ice tide

Today is a nice, cozy, indoorsy kind of day – as in it’s blowing 45 knots with gusts of 55.  King Neptune is having a great time blasting sea spray into faces and teaching lessons to the idiot who tried to carry her open coffee mug between buildings.  So, after a quick trip to the laundry room, I’m huddled in the galley, with a fresh vat of caffeine safely in hand.  What to do with my spare time?  How about string together some mellow video clips of sea ice rolling in on the changing tide:


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.

03:45, January 19th

Good news: I can almost feel my hand again!  I’ve just gotten back inside after filming humpback whales for the last hour.  There were four of them, barely 50 feet from the bow of the ship, having some kind of feeding frenzy.  It was “sunrise,” which, in Antarctica, isn’t so much a transition from night to day as it is a pink-hued transition from a dusky purple sky to a bright blue one.  We’re far enough north that the sun dips just below the horizon, but far enough south that it never gets dark.  Sunrise and sunset are more or less one continuous act, as the sun moves diagonally across the sky.  The whales were so close that we could hear them breathing, and could clearly make out the expandable ridges on their gargantuan chins.  They spent an hour rolling around at the surface–diving, blowing bubbles, waving at us with their fins, gulping krill with their mouths.  I think if my mouth were as proportionally large as theirs, it would stretch from the top of my head down almost to my bellybutton.  They have big mouths.

Today begins the three days of Ocean Station OBAMA.  Chief Scientist Doug is getting interviewed on NPR soon.

Time to go warm up my fingers before they fall off.

Upper Camp

Picking up from my last long post:

Flying to Axel Heiberg was breathtaking. Pack ice breaking up to look like a big doily on the water, huge glaciers sliding off mountains, expanses of ground covered in strange polygonal patterns formed by the freeze-thaw cycle. The twin-otter touched down on the tundra. Those planes need a terrifyingly small amount of space to land, so we were able to land right at camp. The little food hut is just across Colour Lake from where the plane landed. Up a steep hill are the sleeping and working quarters: two tent-like “weather havens” and a sturdy wooden hut. We’re the only humans around.  And while a poor-quality video hardly does it justice, here’s a 360-degree view of camp: