Latitude: 76.48 Longitude: 161.53 Temperature: -3.5 degrees C Wind chill: -13.3 degrees C
The skies are clouding up this morning. We've gotten spoiled by the sunny days we've been enjoying. The wind has certainly calmed down, making it feel warmer. There is several work stations planned over the next couple of days as we make our way through the Ross Sea. We were supposed to be in open water this morning, but there is ice that varies in size scattered all around us for miles. The sea can change quite rapidly, and plans have to be adjusted accordingly. Interestingly, no one could tell me if we were at the Ross Sea or not. We have followed a zigzag route, and without street signs, it's hard to tell!
The day was not a good day for ice stations. The first stop was on a very large ice floe. A team was assembled and transported onto a very large floe. I was on deck documenting the work and looked down the side of the floe. From my vantage point it looked like a very serious and deep ice floe. Turns out it was! The team took turns shoveling snow to a depth of about 1.5 meters, and still no ice. Then they tried to core through the snow and all they got was more snow! They finally settled on samples of snow scraped from the side of the pit! While all the shoveling was going on, the large chunks of snow were used to build the only igloo these seas have ever seen J. Before they left the site, they filled in the large pit they had dug just in case a penguin "dropped by".
Bottomless Snow There is no end to the snow here!!*
Igloo for Rent
Are you sure this is the way it's done?? (pictured: Agneta, Rebecca and Cecilia)
Largest group seen so far!
Later in the day, during a CTD cast, the ice team tried again. This time they didn't even begin shoveling. Soon after they had been carried over to the snow in the basket, a crew member alerted the bridge and the team that we were drifting away from the floe! They immediately threw the equipment into the basket and were quickly brought back. No further attempts were made!
Just in the Nick of Time Just in the nick of time!!
A work station was planned for waters near the Ross Ice Shelf last night. Along the way we saw many Emperor penguins. It amazes me to watch them watching us. As we passed a group, I waved at them, and one of the penguins flapped his flippers. Henrik was standing next to me when I said, "Hey, he's waving back!" He matter-of-factly stated that penguins fan themselves when they are too warm. OK, but this one was waving back!
* Largest group seen so far!*
Around 9:30 last night I was sitting next to an open window in the cabin. Suddenly a frigid blast of air hit my back. We were at the ice shelf!! (Lat: 78? 20.15, Long: 161?.56.51) I scrambled up to the bridge where a group was already taking pictures. Imagine an ice wall spanning the entire horizon around you, standing an estimated 50-60 meters high!
Ross ice shelf This is only one very small part!*
There is no way to get it all in one picture. We were stopped here for several hours while the CTD and plankton net were cast. Rob was also sampling, so we had plenty of time for photos, filming, and just trying to take in the enormity of this ice shelf. It was well after near 1AM when the work was finished. Next stop: the Bay of Whales, sometime around 6AM.