Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Southern Patagonian Icefield from cruise altitude

One thing about doing field work in Antarctica is that, when you think you're all done, you have upwards of a week just to get home. Two days ago we got off the ship in Punta Arenas, Chile, and now we are on the way back to Alaska. One small perk of this long flight is that we happened to fly on one of those rare good weather days and I had a window seat. So here are some pictures of the Southern Patagonian Icefield:





Monday, December 14, 2015

Some impressions of Andvord Bay and Gerlache Strait

Recently we've had some amazing weather, so the true beauty of this area was revealed. We worked all night yesterday, fixing a weather station and retrieving an autonomous glider that's been going up and down the water for the last several days. Below are a few pictures from that glorious night.


Anvers Island

The obligatory Gentoo Penguin

And for the fluid dynamics geek: Probably the most beautiful example of a Kelvin-Helmholtz instability that I've come across


Monday, December 7, 2015

One more glacier camera

Yesterday we installed the second glacier camera for this project. The day could not have been more different. Instead of sunshine we had almost continuous downpour. We did find a nice site though, under slightly overhanging bedrock, which affords us with a nice view of the other fjord arm.

View of the Laurence M Gould from our camera site.

View into the fjord

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Glacier timelapse

We put up a glacier timelapse camera today. That was a pretty spectacular undertaking, because the fjord walls here are so steep with many hanging glaciers and big cornices. We found one ridge that is safe and successfully installed a camera today. We got lucky with weather, this was the first blue sky day since we've left Punta Arenas.
Hanging glaciers on steep fjord walls

The LM Gould from our camera site

The glacier camera

... and two happy oceanographers, on land for once

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Oceanographic moorings

As part of this project we put in several oceanographic moorings to measure various physical parameters over the next one and a half years. The moorings consist of a railroad wheel that acts as an anchor, an acoustic release, various instruments to measure things like salinity, temperature and water flow, and a big submerged buoy to avoid the ice bergs on top. Deploying such moorings in waters full of ice is quite exciting, and we're happy that it all went well. Now we hope all instruments are recording, so that at the end of the next Antarctic summer we can recover and download the instruments.

The mooring team (plus me who gave moral support)

Some nice wind clouds

Penguins on an ice berg

Putting the mooring together, as it is lowered into the ocean, piece by piece

A nice sun-lit ice berg

Detail of a highly crevassed ice berg



Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Arrived at Palmer Station

We arrived at Palmer station where the ship will remain for two days to offload some passengers and cargo. We took this opportunity to break out our skis and climbing gear and visit the local glacier, which consists only of a small icecap.

Palmer Station
A nice blue iceberg in the Neumayer Channel, near Palmer Station

Team 'Terrific' goes skiing ....

On the way to the Antarctic Peninsula

We are starting a new research program on the western Antarctic Peninsula, looking at the biological productivity in glacial fjords. It brings me back to a place we visited almost 6 years ago with spectacular scenery, lots of wildlife, and beautiful glaciers. But getting to the Peninsula means crossing the famous Drake Passage with its storms and big seas on an icebreaker. Luckily for us, the crossing turned out to be relatively calm, and we are now heading for Palmer Station to offload some gear and passengers. After that we'll be on the ship (the Laurence M Gould) for about a month doing mostly oceanography and putting out some timelapse cameras and weather stations.

Leaving Punta Arenas (Chile) with one day delay.
Our first snow storm

... and our first big ice bergs, just before it got dark.