SIMBA Antarctic Sea Ice Journals

Location: Punta Arenas, Chile      Two months ago as I was moving my things into my room on the Palmer I remember thinking I was the luckiest person in the world. Today, two months later and my last day on the Palmer, I am the most grateful. Twenty years ago when I started my teaching career I never dreamed it would take me to Antarctica. I never imagined that I’d be peeking over the shoulders of world class scientists doing ground-breaking work in polar science. I never envisioned seeing so many talented and hard-working people come together in spite of great adversity to achieve so many things. Teaching has truly taken me places! This journal entry doesn’t contain any photographs of cute penguins or seals, no tales of adventure, descriptions of things we’ve broken, coffee conundrums,...
Location: From the Drake Passage into the Strait of Magellan. Latitude: 53° 33′ S Longitude: **72° 28′ W **Air temperature: 4.5 °C (40.1 °F) Wind chill: -7.7 °C (18.4 °F) Wind speed: 15 to 20 knots Barometric pressure: 1004.6 mBar Antarctic trivia (answer at the end of this journal entry): Many nations conduct research in Antarctica and have permanent research facilities there. Which of these facilities is the largest?   What do milk, sugar, almonds, chocolate, coffee and excess liquid nitrogen have in common? Mixed together they make great ice cream! Apparently somewhat of a tradition on the Palmer, ice-cream making was undertaken recently by a group of conscientious employees thoughtfully putting excess liquid nitrogen to good use instead of wasting it. Chemical waste is a concern in...
Location: From Peter I Island to the Drake Passage.      Latitude: 60° 20′ S Longitude: 82° 30′ W Air temperature: 1.7 °C (35.1 °F) Wind chill: -13.7 °C (7.3 °F) Wind speed: 25 to 30 knots Water temperature: 3.7 °C (38.7 °F) Barometric pressure: 985.6 mBar ** Antarctic trivia** (answer at the end of this journal entry): 90% of the world’s ice is found in Antarctica. What portion of Earth’s fresh water does this represent? **   *In a polynya (an area of open water surrounded by ice) near Peter I Island. * Our planned route home from Ice Station Belgica included a stop at Peter I Island, an ice-covered volcanic island in the Bellingshausen Sea. We reached Peter I Island late on the 25th and stopped for the night. At sunrise we began a circumnavigation around the island so that Brent...
Location: In transit from Ice Station Belgica to Peter I Island.      Latitude: 69° 08′ S Longitude: **91° 18′ W **Air temperature: -10.8 °C (12.6 °F) Wind chill: - 29.7 °C (-21.5 °F) Wind speed: 18 to 22 knots Barometric pressure: 981.5 mBar **Antarctic trivia **(answer at the end of this journal entry): Leopard seals, named for the spots on their bellies, are a dominant predator in the Antarctic. Do they have any natural enemies?   Wednesday morning we said farewell and adieu to Ice Station Belgica, our home for the past 28 days. Mixed emotions are the rule; we are happy to be headed home again, but sad that our great adventure is coming to an end. We encountered heavy ice throughout the day – the Palmer is rated to break 3 feet of ice at 3 knots, but the going was slow through the...
Location: Ice Station Belgica Latitude: 70° 03′ S Longitude: 93° 59′ W Air temperature: -9.4 °C (15.1 °F) Wind chill: -24.1 °C (-11.4 °F) Wind speed: 13 – 15 knots Barometric pressure: 964.3 mBar Antarctic trivia (answer at the end of this journal entry): Ice fish, a unique group of Antarctic fish, have an interesting physiological adaptation. What is it? Our last two days at Ice Station Belgica were a whirlwind of activity as everyone wrapped up work and prepared for transit. The geophysics group finished final surveys of our three study areas while the Belgian-Canadian group finished their last round of data collection. We also ran overnight CTD and trace metal casts for our water-thirsty physical oceanographers. We sent a round of our decorated Styrofoam cups down with the CTD…here...
Location: Ice Station Belgica Latitude: 70° 02′ S Longitude: **93° 43′ W **Air temperature: -7.7 °C (18.4 °F) Wind speed: 5 to 10 knots Barometric pressure: 967.2 mBar Antarctic trivia (answer at the end of this journal entry): Fish that live in Antarctic waters need special adaptations to survive the harsh climate. What adaptation allows them to live in water that would otherwise freeze their blood and body tissues? Our friendly neighborhood iceberg hasn’t hit the Palmer or smashed our floe to bits. There hasn’t been another fire or hurricane-strength blizzard. It’s something worse. Jeroen discovered late last week that we are now out of instant coffee! First, let me tell you that coffee is a pretty important item around here. When you work outside all day coming in to a nice hot cup...
Location: Ice Station Belgica Latitude: 69° 89′ S Longitude: 93° 10′ W Antarctic trivia (answer at the end of this journal entry): The Titanic, though billed to be "unsinkable” sank in under three hours after hitting an iceberg in the North Atlantic on April 14, 1912. The iceberg wasn’t the only problem, however; do you know some of the other reasons so many people died on the ship’s maiden voyage? The Palmer and our new neighbor, a mammoth iceberg! Yesterday morning when I looked out my porthole I saw a pair of seals; today, a huge iceberg dominates my view! We continue to have numerous icebergs around us at Ice Station Belgica. The bridge monitors their location by radar - Steve checked the radar screen recently and noted more than 70 icebergs in a six nautical mile range. The...
Location: Ice Station Belgica Latitude: **69° 44′ S **Longitude: 92° 45′ W Air temperature: -2.2 °C (28 °F) Wind chill: **-21.4 °C (-6.5 °F) **Wind speed: 25 to 30 knots Barometric pressure: 966.3 mBar Relative humidity: 94.2% **Antarctic trivia **(answer at the end of this journal entry): Why do scientists go to Antarctica to study meteorites? A weather system moved in yesterday afternoon from north. Unlike the northern hemisphere, air masses moving in from the north are warm and wet. We’ve had mostly southerly winds (winds are named from the direction they originate) this past week which has given us dry, but cold conditions. The "norther” we’re experiencing now has made temperatures more comfortable (-2 °C) but brought in strong winds (up to 30 knots) and more humid conditions....
Latitude: 69° 30′ S Longitude: 92° 23′ W Air temperature: **-13.7 °C (7.3 °F) **Wind chill: -23.3 °C (-9.9 °F) Wind speed: 6 to 10 knots Barometric pressure: 982.8 mBar Antarctic trivia (answer at the end of this journal entry): Fast-ice isn’t fast, and grease ice isn’t greasy. Why are these ice types given such confusing names? Steve, Brent, Chris, and I participated in a live International Polar Year event Tuesday. A "Webinar” was hosted by the PolarTREC folks in Fairbanks, Alaska. We used our satellite phone to join a conference call with schools and individuals from across the U.S. The audience was able to view pictures of our expedition online during the event. We fielded many great questions from the audience, and we all enjoyed the chance to share our adventure. We hope there...
Location: Ice Station Belgica Latitude: 69° 31′ S Longitude: **92° 23′ W **Air temperature: -12.5 °C (9.5 °F) Wind chill: -28.7 °C (-19.7 °F) Wind speed: **11 to 13 knots **Barometric pressure: 978.1 Antarctic trivia (answer at the end of this journal entry): The word igloo comes from the Inuit word "iglu" meaning house. What is it about an igloo that makes it a good shelter? Steve thought it would be a good idea for our group to get a little safety and survival training Sunday morning, so Erik took us outside and taught us about the construction of snow shelters and igloos. It turns out that constructing an igloo is probably the most time consuming and least efficient way to build a structure to get out of the weather, but since we weren't doing it for anything other than fun, we...