It has been a really busy week! We just returned from our second camping trip to sample. Since our last blog we have completed two 24-hour sampling periods and also sampled from the Zodiacs in Arthur Harbor near Palmer Station. The 24-hour sampling is extremely labor intensive and requires ideal conditions. The weather has improved significantly, so all scientists are in full force and collecting as much data as possible during these conditions. Our 24-hour sampling (we refer to them as time-series) starts off with station staff dropping us on-site with all of our gear using the Zodiacs. Since the glacier behind Palmer is melting so fast, it is unstable to hike and so we are only able to access this location by boat. Once we are there, the only way back to station is to radio them to come pick us up. We then sample groundwater and the nearshore surface water every 2 to 3 hours. This requires us to “camp” in Antarctica. Unfortunately, there is no fire or roasting marshmallows at our camp, but it still has other forms of entertainment. We were able to see the glacier calving, three types of penguins, elephant seals, and Minke whales. It is extremely cold to stay out in these conditions overnight. Leigha was wearing eight shirts under her jacket! Both trips were a huge success.
Antarctic Educational Point:
Many times people often think we are at the South Pole conducting our research, but we are actually on the Antarctic Peninsula, 1744 miles from the South Pole. Lucky for us the Peninsula has a milder climate. So, this educational point is about the South Pole since the blog gives you an idea about the Antarctic Peninsula. The South Pole is actually on land (unlike the North Pole) covered by a glacier with an elevation of approximately 9000 ft. The South Pole moves about 20 ft/year because the glacier is moving. In order to keep the true South Pole marked correctly, the marker is relocated every year. The temperatures are almost always negative and it is considered one of the largest deserts because there is minimal precipitation. The United States is currently the only country to have a station at the South Pole.