Monday, February 22, 2010
When these ice shelves break up, the glaciers behind it accelerate and start dumping a lot more ice into the ocean. The Flask Glacier, where we were two weeks ago, is expected to react strongly when the Scar Inlet disappears. This is likely to happen in the next few years, because the ice shelf is already quite fractured.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Palmer Station had the idea that we could use another ship, the Laurence
M Gould, to get back. The Gould was just waiting at Palmer. So the five
of us got a taxi ride, and the two NSF Antarctic vessels met up in
Andvord Bay for a nice evening rendez vous.
Friday, February 19, 2010
Palmer station is mainly devoted to biology and oceanography, so we are a bit different with our interest in ice. But we have been treated like kings. The food is great, last night we had a hot tub, and today we got a boat tour to a penguin rookery.
It is late season for penguins, and most have left the island by now and are out at sea again. But there are a few stragglers who are still waiting to finish molting and will head out to sea for fresh food as soon as their coat is fresh.
The current plan is that we will rejoin the ship tomorrow and do some helicopter work from there.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
We stepped on a small island (Lagoon Island) that has a little refuge cabin. The island is densely populated with seals and skuas. Skuas are the ravens of the southern hemisphere. They are smart birds, but very ferocious. As I walked up a little outcrop, two of them took off and started dive bombing me, coming within centimeters of my head. This is quite impressive, as they are big birds (about the same size as a raven).
The whole area around Rothera is populated by seals of many kinds. We didn't see any of the Leopard Seals (also known as the wolves of the sea), but we did encounter many fur seals, some crabeaters, and elephant seals.
Fur seals are fun to watch. They behave a bit like dogs with frequent playing and fighting and barking.
The elephant seals are not very active. They are molting right now and basically just waiting for their new fur to grow. Basically they resemble giant farting and belching sausages.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
By the next day, the view changed to mostly white, a common theme for the following two weeks. Here is our camp:
The weather had changed too quickly to bring out the GPS installation, so we didn't have much of our equipment. However, we did manage to tow a radar across the glacier to measure how deep the glacier is. Erin is trying to navigate without much visual reference. I am dragging another sled with the radar receiver and computer behind me.
About a week later, the weather broke and we were treated to two beautiful days, and for the first time this field season, I saw a nice moon rise. This made me think of Sonja who promised to send kisses to the moon for me. So I sent one too.
This weather wasn't there to stay though. It took another week before we had flying days again and last Saturday we made it to the adjacent Leppard Glacier, and on Sunday to our final destination at Scar Inlet. This is the last remainder of the Larsen B ice shelf. It will also disintegrate in the next few years, and then the glaciers behind it will start flowing much faster. We are now well positioned to measure and document this change.
Now we are back in Rothera, hoping to rejoin the ship via a flight to Palmer Station.