Sunday, January 29, 2017

Mertz glacier, East Antarctica

January 29

Hello from Mertz glacier. The weather on January 28, 2017 turned from bad to worse, so we did not expect much from the next day. You can imagine my surprise waking up in the morning realizing that we stopped for a CTD station and that it will only get better. After I was done sampling (closer to the afternoon) I finally went outside and I saw the sun! and the walls of Mertz glacier! It was such a picture perfect moment, that I couldn’t resist and did my “traditional Antarctic jump” on a heli deck
Helicopter pilots went on an exploration flight around the glacier and soon took the ice core drilling party out to the ice. They returned about 9 PM at night having completed more coring than they expected – what a day they had.
While helicopters were gone, the ship started to deploy our hi-tech submersibles – ROPOS systems. There’s a website written on them, I don’t have internet access here, but maybe you can read more from land. The machines are about the size of a small car, they have hydraulic pumps to help them navigate in the water and many-many instruments all over. As they have cameras all over, we were enjoying the streaming video last night during dinner.
A little bit of scientific history. Mertz glacier used to have an extensive tongue grounded several km out into the bay. In 2010 a huge chuck of ice tore off the tongue and a massive iceberg was formed. This changed the geography of the area quite dramatically. Grounded glacier tongue was acting as a barrier for sea ice, leading to extremely old sea ice chunking to the west of it and keeping the polynya further off shore (see map).
Since the collapse of the glacier tongue is so recent, the old map on the screen of our lab computer shows that we have been on top of the glacier for quite a few days now!
What we are interested in studying are the physical, chemical and biological changes in the area that occurred after the collapse of the glacier. We are collecting samples from the ship and with the help of our submarine robots to understand how things have changed since a big chunk of glacier melted.
To get better data right off the edge of the ice, our captain “parked” the icebreaker into the glacier last night. It was really exciting to watch and again the weather was just perfect. All in all we had quite an adventurous day!

No comments:

Post a Comment