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I arrived on the 1st of January in Christchurch. The flight was pleasant and  involved a lot of eating, sleeping and watching movies. When I arrived in Auckland it was raining but the sun was shining in Christchurch.

 

                                                                                     Auckland Airport

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                                                   Flying of the Southern Alps and Canterbury Plains, South Island

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It was nice to suddently be  in the middle of summer. I went for a stroll and did some last shopping for the field trip including some extra chocolate, tea and coffee. People are really into gardening in Christchurch and everywhere you find beautiful gardens.

 

                                                                           Summer in Christchurch

 

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Unfortunately, I got little sleep in my first night in Christchurch because there were quite a few earthquakes overnight. The biggest one was at 5.45 am with a strength of 5.5. Luckily, I am staying with somebody from our team and her house did not have any damage throughtout the last year. This is reassuring and I am slowly getting used to the rumbling. I am staying in a part of Christchurch which had little damage of the last year in comparison to many other parts of town.

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Everything packed!

Posted by Anne D Jungblut Dec 30, 2011

After having several days off over the Christmas days, it is now time to get organised. The list of things to pack is getting long and longer including equipment, clothing and paper work…

 

Here the beginning of a very long list:

 

Clothing:

thermal shirts

long johns

socks

long johns

thermal jumpers

fleeze jacket

goretex jacket

sorel boots

hiking boots

house shoes

running shoes

jeans

t-shirts

hats

gloves

neck gaiter

thin blue insulating gloves

sun glasses

sun lotion

woollen socks….. to be continued

 

 

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...  thick socks, thin socks, running socks and socks knitted by my aunty! ... followed by eather gloves, thick gloves, black gloves, thin  gloves, blue thermal insulating gloves, waterproof gloves and leather gloves...

 

 

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.... next are.... fleeze jacket, fleeze jumper, thermal shirts, long johns, balaclava, neck gaiter and hats

 

 

This is some of my equipment:

 

Sampling   equipment K081

60 ml ;   louer-lok syringes

cryovials 5 ml

50 ml falcon   tubes

15 ml falcon   tubes

cubitainers/carboy

sterile   filters 0.2 um pore size 47 mm ,

whirl packs

zip locks

spatula

forceps,   pointy

Forceps blunt   145mm pom 1 * 5 item

cable ties

Duck tape

Masking tape

Pens

Ruler

Garbage bags

Chopping board

gloves medium

gloves large

aluminium foil

Eppendorf   tubes 2.0 ml

Scissor

note book

sterivex, GV   0.22 um filter unit

blue tips

Parafilm

GPS

pH meter

1000-Pipette

100-Pipette

kids   microscope

Lysis buffer

RNAlater

Alcohol wipes

pH buffers

Cameras

 

 

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After a year of hard work in the lab, writing papers and going to conferences, it time to pack the bags for another trip to Antarctica! Watch out this space! I will soon post new updates on the coming trip in January!

 

The weather is not looking to bad so far: http://www.antarcticanz.govt.nz/

 

Meanwhile, the Antarctic Heritage Trust people are posting regularly about their work down South: http://www.nhm.ac.uk/natureplus/community/antarctic-conservation/blog

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Although it was very cloudy when we left the McMurdo Ice Shelf, there were great views over Antarctica on our flight back to Christchurch (New Zealand).  We had chance to go up to the cockpit and meet the pilots with incredible views over Antarctica.

 

 

                                                                                               Hana and me  in the cockpit                                                

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                                                                                      Flight path over Antarctica

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                                                                                         Last views of Antarctica

 

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After more than two month it is time to go back to the Natural History Museum, to study all of the amazing samples that we collected. The field work however would not be possible with the help of a lot of people and the logistic support: Thanks to the US Antarctic Program, Antarctic New Zealand Program, National Institute of Water and Aquatic Research, University of Canterbury, and everybody in the field teams G-441 and K081.

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Goodbye Antarctica

Posted by Anne D Jungblut Feb 9, 2011

After three weeks of field work, it was time to pack and go back home.   However, the last day there was enough time to do another walk out on the pressure ridges next to Scott Base. The pressure ridges where the sea ice and the ice shelf hit Ross Island .

 

                                                                             Visit to the pressure ridges

 

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In the last days it was relatively warm for Antarctic circumstances and the ice on the runway became to soft that could create problems with the aircrafts. Therefore our departure was set for  3 am. Although the sun does not set , it is still colder during the hours of the night. 

 

It takes 40 minutes out to the runway which is on the McMurdo Ice Shelf. One the way to the runway we saw amazing cloud formations:

 

                                                            Clouds with ice crystals can be rainbow coloured

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                                                                     Arrival at Williams Field Runway

 

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                                                                          C-17 aircraft arriving

 

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There are many small ponds and lakes at Cape Evans, similar to Cape Royds . After a quick survey of the ponds, we concentrated on five ponds for sampling. We sampled for morphological, DNA- and RNA-based analysis of the cyanobacterial diversity, as well as nutrient analysis of the water.

 

In one pond we found a pink coloured layer at the bottom of the mats, which is due to the presence of purple bacteria that  are anoxygenic phototrophs.


 



Cyanobacterial mats in Skua Lake

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Large cyanobacterial mat accumulations

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Cyanobacterial mat with a pink layer of purpil bacteria  at the bottom



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Water sampling at a small pond at Cape Evans


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Today, we went to Cape Evans, where the famous hut from the Terra Nova Expedition is located. The helicopter flight took 20 minutes and it was spectacular with great views over the the McMurdo Ice Shelf and sea ice. A group of conservators from the Antarctic Heritage Trust has been spending the whole summer here to work on the famous hut. They have a cosy camp with a communal kitchen and dining hut and several polar tents. Actually, these kind of tents were also used by Scott and their design has only little changed since then. They are can withstand stronger winds than mountain tents. From our lunch break we had a great view on Scott’s hut . After we were done with our sample collection the conservators from AHT showed us the hut.


Flight over the ice

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Polar tents at Cape Evans

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Scott's hut  build during the Terra Nova Expedition

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Conservation work at the hut by Antarctic Heritage Trust

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Yesterday we sampled cyanobacterial mats and water samples on the McMurdo Ice Shelf. We went for the day to an area near Bratina Island. In this area, the ice shelf  is covered with a  layer of sediment and hundreds of meltwater ponds can be found. During the summer they forms a large network of meltwater ponds  and it has the most extensive microbial growth and largest non-marine biota in southern Victoria Land. It  has been suggested that the  area plays an important role as  source for inocula through dispersal by winds into the more extreme regions such as the Dry Valleys.

 

Although some of the ponds are only several meters away from each other , they can have very different characteristics. A large range of salinities can be found in the area ranging from fresh to hypersaline.

 

 

 

                        McMurdo Ice Shelf and Bratina Island with Royal Society Range in the background

 

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   Temperature, conductivity and ph measurements at an hypersaline pond near Bratina Island. The pond is called Salt Pond and has thick white salt crust around the water edge.

 

 

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                                  Cyanobacterial mats with orange pigmented pinnacles

 

 

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The most southerly colony of Adélie penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae) is located at Cape Royds. I have come to Antarctica for several years now, but I never had the chance to see a penguin colony. Therefore I am very excited to be at Cape Royds! The penguins come to Cape Royds every summer to breed and at the moment little penguin chicks can be seen everywhere.


Penguins seem to be very curious little fellows and we would see them wandering around in small groups all over Cape Royds.


                                                                                          Penguin colony at Cape Royds



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                                                                                               A penguin is visiting us

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                                                                                                    Penguin chick

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The terrain surounding Cape Royds is covered with many ponds that vary in size, depth, shape and conductivity (salinity). There are also two larger lakes: Blue Lake and Clear lakes that are ice-covered all year. They were named during Shakleton’s expedition because of their blue and clear ice colour.  We were amazed by the variability of pond characteristics and diversity of microbial mats.



Back at the Natural History Museum we will study the cyanobacterial mats using microscopy and DNA-based tools to see if different mat types comprise different cyanobacterial communities.




                                             small pond with lift-off mats at Cape Royds

                                                 

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                                                                 Cyanobacteria-dominated mats

    

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Cape Royds, Antarctica

Posted by Anne D Jungblut Jan 11, 2011

Cape Royds is located at the west site of Ross Island (166°09'56"E, 77°33'20"S). Shakleton’s hut from the Nimrod Expedition (1907-1909) is located at Cape Royds and the Antarctic Heritage Trust  did conservation work on the hut this summer. The Antarctic Heritage Tust is also doing conservation work on the other historic huts at Cape Evans and at Hut Point next to McMurdo Station , which is documented in a blog:



http://www.nhm.ac.uk/natureplus/community/antarctic-conservation




Historic hut at Cape Royds

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One of the aims of the field event is to collect cyanobacteria from locations where the scientists of Scott’s and Shakleton’s expeditions collected material 100-years ago and compare them with the historic samples. We will sample cyanobacterial mats on Ross Island and the McMurdo Ice Shelf.


Cyanobacterial samples were collected during the three expedition:

 

1) The National Antarctic Expedition (1901-04; Discovery Expedition) led by R.F. Scott

 

2) The British Antarctic Expedition (1907-1909; Nimrod) led by E.H. Shackleton

 

3) The British Antarctic Expedition (1910-1913; Terra Nova) led by R.F. Scott

 



                                        Hut Point in front of McMurdo Station with the Discovery Expedition hut


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                                                                           Discovery Hut


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Scott Base, Antarctica

Posted by Anne D Jungblut Jan 11, 2011

     The next three weeks I will be doing fieldwork under New Zealand Antarctica Program (Antarctica New Zealand), and I am now based at Scott Base. It is a great place. Everybody is really nice and the food is always great!


Scott Base is located on Ross Island and is only a 35-minute walk from the McMurdo Station.  Since 2009, Scott Base is obtaining its energy from three windmills that are located above Scott Base on Crater Hill. Over the austral summer it is busting with activity: renovations, construction work and many science projects.


                                                                                                    Scott Base

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Mummified seals can be found all over the Dry Valleys. It is believed that the seals came from the seas ice into the Dry Valleys . It is not known why exactly seals end up far away from the sea ice. Explanations could be that they become disorentiated due to sickness or bad weather conditions, and  starve to death.

Due to dry air and slow degradation processes in Antarctica the seal carcasses mummify and are thought to be hundreds of years old.

 

                                             Mummified seal near Canada glacier and Lake Fryxcell

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                                                             Mummified seal near Koettlitz glacier

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Cyanobacteria are also very common in hypolithic communities that are microbial communities growing under translucent rocks such as quartz rock. These communities can be a mixture of cyanobacteria, other bacteria, green algae, protists, mosses, lichen and fungi.

It is still very little known about these hypolithic communities. As environmental conditions in Antarctica are extreme scientists believe that hypolithic habitats can provide some protection from high UV radiation and rapid fluctuation of freeze-thaw processes. The Dry Valleys are cold deserts with very limited liquid water and hypolithic rock habitats provide an increased water availability through water condensation processes on the rock surfaces.

                                                  Quartz rock

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                                       Below the same quartz rock    

The green spots on the bottom of the rock are cyanobacterial communities  

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                  Green hypolithic community growing around the bottom of a small quartz rock

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