Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sea Ice Science

Recently I went out on the sea ice with a group of scientists to help them perform some tests on the breaking strength of sea ice. In this photo our camp is a small dot in the middle and we are about 400m from the edge of the sea ice. What the group does, is using a huge chainsaw (as seen below) cut out a block (not the one he is cutting there but the final product is the next photo) of ice 15ft by 30ft and isolate it so that it is floating free from the rest of the surrounding ice.
Then a small inflatable plate and a bunch of little monitors(I have no idea what other word to use) are put into the ice along with video cameras. The cutting, clearing of ice, and getting the machines hooked up can take somewhere are 4 to 7 hours depending on weather and if everything is working correctly. Eventually the small plate is inflated and the ice will break in two. That takes about 6 seconds at the most. As exciting as this sounds, it wasn't that exciting(I think I was hoping for an explosion and then two icebergs to float to the surface rolling over and over threatening to drown everyone in the wash) but according to the scientists the data they collected that day was the best of the season and my helping out was useful.

For me the real exciting part of the day was when the penguins showed up. From what appeared to be out of nowhere, we would be working and then these little guys(Adelie penguins) would show up just to check us out. As seen in the photo below, they were super curious and would get within just a few feet of you. Throughout the day about 20 of them camp into our camp, would check us out for a little while and then get bored and head off somewhere else.

The Adelie are super fun but eventually an Emperor penguin ended up waddling over. The Emperors are probably three times as big as the Adelies and probably about 80lbs. This one was by itself and seemed a little reluctant to come quite as close but still within about 15 ft. In all I probably watched penguins for about three hours of an 18 hour work day. The weather was beautiful, science was getting done, I helped out where I could, and was once again blown away by these amazing little animals in their natural habitat.


. said...

I bet the little ones taste better!!!! ummmm penguinnnn

Grant W. Earl said...

Wow, looks amazing.

Just watched "The Thing" which takes place down there. Watch out for shape-shifting aliens.

Merry Xmas.

Anonymous said...

Hey Buddy,

This is P-Met. Looks like you are doing awesome work down there. I will email you soon. Hope all is well. It looks amazing! Katie and I will see you in AK this summer. Fire us an email when you get a chance. Be well friend.