journal tabs

Journal
Lesley Urasky's picture

Well, now that we've been stuck here at our Mt. Hope camp because of weather, I'm running out of things to write about. So, this will mainly be a photo journal about patterns in the snow and ice. Amazingly, on sunny days, a common sound in Antarctica is that of running water. While the temperatures may not seem warm enough, with 24-hours of sunlight, the sun's rays on dark-colored rocks can raise their temperatures into the 40s Fahrenheit. If you look out across the landscape, you can actually see the shimmers of heat waves rising above larger rocks. Due to the fact that these rocks are in contact with snow and ice, there is quite a significant amount of melting that goes on around their margins. Here on Mt. Hope, we have not had to melt ice or snow to obtain our water; there are several small melt ponds near by and we only have to scoop the water up.

Hoar frost coating the helicopter sling.Thick layer of hoar frost coating the helicopter sling at Mt. Kyffin.

View from Mt. Kyffin as fog lifts.View from our camp on Mt. Kyffin after the fog lifted. You can see the remnants of the fog low in the valley and the hoar frost coating the rocks.

Ice bubbles in a frozen melt pond.Ice bubbles in a frozen melt pond. I liked how they streamed outward from some of the larger bubbles.

When the weather does take a turn for the worse, when the sun is covered by clouds, it cools down substantially. This is when the water ceases to flow and re-freezes, often forming some amazing patterns. When the weather was very foggy, we had hoar frost growing on all our camping equipment and it also formed on the rocks and snow. Melt ponds begin to freeze and the first ice crystals form on the surface. The deeper, more thoroughly frozen ponds formed slowly enough that air bubbles are trapped in their ice. All of this makes for some beautiful patterns that are very difficult to capture in photos. I've spent several hours attempting to photograph them, and have had a few of them turn out alright. (Unfortunately, when most of these crystals form, the lighting for photography is not optimal.)

Naturally formed snow sculpture.Naturally formed snow sculpture found on a snowfield on Mt. Kyffin. I thought it looked like a Moray eel sticking his head out of a crevice in the rocks.

Thin ice layer over rocks.A thin layer of ice over some rocks. If you watched it long enough you could see the occasional drip falling off the sunlit point.

Delicate crystals of hoar frost on sun-cupped snowfields.Delicate crystals of hoar frost on sun-cupped snowfields. These were difficult to photograph because the slightest vibration nearby would cause them to crumble.