Saturday, December 01, 2007

Colors of Canada Glacier

Today we explored the Canada Glacier- little water was flowing, so I was unable to sample, but it looks like the stream adjacent to camp is starting to trickle revitalizing the camp with its gargling voice. (Above is the lower glacier)
(The pocked ice in the background is Lake Hoare, the foreground is Canada Glacier looking toward Suess Glacier.)
(Here is another shot of our descent down the glacier to Lake Hoare.)

Lake Hoare ice sprouts into ice gardens, these will melt away later with the summer thaw, crunching under our boots.
Canada Glacier has a beach, formed not by breaking waves, but by the melt pools draining from the glacier. Sediment blown onto the glacier comes down, most of the fines have been dissolved leaving mostly sand.
(our ascent)

This is the inside of a channel on the Canada Glacier (supraglacial channel).
(I had to snake on my stomach through most of the channel, but was relieved to find this spot to take a breath).
Lee is examining an ice crystal from the channel that was stuck on my cap.
Flat Stan sprung from my pocket, wondering if he had spotted other penguins. (The other flats will help me in the lab tonight).
More from the channels (above and below)

Tonight I will sample Anderson Creek (the stream running against Canada Glacier) and I am camp house mouse, which means that I am responsible for emptying grey water and cleaning the dishes (we all help each other out with these tasks)... It is also shower day (a bucket of glacier melt warmed by a stove funneled through a plastic hose).

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Universe Was Opaque

A group of ten of us took a Delta (a big red breadtruck with tractor wheels) out to Cape Evans to explore Scott's Terra Nova Hut- where some of his men spent 2 years of their lives surviving off palatable meals of seals and penguin (and many supplies brought from home).
Their home was cold and harsh, with no McMurdo Dorms to seek refuge in, and winter's never-ending howling darkness challenged their mental and physical capabilities.Along the way we came across 3 Adelie penguins huddled against the 20-30 knot gusts that bombarded us (the flats had to stay in my pocket, or risk being whisked away into the Ross Sea). They had a nice time riding in the Delta and meeting new people.

The hut was built in New Zealand and reassembled in 2 weeks at Cape Evans...Inside tins of food and coffee and bunks smaller than children's beds for grown men to curl up in...
A chemistry lab that likely rivaled any other built during its time.

And the Ross Sea gritty and barely catching blowing snow, making walking slippery without thick treads and dedication. Can you imagine looking across this vast landscape and deciding to walk South, further into the blasting wind, further into the freezer?
On the ride home, an astrophysicist from Caltech who had wintered-over at the Pole detailed how they are using microwave telescopes to view the farthest margins of our universe. Our universe is surprisingly aged-constrained at around 13.7 Billion years old, with this new telescope able to reach out to when our universe was a nascent 300 million years old. At this time our universe was opaque. So hot that electrons scattered, unable to join with protons and neutrons to form even the most basic elements, light did not exist as we know it now. Today, in the same breath as Scott, the universe is bright. Antarctica is a blinding cold mesmerizing place, where it seems that little remains of our Universe's fiery origins.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Memories from a different life

A short walk from McMurdo Station down to Hut Point will wake a scientist from the laboratory spell that sets in under fluorescent lighting and well-aligned bottles and return them to a time before cell phones and wireless connections.

Our first glimpse of the Hut that Scott and his crew established over a century ago.

The animals had a better look at the inside...

Our shadows were long in the circling sun.

Also,there are many others from OSU here... Kathy Welch (I have a link to her blog on the sidebar) and Dr. Peter Webb, Katie Johnson, and Cristina Milan---(part of the 200+ Andrill crew drilling a long, long sediment core to explore the climate history of the distant past.)
I've been running into folks left and right in the galley, coffee house, and lab....

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


On the way to Antarctica, I ran into Dr. Kathy Sullivan, the first Director for the new Ohio State University, Battelle Center for Mathematics and Science Education Policy at the John Glenn School of Public Affairs. (She has previously been the director for COSI, our excellent science education museum in Columbus). She is part of a Distinguished Visitors tour of Antarctica. Also here from OSU, is Dr. David Elliot, Dr. Larry Krissek, and Dr. Matt Saltzman and Jeremy Gouldey- all affiliated with the School of Earth Sciences. OSU is well represented.

On the C-17 here (a 5 hour flight from Christchurch to McMurdo Station, Antarctica) the flats made themselves comfortable on the cargo crate in front of me...
But when I got up to stretch my legs a little, the quickly made themselves comfortable in Big Red (the proper name for a downy parka).
So I enticed them with a tour of the front of the plane, including a quick hello to the flight staff.
Here is a better view of our luxury seating, coupled with the sound of massive engines muted only by yellow foam and dreams of our destination.
We all had a look out the window, waiting for the first sign of ice.
After I get some field prep done, I'll go hike around and take some more pictures of McMurdo, I will be here for another 3 days getting things together and attending a snow school refresher course (this is a survival course to prepare all people who go into the field for the harsh conditions we may face).

Good times in Christchurch

I made it to Christchurch, New Zealand on Sunday. You gain almost a day (18 hours) crossing the International Dateline and it takes about 28 hours in the plane, or at the airport to make it to Christchurch from Columbus, Ohio. Once you land, the smell of flowers and overwhelms the plane stink that coats your skin and teeth.

I ran into one person I knew in the airport, Lee, another student working in the McMurdo Dry Valleys with the Long Term Ecological Research Program. On the plane I sat next to another Antarctic-bound woman on the plane (she slept blissfully for the 11 hour LAX to Auckland Leg, while I scratched my eyes into half-sleep on foreign flicks.) You can now zone out the movie of your choice on the plane, Now, I am well-rested (and will post next on the trip to the ice).

The flat characters were particularly helpful, helping me get gear organized at the Bed & Breakfast.
However, the Frankenburg Fish was a bit tired from the lack of water to sleep in on the plane...
While the Gator and Fish took care of things at the B&B, Flat Stan and I took a nice walk through Christchurch. (We stopped at the Botanical Garden.)
& the Arts Centre

We also managed to find the only Texan Restaurant in Christchurch, the Adobe Grille, equipped with a fire in the center of the table (We ate there with 2 other south bound travelers).