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Antarctic conservation

170 Posts tagged with the antarctica tag
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Nacreous Clouds

Posted by Cricket and Diana Sep 2, 2010

Posted by Cricket

 

Date: 1 Sept 2010
Sunrise: 9:36am
Sunset: 16:15pm
Temperature: -34C
Wind Speed: 10 knots
Temp with wind chill: -53C

 

The word “nacreous” stems from the Latin “nacre,” meaning mother of pearl.  Nacreous clouds are thin and transparent with a wave-like form, and were so named for their dazzling iridescent colors.  They appear most prominently at dawn and dusk, and have been an almost daily feature during the last couple weeks.

 

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Nacreous clouds during sunrise © Antarctica New Zealand/Steven

 

 

In the late mornings they can be mixtures of rainbow colors, and by late afternoon, can change to waves of greens, blues and grays. 
Steven, our Scott Base science technician, explained that nacreous clouds are polar stratospheric clouds that only form in very cold polar regions and below –80C.  They exist well above our atmosphere at heights of 15-25km in the stratosphere, and being so high up, they appear stationary.  They gain their colors by reflecting sunlight coming from below the horizon, and so, are a skyline feature unique to this time of year.  They are a reminder of larger forces at play, and are associated with the chemical reactions that cause ozone depletion.

 

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Nacreous clouds during the afternoon © AHT/Cricket

To those wintering over in Antarctica, nacreous clouds must seem like fireworks after a 4-month-long term of darkness.  Seeing them does feel like a celebration, and their presence fosters joy and conversation.  Summer is coming quickly here and every day we have longer periods of daylight – a stark contrast to the almost constant darkness that we encountered upon our arrival several weeks ago.  As the sun reaches higher in the sky, our time for sighting nacreous clouds draws to a close.  Their appearance has been the best welcome to this fantastic landscape.

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Posted by Cricket

 

Date:             25 August 2010
Temperature:  -23 C (-9 F)
Wind Speed:  15 knots, NE
Temp with wind chill: -45 C (-49 F)
Sunrise:        10:37
Sunset:         15:16

 

 

Our first week at Scott Base quickly disappeared, faster than a kid with a cupcake.  This week working with the winter conservation team, seeing Antarctica for the first time, and meeting everyone here at Scott Base has been an absolute treat.  We had a five-day overlap with the winter conservators and began taking over and gaining speed on the Trust’s project to conserve objects associated with R.F. Scott’s (1910-13)  expedition.  During this time, the winter conservators helped us move into the summer conservation lab, which is situated a short outdoors walk from the main facility, and guided us through our environs, showing us what various offsite storage containers hold, which artefacts need conservation and discussing methodologies for conservation treatments.

 

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Winter Conservators leaving Scott Base, Antarctica, bound for Christchurch, New Zealand © AHT/D.Komejan

The winter conservation team left on Sunday.  Though we’ve only known them a short while, it was difficult to see Nicola, Mindy, Jane and Georgina go.  They are a fantastic group of women and wonderful conservators.  Diana and I laughed, a bit nervously, that maybe they set the bar a little too high?  The quality and volume of their work is certainly impressive. 

 

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Cricket in front of storage containers, Scott Base © AHT/D.Komejan

And now, starting into our second week with our training wheels off, we feel more and more settled, and eager to move ahead.  The first two crates of objects that we unpacked from Scott’s Cape Evans expedition (1910-1913) are enchanting – iron tools, tins of mustard, ration bags and a bottle of pickled onions.  But, more on these later.  For now, thank you, winter team, and happy travels!

 

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Antarctic Heritage Trust Artefact Conservation Lab at Scott Base, Antarctica ©  AHT/D.Komejan

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Frostbite

Posted by Cricket and Diana Aug 19, 2010

 

Posted by Nicola


Date:                  19 August 2010
Temperature:      -29c
Wind Speed:       10 knots
Temp with wind chill: 45c
Sunrise:              The first sunrise 12.26
Sunset:               13.30

 

With just a couple of days to go before we leave Scott Base, Antarctica, we are pleased to have come through the winter with just a couple of cases of frost-nip. We have all experienced the extreme pain of warming up fingers frozen whilst trying to operate cameras in thin gloves, but the polar clothing and toe and hand-warmers have kept us toasty.

 

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The hut at Cape Royds with Erebus in the background © AHT/N Dunn

 


Frostbite was a common complaint of the early explorers whose exposed skin, toes and fingers would turn black and swell with large blisters, the pain must have been excruciating. In the lab this week we had an artefact, known as ‘Brocklehurst’s leg protector’ which reminded us of how lucky we have been.


Sir Phillip Brocklehurst was the 19 year old assistant geologist on Shackleton’s 1907-09 expedition and part of the first team to climb Mount Erebus. The ascent was made in improvised climbing boots made of ski boots with nails hammered into the soles. On the treacherous slopes they survived a 36-hour blizzard before continuing the climb in intense cold, Brocklehurst still in his ski boots as he didn’t think it necessary to change into the better insulated ‘finnesko’ boots of reindeer skin. After nine hours both his big toes were black and frostbitten and he remained in the tent whilst the others made it to the summit.

 

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Brocklehurst’s leg protector made from painted steel rods bound with paper strips © AHT

 

Later one of his toes was amputated by Marshall (the expedition surgeon and cartographer) with Mackay (expedition doctor) acting as anaesthetist. The cold meant that the wounds healed slowly and as he recovered in Shackleton’s bed the metal cage protected the damaged foot from the weight of the blankets. Thank goodness for toe warmers!


 

 

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Flying to the Ice

Posted by Cricket and Diana Aug 18, 2010

Posted by Cricket & Diana

 

Date:             18 August 2010
Sunrise:          Below horizon
Sunset:
Temperature:  -32C
Wind Speed:  30 knots
Temp with wind chill: -65C

 

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Boarding the C-17  © AHT/C Harbeck

 

We boarded the U.S. Air Force’s C-17 plane just after lunch along with almost 120 other people and left Christchurch, New Zealand, for Antarctica, where we will be spending the next 6 months working on the artefact collection of Scott’s 1910–13 Antarctic expedition.  We were in awe of the plane.  Boeing’s C-17 Globemaster III is the preferred plane for these types of transport because it has a large carrying capacity and can fly to the ice and back all in one day and on one tank of gas.  It’s a huge plane, which, having watched the previous day’s flight take off, appears a heavy and pokey beast when leaving the ground.  However, in the plane, it felt much different. We were surprised by the speed and force, which jerked us back into our seats.

 

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Inside the C-17 © AHT/D Komejan

We were 2 of 3 “Kiwis” (slang term for New Zealanders) on the flight with the remaining passengers heading for the U.S. base, McMurdo.  Our departure time was unusual since most flights during late winter leave Christchurch in the early morning in order to land on the ice during a small window of daylight.  Our afternoon flight was scheduled so that the pilots could practice landing during the Antarctica nighttime with their new night vision goggles - a daunting initiation to the ice!  Our flight covered 4000km in only 5 hours, and we deplaned in time to see the last glow of sun.  Stunning.

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It's a wrap!

Posted by Conservators Aug 11, 2010
Author:Jane
Date:04/08/10
Temperature:-20.5°C
Wind Speed:25 knots
Temp with wind chill:-47°C
Moonrise:Below the horizon.
Moonset:

Below the horizon.

 

 

I have just finished conserving a group of tins from Captain Scott’s hut at Cape Evans which has been quite challenging over the last few weeks. With so many objects containing paper elements it has not been possible for George, our paper conservator, to conserve them all, so I have had the opportunity to learn new paper conservation skills from her.

 

Griffith & McAlister made dried food products like tapioca, lentils and macaroni, packed in distinctive square blue tins, wrapped in coarse paper and tied with string. Removing the wrappers can be a daunting process as the corroding iron from the tins is acidic and impregnates the paper, causing the wrapper to become very brittle.

 

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Griffith & McAlister tin of Flake Tapioca before conservation. The outer label is torn and stained with iron corrosion causing it to be very brittle.

Credit: AHT

 

I washed the wrappers in water, adding an alkaline buffer to reduce the acidity. The holes in the wrappers were filled with a Japanese tissue paper toned to the same colour as the wrapper, providing strength to weaker areas. The whole wrapper was then lined with a very thin toned Japanese tissue paper. The type of adhesive we use depends on how degraded the paper is.

 

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Applying toned Japanese tissue paper to fill lost areas of the wrapper to give it stability and then applying a thin lining for extra support.

Credit: AHT/ N. Dunn

 

As the wrappers dried between layers of blotting paper, I removed the surface corrosion from the tins and applied coatings to the metal to prevent them from deteriorating in the future. The labels were treated similarly to the wrappers and then reapplied to the tin.

 

 

The paper needs to be wet when re-wrapping the tin to prevent it from cracking. The tin was aligned perfectly along the original creases in the wrapper and finally the string was replaced.

 

 

I spent at least eight hours working on each of these tins as there are many different elements to treat on each one. It is often useful to conserve a batch of similar objects at one time, carrying out the same process on a number of objects. This is never boring as each has its own unique set of problems!

 

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The Flake Tapioca tin after conservation retains its historic appearance.

Credit:  AHT/J. Hamill

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