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Antarctic conservation

167 Posts tagged with the antarctica tag
1

Arrival

Posted by Conservators Feb 13, 2012

Author: Georgina
Date: 26/02/12
Temperature: -4.8c
Wind Speed: 8 kn
Temp with wind chill: -13c
Sunrise: N/A
Sunset N/A

 

So here we are in Antarctica at last!


Gretel, Stefan and I have come from the UK, while Susanne our lead conservator hails from the USA.  We shall be here at New Zealand’s Scott Base in the Ross Sea Region of Antarctica for the next 7 months during the Austral winter, and shall be conserving artefacts that have been temporarily transported here for the season from Captain Scott’s hut at Cape Evans.  It has been a long road getting here for all of us, with the last few months being taken up with medical exams, psychometric testing, packing and general preparations, as well as saying goodbye to friends and family back home.

 

Group shot 2.jpg
Waiting to depart at Christchurch Airport. L-R: Jeff (winter mechanic), Susanne, Gretel, Stefan, George

 

Both Susanne and I are returnees, having worked on the programme before, but for Stefan and Gretel it is their first time in the big white South!


I  was last here in 2010 and am very much looking forward to experiencing a second winter.  Every season is unique according to group dynamics and personalities on base, not to mention the artefacts themselves posing new conservation challenges.


I had initially felt a little nervous about meeting my immediate AHT colleagues and wider Scot base family (a small team of 14 people in total), given that we will be living and working together so closely for so long… but things are looking good so far, so watch this space.

 

C17.jpg

AHT winter team arrive on the ice! C 17

0

Author:      John
Date:        January 2012

 

My time spent working with the Antarctic Heritage Trust team at Ross Island Antarctica on the conservation of Shackleton’s Hut and Scott’s Hut at Cape Royds and Cape Evans respectively is drawing to an end.  I am 21 and from New Zealand on a programme called the Sir Peter Blake Trust Youth Antarctic Ambassador. We were at Cape Royds for 3 weeks in November and spent the remainder of the Antarctic summer at Cape Evans. We are the New Zealand Antarctic Programme’s  longest running field camp, spanning from the beginning of November to the end of January.


Antarctica is well known as being the coldest, windiest and driest place on earth. Each of these factors makes living in Antarctica challenging and demanding but when the correct procedures and equipment are used it is generally a pleasant and workable environment.


Keeping warm is obviously key. Antarctica New Zealand provides all the clothing which is similar to what would be worn on a ski field.  Thermal under layers, microfleece and wool then a wind stopper outer. At the beginning of the season it was down to minus 20 degrees Celsius. At that temperature, all exposed skin must be covered. A balaclava and goggles are worn.


Wind is the Antarctic killer as this creates additional cold or wind-chill which draws substantially more heat from the body. In mid December, the temperature rarely got to -10 degrees Celsius  and was often above zero. With no wind, it seems as though it is much warmer than it actually is. Activity level has a great deal to do with warmth and hence keeping cool is an issue when many clothes are worn during high activity levels and are shed – sweat becomes very cold when activity level reduces. So managing clothing is a learning curve.

 

At work.jpg
At work © AHT

 

We sleep in traditional Scott Polar tents. They are a proven design and can survive winds over 120 km/h when sufficiently guy roped. The sleeping bags are very warm, a down sleeping bag within another and a cotton sheet inner and outer. Normally this is too warm so one bag acts as a duvet. Liquid human waste is excreted in a tide crack (sea ice cracks due to the tide next to the land). When in the tent, we pee in a plastic “pee” bottle. Solid human waste is collected in a bucket and transported to be incinerated in New Zealand. The 24 hour day light takes a bit to get used to. The only time cue is the position of the sun or watch. The tent is always bright orange.

 

Tents resized.jpg
Home on the Ice  © AHT

 

The environment is not dirty although there can be dust. We have no shower in the field but typically once a week I would have a flannel wash. This is more effective than you might think and uses minimal water.  Luckily we were able to go back to Scott Base for a shower mid trip.  A week per clothing set is standard during normal work. Socks are hung to air for a couple of days before being reused. Every few weeks, clothing is washed in a bucket. This level of cleanliness would be generally unacceptable elsewhere but we maintain a healthy level of cleanliness.  It is an almost sterile environment and very dry. We have no animal contact, dirt/mud or warmth so the dirtiness and bacteria encountered with camping or tramping at home is not an issue here.


Due to the creativeness of the team, we eat well. The food is dehydrated and frozen with an occasional supply of fresh food called “freshies”. We are near a penguin colony so we do not eat poultry as this could introduce disease. Because of the cold and high energy requirements, we eat substantial amounts of salami, cheese and chocolate. Fresh bread is cooked daily and the occasional cake.


Social interaction is key to healthy wellbeing. We have a lot of fun together with varied intellectual and humored conversation. Being busy working means our minds are always occupied. Sunday afternoons are a rest time which is stimulating and we would generally sit and watch a movie together. We have little opportunity to interact with family and friends at home. Calls can be made on the satellite phone although this is very expensive and difficult to fully engage in conversation with such short calls. We have daily radio communication with Scott Base Com’s to catch up on the news and pass on any messages.  I always remind myself that no news is good news. It is harder for the members of the team who have close family and are not used to this level of isolation. Personally I have enjoyed  the opportunity to be isolated from the high levels of social stimulus in my normal life. We concentrate and thrive on the fundamentals; personal social interaction, good food, shelter and warmth.

3

Captain Scott's only Grandson - Falcon Scott visits Antarctica, January 2012


Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s only grandson, Falcon Scott, is helping to conserve his grandfather’s most famous Antarctic base this Antarctic summer season as part of the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust’s team of conservation specialists. Falcon took time out to answer a few questions about his experiences and the achievements of his famous grandfather.

 

NZAHT Falcon at the head of the wardroom table.jpg


How does it feel to be visiting Antarctica on the centenary of your grandfather’s expedition?


It is really amazing to be here in the Ross Sea area of Antarctica where my Grandfather set up the bases for his two expeditions to explore the coast and interior of Antarctica. It’s especially good to be here at the 100th anniversary of his successful attainment of the South Pole for Britain.


Part of your work in Antarctica is helping to conserve the expedition Hut for the Antarctic Heritage Trust (New Zealand). What were your impressions on first entering the Hut, and how did it feel to be in the place they lived and worked?


The work to conserve the Terra Nova Expedition Hut at Cape Evans is in full swing. There are currently seven Antarctic Heritage Trust (New Zealand) staff living at the site in a camp, and working on the building. This year, the work is concentrated on the interior of the hut  -  the furniture, bunks and  shelves etc.  As a late arrival to the camp, after spending Christmas with my family, the guys were already on site working but had very kindly re-assembled the interior of the hut in an orderly state for me to see on arrival.


When I first went into the Hut, I found it to be a very moving experience.  On entering the main interior room, the wardroom table stretched ahead of me, with the chairs on each side standing empty, but in the same position as in the famous photograph of the midwinter dinner and my Grandfathers birthday dinner.  It felt like there was still a presence of my Grandfather and the men sitting round the table, like his spirit was there.   Around the corner to the left is the area where my Grandfather had his den, a partition wall on two sides enclosing his bunk, some shelves, and the desk where he planned the southern journey to the Pole. Wilson and Evans slept opposite, a few feet away. I spent an hour on my own in the Hut, just soaking up the atmosphere, it was magical, and personally a very emotional experience.


Given your background as a carpenter, what kinds of practical things will you be doing to help out?

 

My work in helping the team this year involves lining the latrines hut against the ingress of storm driven ice and snow (which can get through tiny holes and gaps in the building), using canvas and bitumen felt, and replacing the original felt lining using photography to re-position every detail authentically including the orientation of every nail. I will also be helping to preserve some of the sea ice sledges and working on furniture items in the hut.


Can you get a sense of how it must have felt like for Scott and his men exploring this vast unknown territory? 


When the Terra Nova arrived through the storm swept seas of the Southern Ocean, through the pack ice, and finally penetrated the seasonal continental ice sheet to reach a point suitable for access to the Ice Shelf and the interior, they were 2,500 miles from the nearest human habitation, with no contact to the outside world  -  no radios, or satellites, no helicopters, or planes to drop extra supplies. Their survival for a full year, including the extreme weather of an Antarctic winter rested on the stores they had planned for, and loaded on to the ship. In addition, they had all the equipment for the most ambitious and comprehensive scientific programme ever undertaken by an expedition ship.


The tragic fate of the polar party told in your grandfather’s last diary remains one of most famous stories of the last century. What did it mean to you when you were growing up?


As a child I didn’t hear very much about my famous Grandfather. I remember my mother reading to me the Ladybird book about the expedition, and my sister had told me that he was famous when I was about three years old. But my Father was not really very interested and very much pursued his life as a painter, naturalist, and conservationist.


Your father Peter Scott was a conservationist, heeding to his father’s advice to be interested in natural history, rather than games.  How important do you feel natural history and sciences were to Scott?

 

I think my Grandfather was influenced by his friend Edward Wilson who was a distinguished zoologist, and having worked on the development of torpedoes in the Navy, was well into research and science. He became more and more interested in natural history as time went on.

                                                                         
Your grandfather’s expedition brought back over 40,000 scientific specimens from Antarctica, which now reside in the Natural History Museum’s collections. Do you do you feel this scientific legacy might have been overshadowed by the story of their deaths?


I am sure there have been periods when the very considerable scientific achievements of my Grandfather’s expeditions have been forgotten and writers have concentrated too much on the polar journey and the deaths of the five men on the return.  This, of course, is significantly due to the recovery of his diary in the following spring by the search party, and to the exceptional writing ability of my Grandfather with the contents of that diary.  The fact is, they were unlucky; they had warm weather at the outset, making the conditions difficult for the ponies, exceptionally cold weather on the ice shelf on their return (a one in 40 year cold period), unexpected evaporation of fuel supplies caused by faulty seals at the supply depots, and a diet that did not replace lost calories fast enough. These things all put together sealed their fate.


Finally, Robert Falcon Scott’s image has been through many manifestations throughout the last century.  How would you like him to be remembered?


I would like him to be remembered as masterminding one of the greatest expeditions to have left European shores, and to have added significantly to the culture of expanding the knowledge of mankind, and for his example of thinking through a wide programme of study and his determination and endurance in the face of adversity to carry on the work to the highest standards.  And for this to be inspirational to future generations.

 

Watch a video about Falcon Scott's visit to the Terra Nova Expedition Hut at Cape Evans

0

Author: Jaime at Cape Evans
Date: 18 December 2011
Sunrise: NA
Sunset: NA

 

For both the artefact and building conservators working at Cape Evans, Herbert Ponting’s historic images are  one of the most valuable sources of information we have as to how Scott’s Terra Nova hut was built and used. The incredible quality of those original photographs and the ability to store them digitally, gives us a wonderful on-site resource for the task of restoring the fabric of the hut.

 

Unfortunately for us though, Ponting not did not set out to produce a precise record of the whole hut, its occupants and its environs, but that only makes the job of searching out information even more interesting, as the details we are looking for are usually incidental fragments of a far larger image. This has been the case in recent days for the reinstallation of the stove flue system and the acetylene lighting pipes, all of which hang up in the open roof space of the hut. It is unlikely that Ponting would have ever set up his camera simply to record the interior of the hut roof and yet nearly all the information we need appears somewhere in one of his images. Acetylene lamps float unnoticed over the heads of men lost in the celebration of a mid-winter dinner or stand insignificantly on a table, providing light for Wilson to work on his drawings. In other photographs, flue pipes lurk in darkened roof spaces while Evans bandages Dr Atkinson’s frost bitten hand and outside the hut, a chimney stack rises slightly askew from a distant roof, as a group pose for the camera before setting out on a journey to the Western Mountains.


It is difficult to emphasize not just how important these images are for the work of conserving the hut, but also what a pleasure it is to pore over hugely enlarged areas of a photo and to then finally discover the tiny detail you are searching for.

6

Author: John K
Date: 15 December 2011
Temperature: 0oC
Wind Speed: 1.8 Knots
Temp with wind chill: 0oC
Sunrise: N/A
Sunset N/A


While investigating a box of miscellaneous mechanical components outside the hut I came across this interesting little object, function unknown.


It is a flat sheet metal stylised figurine, 155mmm high and 75mmm wide, one arm outstretched, with one leg only that slides vertically with about 5mm travel. Behind the top of the leg is a punched hole, 6mm diameter. The original outline of the figure appears to be exaggerated front and back, possibly for balance?

 

Image 1. Mystery object, front view.jpg

Mystery object, front view. © AHT / John

 

Image 2. Mystery object, back view.jpg

Mystery object, back view.  © AHT / John

 


At the bottom of the leg are two cleats, possibly to hook over or on to something.

 

Image 3. Mystery object, side view.jpg

Mystery object, side view. © AHT / John


The figure is rusted and no markings or paint layers remain.


What is the function of this intriguing object? I have had suggestions such as: a child’s toy; an indicator that some process is completed, or some mechanical decoration on a clock.


Any suggestions as to its identity and function will be greatly appreciated.

0
Author: John
Date: 13 December 2011
Temperature: -7.2°C
Wind Speed: 5 knots
Temp with wind chill: °C
Sunrise: N/A
Sunset: N/A
Part of the Antarctic Heritage Trust conservation programmme is to conserve artefacts from Scott’s Terra Nova Hut over the winter. Artefacts are carefully packed and transported back to Scott Base where a team of four conservators will work on the artefacts in a specially provided conservation laboratory for return the following summer. Where the early explorers transported their supplies man hauling sledges, we use plastic cubers on sledges towed behind Hagglunds (tracked vehicles). The trip from Cape Evans back to Scott Base  is 25 km, travelling at 10 kph to ensure safe travelling for sometimes fragile artefacts.
Image 2.jpg
Loading artefacts in cubers on sledge © AHT/John
Transporting artefacts to Scott Base.jpg
Approaching Scott Base over the Sea Ice © AHT/John
0

Full circle

Posted by Conservators Dec 22, 2011

Author: Lizzie Meek
Date: 1 December 2011
Temperature: -1.4 oC
Wind Speed: 3 Kts
Temp with wind chill: C
Sunrise: N/A
Sunset N/A


LM blog image 1 resized.jpg
Cape Evans and snow © AHT/Lizzie

 

During the months of January-October whilst working in the AHT offices in Christchurch, I am often emailed queries and photographs (or as I like to think of them ‘presents’) relating to artefacts the conservators are working on at Scott Base over the winter months. But I still only see a small percentage of the some 1300 artefacts the team has handled during that time.
Now, here we are at Cape Evans in December, it’s snowing outside, and all of a sudden it feels like Christmas: John and I are unwrapping hundreds of objects to return them to their hut locations.


LM blog image 2 resized.jpg

A woollen jersey returned to Cape Evans this season © AHT/Lizzie

 

You get a very unique and interesting perspective on life in Antarctica 100 years ago when you see about 60 different pairs of socks in a row, some hand knitted, some machine-made, most of them darned or patched. We’ve been commenting on the limited colour palette of brown, grey, khaki, black and dark blue, and get quite excited by small flashes of bright colour. I like to think they took their polka dot Sunday socks home with them on the ship.

 

LM blog image 3 resized.jpg

A Wolsey sock on Day’s bunk © AHT/Lizzie

 

There’s a great sense of completion as we see objects returned to their place in the hut, with form and detail more fully revealed, but without removing the signs of age and use from the heroic era. So to the winter conservators, Sarah, Martin, Julie and Jane, thank you for your skill and hard work, and for my early Christmas presents!

0

Stormy Weather

Posted by Conservators Dec 8, 2011

Author: John
Date: 27 November 2011
Temperature: -2.1oC
Wind Speed: 8.5Kts
Temp with wind chill: -10oC
Sunrise: N/A
Sunset N/A


One of the aspects of Antarctica that fascinates me as a relative newcomer is the changeability of the weather conditions, sometimes over periods of less than an hour.


After spending two weeks working at Shackleton’s Nimrod Hut at Cape Royds, our camp transfer by helicopter to Scott’s Terra Nova Hut at Cape Evans was disrupted by wind and low visibility, and our team was split in half for 24 hours, Monday and Tuesday.


The Icebreaker, Kapitan Khlebnikov, kindly offered the team some showers, but even that was disrupted by changeable weather and low visibility. We all managed to have our showers though, and that was bliss after two and a half weeks without!


On Thursday and Friday we had very strong winds that make working outside at Cape Evans challenging, and sleeping ‘interesting’ with the wind noise and the tents flapping. Interestingly, the Scott Polar Tent double walled design has changed little from the original as used by Scott and has proved itself over the years well able to withstand strong winds.  I am very happy about that!

 

JK Stormy morning Saturday.jpg

Stormy Morning, Saturday. © AHT/ John

 

Yesterday morning things calmed down again, with only a slight breeze blowing.

JK After the storm Sunday.jpg

After the Storm, Sunday. © AHT/ John

 

This Sunday evening the wind is picking up again with the weather forecast to turn.


The transitions from wind and whiteout conditions (like being inside a ping-pong ball) to crystal calm and peaceful can sometimes be quite startling.

0

Author: John

Date: 13 November 2011
Temperature: -3.20C
Wind Speed: 12.5 Knots
Temp with wind chill: -6.7oC
Sunrise: None, the sun is always up in the sky in Antarctica at this time of the year.
Sunset None.

 

 

While undertaking conservation work at Shackleton’s Nimrod Hut at Cape Royds, Ross Island, Antarctica, I noticed this example of the expedition making do with whatever spare materials that were at hand. It highlighted for me the remoteness of the location, the distance from resupply sources, and the resourcefulness of the expedition members, This makeshift hoe was made from a spare mattock handle with part of a broken shoe last carefully and securely lashed to the end with rope. To tension the lashing a disused metal file was driven under the lashing. For some reason, this resourcefulness appealed to me.

JK Image 1 Improvised hoe.jpg

Improvised hoe © AHT/John.

JK Image 2  Detail of last and lashing method.jpg
Detail of last and lashing method © AHT/John.

0

Author: Lizzie

Date:  12 Nov 2011
Temperature: -7.7
Wind Speed: 14.9 gusting 20 SE
Temp with wind chill: -19

Last night we had the neighbours around for dinner ….yes, despite the isolation there is another camp about 500m away from us, where the American Penguin Scientists Dave, Katie and Jean will be based from mid November through to late January. They are part of an ongoing research programme which studies the penguin populations of Ross Island, looking at breeding habits, population statistics, feeding and foraging patterns and general health and habits of the birds. The colony here at Cape Royds is relatively small, being only about 2000 breeding pairs, but with the ice edge close by this year (about 1km from the colony), food is abundant, and the penguins are sleek and fat and just starting to lay their eggs.
LM blog 12 Nov Image 1.JPG

The sea ice and sea ice edge, Cape Royds © AHT/Lizzie

We enjoyed listening to Jean and Katie tell us about the penguins, and if you would like to know more they have an excellent website, including several penguin web-cams, which can be found at www.penguinscience.com
Meanwhile, whenever we have a calm evening you will find us out after work on the rocky outcrops above the penguin colony, watching the Adelies on their nests, and looking out for the smaller numbers of Emperors who come in to the sheltered spots below the Adelie colony to rest and preen.

LM blog 12 Nov Image 2.JPG  
Emperor penguins through binoculars © AHT/Lizzie

0

Author: Paula
Date: 15 November 2011

The Antarctic Heritage Trust conservators have recently moved from the confines of their conservation lab at Scott Base, to their Antarctic field camp at Cape Royds.

 

John bid farewell to winter conservator Sarah and welcomed the incoming team of conservation carpenters who work over the summer months on the buildings left behind by the heroic-era explorers.

 

The team is currently working at Ernest Shackleton’s British Antarctic (Nimrod) expedition 1907-1909 at Cape Royds. Communication is patchy when the team is out in the field. Although there is a satellite (sat) phone, the team relies on visitors who do literally ‘just drop in’ by helicopter with supplies and mail and who in turn relay information (including blogs) to Scott Base and New Zealand.

 

Cape Royds 2008 09 Season G Rowe.jpg

Ernest Shackleton's base at Cape Royds.  Credit:  G Rowe

 

The conservation team are completing a few tasks at Cape Royds, including relocating the Arrol Johnston wheel and Mawson’s Dredge which were conserved over winter 2011, before they move on to their main work programme this summer season conserving Captain Scott’s British Antarctic Terra Nova Expedition 1910- 1913 base at Cape Evans.

 

1981.110 Canterbury Museum.jpg


Each summer the team returns the artefacts that have been conserved during winter at the conservation laboratory at Scott Base back to the historic bases before packing up another 1,000 or so objects destined for conservation over the following winter. This continuous cycle of removal-conservation-return has led to over 5,400 artefacts from Cape Evans alone being conserved.

0

Cape Evans in Context

Posted by Conservators Oct 20, 2011

Author: John

Date: 19 October 2011
Temperature: -27°C
Wind Speed: 0 knots
Temp with wind chill: -27°C
Sunrise: 3.42am
Sunset 11.47pm

 

In 1910, Captain Robert Falcon Scott led the British Antarctic Terra Nova Expedition. One of the aims was to reach the Geographical South Pole. A hut at Cape Evans on the western side of Ross Island was the base for this expedition. In September 2011, as part of the Antarctic Heritage Trust’s responsibilities, Scott’s Terra Nova Hut was visited for the first time after yet another Antarctic winter, to provide a report on the building’s condition and snow buildup.

Terra Nova.jpg

Terra Nova Hut from the Sea Ice, 17 September 2011. © AHT/John


While overcast, this image is from the sea ice looking east to the southern flanks of Mt Erebus. Wind Vane Hill is just appearing to the right.


The second image is from the southern flanks of Mt Erebus, at a locality called ‘Room with a View’, looking west over the start of the Erebus Glacier.

Terra Nova Hut from the sea ice.jpg

View West from the Southern Flanks of Mt Erebus, 16 October 2011. © AHT/John

 

On a beautifully clear and sunny day, this image looks over McMurdo Sound to the Antarctic Continent. Inaccessible Island is to the left, with Little Razorback Island in front. Behind the dark bluff of Turk’s Head to the right is the thin strip of Cape Evans, with a grounded iceberg just off the Cape.
The two images complement each other well and accurately depict the loneliness and isolation of Scott’s Terra Nova expedition hut, particularly in 1910 with no communication back home, and the beauty and vastness of the Antarctic continent.

0

Antarctic Field Training

Posted by Conservators Oct 12, 2011

Author: John

Date: 12th  October 2011
Temperature: -19°C
Wind Speed: 8knots
Temp with wind chill: -29°C
Sunrise: 5.00am
Sunset 10.27pm


Image 1  Camp set up.jpg

Camp set up © AHT/John


All staff at Scott Base are required to undertake Antarctic Field Training. This includes conservators working on the Ross Sea Heritage Restoration Project, who often are required to work on-site at the historic huts. Training includes setting up an overnight camp, cold weather survival techniques and familiarisation with the environment.


Training is scheduled in advance, and the weather is the luck of the draw.


Our set up weather was benign, with -22oC temperatures and light wind conditions, but preparations need to be made for changes. Tents were erected, guyed and snow shovelled over the tent skirt to keep the wind out. A foot trench was dug inside the tent, a tarpaulin laid out on the snow and sleeping gear set up on either side of the trench. These tents have not changed much in design over the years, and are good at withstanding strong winds.

Our comfortable night’s sleep was awoken around 4.00am by a 20Kt wind blowing snow against the tent, with very white conditions outside.

Image 2  The morning after.jpg

The morning after © AHT/ John


Breakfast was held inside the ‘kitchen’ shelter prepared the previous day, and we were grateful for the protection from the wind.
Image 3.jpg

The Kitchen © AHT/John

 

This was a very valuable experience in being prepared for, and respecting, the Antarctic environment.

0

Water and Fire

Posted by Conservators Oct 6, 2011

Author: John
Date: 5th October 2011
Temperature: -24°C
Wind Speed: 0knots
Temp with wind chill: -24°C
Sunrise: 6.01am
Sunset 9.28pm

Liquid water!.jpg
Liquid water! © AHT

Liquid water in Antarctica is an uncommon commodity in winter, unless it is sea water, and even then it is mostly under thick ice.


Today for the first time since I came to the Ice on the 20th August I saw liquid water in the outside environment, even at an air temperature of  -27 degrees C. With the lengthening daylight incident solar energy increases. This is absorbed by any surface facing the sun, enough to melt snow on the northern walls of Scott Base. The water ran down the wall and then immediately refroze into icicles.

 

Acetylene generator.jpg
Acetylene generator (very corroded, and supported upside down for stability). © AHT


Yesterday I commenced treating an acetylene generator from Scott’s Terra Nova expedition hut at Cape Evans. This generator used water dripping onto calcium carbide to generate acetylene gas. The gas was then piped through the hut to be lit in various lamp fittings to provide illumination during the dark winter months. It was important that liquid water is available for this process to work.  So, even though the reaction generated heat, the tank needed to be insulated with Gibson quilting to prevent the water freezing. This was a layer of sea grass held between layers of hessian.

 

Liquid water was, and still is, very important to life in the Antarctic!

0

Sea Ice Formation

Posted by Conservators Oct 4, 2011

Author: Jane
Date: 30 September 2011
Temperature: -26°C
Wind Speed: 12 knots
Temp with wind chill: -40°C

 


This has been an unusual year for the sea ice around Scott Base. In March it broke out in front of the base for the first time since 1997. The sea ice began to form again soon after the ice floes were washed out of McMurdo Sound. It is now around 1.8m thick in front of the base.

 

Image 1.jpg

The ‘Big John’ crack extending out from Hut Point into McMurdo sound. This crack is now impassable. Mount Discovery to the right and Black Island to the left, with a mirage visible along the bottom.  Photo AHT/ Jane

 

 

Further North the sea ice is still moving, causing the formation of large cracks. We managed to get to Cape Evans to do our Winter Hut Inspection on September 17th, but we had to park the Hagglund a few hundred metres out from the shore due to cracks in the sea ice which were not safe to cross in a vehicle. A few days later it was impossible to get to this area, as cracks along the flagged route had opened up substantially. One of the cracks we crossed is now about 2.5m wide.

 

Image 2.jpg

Looking down on Terra Nova hut from Windvane Hill with the Barne Glacier in the background and the Hagglund parked out on the Sea Ice.
Photo AHT/ Jane

The edge of the sea ice is now close to Cape Royds which is much further South than it has been in recent years. It has been very warm this winter, with temperatures often in the range of  -10°C to -20°C.  This combined with the frequent stormy conditions has hindered the sea ice formation. The cut-off date for sea ice growth is usually mid-October so it is unlikely to improve enough to allow for vehicle travel in the area over the summer season. This will have an impact on our work.


To see out what our weather looks like on Ross Island you can check out the webcams at Scott Base, Arrival Heights and the windfarm by clicking on this link: http://www.antarcticanz.govt.nz/scott-base/webcams

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