Sunday, January 24, 2010

January 24: One station done

I remain the only glaciology member on the ship. Everybody else is at an ice core camp, which is about 20 km away from here. This is a somewhat unusual situation for me, as I usually try to be among the first ones out to a field site. Ted, Erin, Terry, and Ron installed an AMIGOS (Automated Meteorological Ice-Geophysics Observation System) and did some radar work see how deep the ice is and to look at layers in the ice. The ice core camp is run by Ellen Mosley-Thomson of Ohio State University and they are using the ice core to look at past climate in this part of Antarctica. We got one flight in early in the morning; and I already sat in the helicopter with rotors turning to take off on a reconnaissance flight. But once again, the weather closed in, and there was no more flying for the day.

The variability of the weather is amazing. I took the attached picture last night before going to bed, when several whales showed up right by the ship. We had a beautiful sunset with severe clear skies. Only 20 km away, the ice core camp was in a total whiteout.

While we were waiting for the other glaciologists to return, the marine science continues. We surveyed the entire Barilari Bay, which was previously unmapped. This is done via a so-called multibeam survey, where sound waves are used to map the bottom. The results are amazing. One can see where glaciers used to carve the bottom of the ocean, and where they have been digging deep marine basins. Marine geologists take cores and try to date them, because the retreat of the glaciers leaves clear signs in the ocean sediments.

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