Saturday, September 26, 2015

Science Neighbors

There are only four (4) science groups at McMurdo during WINFLY. It is a very friendly atmosphere among the science teams as everyone understands the difficulty of working in Antarctica. Radio chatter will often be about conditions near various science camps or observations that could be relevant to each others projects... and the opportunity to poke fun at another team is rarely missed.

Last Sunday we car-pooled (matt-track-pooled?) with members of team B-017 who work on understanding how seals navigate (see previous blog entry about B-017). They invited us for "chips and dip" at their camps... though this isn't what you may be thinking - it refers to using an ice chipping bar and a dip net.

Lars dip netting ice out of a seal breathing hole in order to keep it open and unfrozen. The plastic tube directs warmer air blown from the top of the tent down towards the hole in an effort to minimize refreezing.

Chipper bars (left) that are used to maintain a breathing hole. The "cookie" is designed to plug up a hole. Lars (black) and Traci (red) had been shoveling ice out of this hole.

Traci and Jason put the cookie in the hole.

A happy Weddell Seal.

Another group working in our vicinity is B-134, who study Antarctic Invertebrates. We rendezvoused with them out near the edge of the sea ice one evening as we were searching for frost flowers. 

Kevin (L) and Gretchen (R) of B-134 carry their samples back to their PistenBully. It's not a particularly good photo because all cameras were freezing up in the cold temperatures and there was not enough time to adjust exposure before the camera died. Frozen cameras are just one challenge of working in Antarctica.

Team B-259, aka SIMPLE, work close to the McMurdo Ice Shelf which is quite a way from the other teams. They are putting a robotic sensor under the ice shelf to investigate the sub-ice ecosystem. I don't have any photos of SIMPLE in the field, but their team played a great set at the Carpenter Shop Party on Saturday, which signifies the end of WINFLY and start of Main Body at McMurdo.

Peter and Chris lead the vocals

Team SIMPLE rock out