Guest Blogger and SSTORM Post Doc, Dr. Kim Null writes:
We made it! Here we are for our second season in Antarctica measuring glacial meltwater discharge to the coastal ocean. This year we are starting off the season at Palmer Station and finishing it with a 5-day research cruise in March. The team currently on station is composed of four scientists, Kim Null, Rick Peterson, Jared Crenshaw, and Leigha Peterson. Then the other half of the team will pick us up near the end of the season for sampling from the research vessel. It has been an exciting trip so far. The Drake Passage was not that kind to us this year as we made our way south on the Lawrence M. Gould (LMG). We had 50 knot headwinds slowing us down and creating some rough seas. We arrived at Palmer Station on January 5 and immediately began setting up the labs. It looks like chaos but it is actually quite organized. There is a lot of gear that must fit into limited space. That was accomplishment number one. Yesterday (January 7th) we had our first day of sampling. We hiked to the glacier face and conducted sampling from a glacial stream that discharges into the ocean. Sampling entails collecting large volumes (100L) of water to measure different tracers we use to quantify glacial meltwater to the ocean. Glacial meltwaters (surface and subsurface) have unique chemical signatures compared to seawater that allow us to distinguish them.
It has been an interesting start to the austral summer at Palmer Station because the station has been bounded by ice that has halted boating activities for most of the summer season so far. Unfortunately we are surrounded by ice once again right now. The larger research vessels like the LMG have no problem moving through the large concentrated brash ice, but it poses a problem for the smaller Zodiacs that we use to conduct sampling near station. Although we cannot start our sampling by boat, we have plenty of other sampling and prepping to keep us busy. Hopefully the wind will change direction soon and blow the ice back to sea.