new video: oceanography in Antarctica

edit:  I deleted this video when the audio stopped working.  I’ll upload it again as soon as I can!
-May 2009

Here’s another short video I put together in the Antarctic.  The footage is mostly of the scientific equipment we used.   It’s less exciting than the last video I posted, but I hope it gives you an idea of what it was like on board the ARSV Gould, constantly deploying and retrieving scientific equipment.  The first couple of scenes show some rough seas while crossing the Drake Passage; the last few scenes show us taking the Zodiacs out on the water, which was always incredible.  Those orange coats you’ll see everyone wearing are nicknamed “float coats” (sort-of a cross between a life vest and a parka… really toasty, but unfortunately not entirely waterproof).

You can click the “HQ” button in the bottom right corner of the player to see the video in higher quality.

Weightless

I am officially at Woods Hole now, which I guess means it’s time to bid farewell to the Arctic as far as blog posts go.

We left Axel Heiberg on one of the windiest days I’ve ever seen.  Upper Camp, where we had been staying further north on the island, was experiencing some nasty cloudy weather, so we took a gamble and hiked a few miles south, in the hopes that the plane would have a better chance of landing there.  The clouds may have actually been better, given the incredible gusts ripping through Lower Camp, and unpredictably changing directions every few minutes.  If I unzipped my jacket and held its edges out like sails, the wind literally lifted me off my feet.

I’d secretly been hoping it wouldn’t be able to land, but in some crazy feat of expert piloting, the twin-otter managed to touch down at Lower Camp, after circling a few times to gauge the wind.

We were splashed with jet fuel as the pilots tried to fill up the twin-otter’s tank in the blustering wind.  In between gusts, I overheard the pilot say, “Young pilots think they’re going to live forever.  Me?  I’ve already lived forever.”

I wasn’t sure what exactly that implied for the flight ahead of us, but I guessed correctly that it was going to be a bumpy ride.  As we strapped down our cargo and began to buckle ourselves in, the co-pilot turned around and warned us:

Make sure you buckle those tight.  I mean … TIGHT.

Sure enough, it wasn’t long after the twin-otter took off from the tundra that we hit some serious turbulence.  We were actually weightless at one point, with all our jackets, cameras, and cargo floating right at eye-level.  I was videotaping the view out the window when it happened.  Unfortunately, I didn’t think fast enough to catch the floating stuff on camera, but it’s a fun video to watch nonetheless:

I get so wistful watching that landscape disappear below the plane.  I can’t wait to go back.  I’m addicted to the Arctic.

Arctic Toilet

The toilet on Axel Heiberg Island is a rusting old fuel barrel with a plastic seat stuck on top, giving new, literal meaning to the phrase “sitting on the can.” You think your toilet seat at home is chilly sometimes? Try sitting on a metal cask in the Arctic.

Yet the view from this toilet made it all worthwhile. The chance to sit and stare at glaciers and mountains was my number one motivation for staying well-hydrated during my stay on Axel Heiberg Island.

Rob shared my sentiments, and made a short video on the subject. Watch it: