Saturday, December 15, 2007

Day of Reflection

Its Sunday, our day of rest and showers. The glaciers flow cleansing their dirty faces, and the once abundant snow patches are now disappearing. Pulled down to the streams and vaporized in the sun. This rare year of snow; erased. Only the highest parts of the accumulation zone retain their snowy mass, keeping these glaciers in rare equilibrium. Today I am going to hike up the mountain behind camp with my water colors, yesterday was warm enough for windpants and a dark Smartwool top- I had my head open to the sun, relieved. This break is well needed as well as the time to appreciate this great valley. I am ever reverent.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Antarctic Freeway: fast ATVs, faster streams

I hopped a ride with the stream team to House Stream (flowing along the eastern margin of the Suess Glacier).
Lee collected some algal mat samples while we assisted.
A crab-eater seal vertebra fell victim to the stream.
Sampling is going well, I have most of my supraglacial (on-glacier) samples complete and will collect the rest of them over the next week. Dr. LeeAnn Munk from the University of Alaska, Anchorage has arrived in town (McMurdo) and we will be conducting a 24 hour sampling scheme on the two streams flowing along Canada Glacier. (We will are working alongside my advisor, Dr. Berry Lyons and Kathy Welch). I am so excited to see LeeAnn, she completed her dissertation with Dr. Gunter Faure when I first started graduate school-and she is wonderful!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Waterfalls for my flat friends

While I was working in the lab, my flat friends ventured over Canada Glacier to gaze down at Lake Fryxell and the gushing Canada Stream. The Frankenburg fish wanted to swim in the lake, but alas there are no fish in these strange ice-covered waters.A little upset that the lake was not fish-friendly, the fish, gator and penguin waddled across the Canada Glacier, enjoying the view of an icefall.
They raced back to camp to tell me that water was flowing from the glacier. A glorious waterfall! The field season has truly begun!
The camp set in shadows, yet melt everywhere, the lakes, ponds and glaciers alive!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Dusty Life

Canada Glacier
Pond behind Andrew's ridge south of Lake Hoare
Canada Glacier ( left) and Mount Erebus (distant right)

Today Sandra (camp assistant) and I sampled the lower western part of the Canada Glacier, the lower the easier to find melt. Sediment blown onto the glacier is heated by the circling sun, melting into the glacier's surface. Channels meander or race down the glacier wherever the sediment is blown and collects. In this way, the sediments make their way back down off the glacier back to the wind-belted bed it came from. The lighter, more mobile dust particles are blown further up the glacier high into the zone where snow accumulates and beyond. Dust from major glaciations (when Columbus, Ohio was covered by ice) blew into the oceans fertilizing them, providing valuable nutrition.

What role do the dust and sediment play for the life existing in these extreme conditions?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Welcome the Water

Lake Ice
Camp at Lake Hoare, below Canada Glacier

Howard Glacier

At last! The streams are melting! My fingers are looking forward to shunting all the blood straight to my sample collecting core as I pull on poly gloves and blissfully dip collection bottles.

Unless it snows or stays gray for a few days in a row, the streams have some thermal inertia. If you put an ice cube (O degrees C) on the stove and heat it until it melts and reaches a temperature of around 10 degrees C, you have used approximately the same amount of energy as it would take to heat 10 degree water to boiling (at 100 C).... what this means is that melting should continue unless we drop more than 5 below C, it clouds up for several days in a row, or it snows...

Anyway, I will be going up on the glacier to collect melt tomorrow, and today I am heading out to sample with the lake (limno) team. In the meantime above are some pictures of icier times.