hottest commodity at sea. We’re well fed here on the Akademik Fedorov, but there are a few luxury items that you just can’t get once you leave shore. Real coffee is the one everyone seems to miss the most.

Veteran travelers advised us in advance to bring something nice, like good chocolate, for trading purposes. (I envisioned a kind of high-seas black market while I was grocery shopping for this trip.) And at least one contributor to this list joked that he hoped no one on board would see this story, or they’d all come knocking on his door asking to share his stash.

  • Spiced tea — Chelsea Harvey, reporter, E&E News.
  • Chocolate — Ying-Chih Fang, researcher, Alfred Wegener Institute.
  • Gummy bears — Andrew Davies, engineer, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.
  • Polish chocolate — Ewa Korejwa, student, MOSAiC School.
  • More than 100 pounds of vegan food and supplements — Dave Costa, engineer, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (University of Colorado).
  • Fried corn kernels — Jakob Belter, researcher, Alfred Wegener Institute.
  • Electric mocha machine and Italian coffee — Nikolaus von Schlebrujje, filmmaker.
  • Yerba maté and Ragusa — Marc Oggier, researcher, University of Alaska, Fairbanks.
  • Maltesers, milk bottles — Daisy Dunne, reporter, Carbon Brief.
  • Peanut butter and fluff cookies — Chris Basque, engineer, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.
  • Hot chocolate — Tatiana Matveeva, student, MOSAiC School.
  • Starbucks latte packets, Reese’s peanut butter cups — Rosalie McKay, student, MOSAiC School.

Arctic theater

Movie nights are possible on the Akademik Fedorov, thanks to a projector on board. We keep a list of suggestions posted in the hallway, based on the films we’ve all brought with us, and vote to decide on viewings. ("The Blue Planet"
documentaries have the most votes as I’m typing out this list — not surprising for a ship full of scientists!)

  • "Interstellar."
  • "Contact."
  • "Batman Begins."
  • "Baby Driver."
  • "Green Book."
  • "Deadpool."
  • "Dallas Buyers Club."
  • "Pulp Fiction."
  • "The Big Lebowski."
  • "The Blue Planet" documentaries.
  • "Life Is Beautiful."
  • "Ovosodo."
  • "Blade Runner."
  • "La La Land."
  • "Harry Potter" (films 1-4).
  • "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World."
  • "Belle du Jour."
  • "Hot Fuzz."
  • "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."
  • "Pan’s Labyrinth."
  • "Slumdog Millionaire."
  • "The Hangover."
  • "Waltz With Bashir."
  • "Body of Lies."
  • "Evita."
  • "The Bourne Identity."
  • "V for Vendetta."