Saturday, January 07, 2006

White Ninjas

Today Hassan (from Portland), and Liz (from Bristol), and I completed several tasks. The first was updating two met stations, the second- collecting cryoconite hole (melt holes in the glacier that fill with sediment and are sealed with an ice lid), and the final was sampling trace metals in the supraglacial streams. This final task required Hassan and I to don the billowy (XXXL) white non-particulating suits, complete with head covering. The suits are huge in case it is very cold and you have to wear Big Red underneath. (Big red is the fond name for our huge Antarctic Parkas.) It was mild (1 C) and sunny, no wind and no big red, so we looked like white ninjas posed for attack in the fierce landscape of the glacier... it is fierce, there are steep cliffs in the ablation zone that host treacherous icy spears, and Mount Erebus looms forebodingly in the background.

I am hot (red-faced) and tired, and soon I will sleep with the billowing ninjas in my mind. There is an artistry to sampling, Hassan stood downwind so he did not blow any of his 'dust' into my bottles.... and it was a simple dance to keep out of each others way while maintaining the quality of the samples. It was a lot of hiking- we started up the glacier at 9 and I just finished filtering samples at 9--- after getting of the ice at 7. I am glad that I like long steep walks. Its worth the view and the science. These samples may illustrate the metals in this terrain, or may point to pollution from the Southern Hemisphere, the may be the food that the smallest of organisms thrive on... I can't wait to find out... but for now, I must sleep...

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