Friday, December 28, 2007

Sounds and Smells from the far South

My flight to Christchurch was canceled, rescheduled, and re-rescheduled, so I may be getting out of here this morning, I may not.... this calls for caffeine! Below are some pictures from the Sound Walkabout of McMurdo lead by Andrea Polli (artist). We recorded sounds heard around the station including the wastewater treatment plant (below). Admittedly, smell was my overwhelming sense at this location, but once I plugged my nose, I heard some lovely gurgles and stream-songs.
And the satellite tracker (Nik led us into the inner world of the golfball)

(Andrea is pictured listening above).
Anyway, I'll be heading up the hill again soon, with big red on, and my fingers crossed. I hope I'm home for New Year's, otherwise, I'll be blogging from Icestock and the great Antarctic Chili Cookoff. (and working on my dissertation from the office here). I went black-light bowling last night. A few folks act as pin-resetters, strategically wearing boldly striped socks to not get mowed over by over-eager bowlers.

Thursday, December 27, 2007


The warm yellow of my tent-favored laundry gets to dry out, or 'air-cleanse'.
Sleeping is surprisingly easy even in the glow, my skin burns yellow.
High flow from the Suess Glacier creates a braided bed, where sediment drops out in small bar deposits.
I think this might still be Mars.
Rae deserves a postcard every year for managing camp- many thanks to her and Sandra!
Differential melt caused by dark sediment absorbing heat creates strange forms on the glacier's surface.
Descending from the glacier to the lake, there is little difference between the two surfaces.
The jamesway at Lake Hoare, storage facility and where some of the diving equipment is stored. (people scuba here in the beginning of the year to observe the algal mats at the bottom of the lake).
Poles sticking out of Matt's Glacier pack were used for setting up sensors to measure discharge and conductivity on the glacier surface- to ultimately estimate the amount of melt.

The clouds lifted and Paul (pilot) and Grifford (helitech) swooped down taking me back to McMurdo and dropping LeeAnn off at F-6. We flew dauntingly close to the ground, it felt much like being in a sports tank (something fast, but ground-crunching). I loved it (and got some amazing video footage until my battery died). The smell of the paella that I missed lingered in my brain fading with my dinner of soggy raisin bran, social hour with Kathy and Nik, and the happy discovery that my town roommate was a friend from home (Stephanie Konfal).

Now, I am packing samples to ship home, and getting ready to bag-drag this evening (take all my hand-carry items up the hill to transport back to Christchurch and then home). I will post more soon- on my adventures in McMurdo Soundscapes with artist Andrea Polli. Andrea had visited us out at Lake Hoare. Last night, Andrea led a group of townies around recording the sounds of McMurdo. Tonight will likely be my last night in McMurdo and then I shall head almost immediately home. I won't be spending any time in Christchurch, as lovely as it is, I would much prefer the comfort of home and time with my wonderful husband. Besides, I am inspired by the data to come, the answers revealed, and the new questions to pose. These, and the inspiration of students and colleagues, are the great motivators.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Weather Hold

(Canada Stream)
Produce is such a treat!
A seal weathering.
The Suess Glacier
A pyramid for rock mites.

See the algal mats?
I may get out today, I may not. Such is the weather hold. Clouds tethered tightly grasped by vapor fingers to the ground, their thick congestion means that for a while no helos will fly. The only wildlife is us, and we are caged in our waiting. (All of the scientists at camp have flights planned today to get to their research sites, or back to town). Still I will lug my sleep kit up the hill in anticipation of the brightening sky.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Holidays at Lake Hoare

LeeAnn and I finished our second 24 hour sampling event-just in time to join holiday festivities. This included decorating cookies and camp.

We all decorated the gingerbread house that Rae and Sandra had baked a few days prior (equipped with candy-pane windows). (We covered the windows with dark cloth to block out the 24 hour sunlight and illuminated our special dinner with lights and candles).

We exchanged gifts and laughter after our wonderful holiday meal!

Tomorrow I fly back to McMurdo and will post more pics from the field. Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Two times 24

House Stream (LeeAnn's first Taylor Valley Samples).Salt in the soil, drawn from the lake... patterned ground created by freezing and thawing of the icy soil (much like pot holes in the pavement)
Canada Stream Gauge (Flume with stage height- used to determine the amount of flow per/time, otherwise known as discharge)
Our sampling coolers, we had some help unloading sampling equipment.
Done with our first 24 hours, (waiting to find out if we had helo support or if we had to hike to Lake Fryxell Camp)
(We rolled out of our helo wait position and hiked to Lake Fryxell, our LTER and NASA friends had prepared a nice spaghetti dinner and we had nice conversations until we fell soundly asleep).

LeeAnn and I have been sampling a lot of bottles in a row. Because of a helo delay we got started sampling Canada Stream a few hours late, another helo delay had us staying the night at Lake Fryxell Camp, and so soon after completing our first 24 hour sampling cycle, we are in the midst of another. I have been filtering time-sensitive samples from our first collections in between collecting our next set from Andersen Creek. LeeAnn and I are rotating sleeping, sampling, putting together sampling bottles, and filtering. In the meantime, camp is alive with holiday cheer, I'll post some pics of the cookies that are keeping us going soon! We're exhausted, but wouldn't trade it for this amazing experience!