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Antarctic conservation

35 Posts tagged with the ross_island tag
1

Blubber Pile

Posted by Cricket and Diana Jan 20, 2011

Author:          Diana

 

Date:             January 13, 2011
Temperature: -1 to -2 degrees celcius
Wind Speed: 15 knots (20-30 knott gusts)
Temp with wind chill: -roughly -8c
Sunrise: Sun is up all the time

 

There are no naturally occurring sources of fuel for heating or cooking available in Antarctica. It has therefore always been necessary to bring some source of fuel. Today we use LPG (propane) and furnace oil for heating and cooking. They come to Antarctica with the container ship in February every year.


During the Heroic Era of Antarctic discovery, coal and coal Bricketts as well as paraffin were brought down, but they also used something more local – seal blubber (fat). It was not as effective a heat source and left a sooty layer from its smoke but worked just the same.  See this image of Meares and Oates at the blubber stove, cooking food for the dogs, May 26th 1911.

 

The Ross Sea Party, stranded from their ship the Aurora when she broke free of her anchors in 1914-15, used primarily blubber for heating and cooking. There remains a pile of seal blubber at Cape Evans from this group. With the restoration work going on it was best to cover the pile but this week the table-like cover was removed. The surface was cleaned by picking the bits of scoria gravel, feathers and dust off.  A retaining dam was constructed around the pile of blubber to keep it intact. It is an amazing site and the aroma is quite distinctive.

Blubber pile resized.jpg

0

Posted by Cricket


Date: 11 December 2010
Temperature: -3C
Wind Speed: 11 knots

 


The storm Lizzie talked of lasted five days, beginning Wednesday evening and ending the following Monday morning.  High winds and blowing snow reduced visibility and made working, getting around camp and in and out of our tents a true effort.  Though exciting to have a good storm – there are several of us who enjoy such and secretly hoped for one down here – it was a relief for it all to be over and to finally get a chance to dry out our clothes and tents.

Carpenters in Snow.jpg
Carpenters working in the snow © AHT/Cricket

We are starting to wind down our time here at Sir Ernest Shackleton’s hut Cape Royds and this week we’ll be finishing up various conservation projects.  For the last several days we have been steadily working in the stables area, sewing down a cover over a stack of fodder bales to help preserve what remains and prevent further erosion from the wind and snow.

 

Covering Fodder Bales.jpg
Covering fodder bales © AHT/Cricket


Over the next couple days we’ll pack up camp and move to Captain RF Scott’s hut at Cape Evans.  We have almost a week at Cape Evans before returning to Scott Base for two weeks and Christmas.  I know I’ve said it before, but it is fantastic here at Cape Royds and I’m keenly aware of the time quickly ticking by.

1

100 year old oil

Posted by Cricket and Diana Dec 16, 2010

Posted by Diana

 

Date: December 4, 2010
Temperature: -6.8 degrees Celcius
Wind Speed: 16 knots with gusts of 20 knots
Temp with wind chill: -16 degrees Celcius


We are working at Sir Ernest Shackleton’s hut built at Cape Royds for his Nimrod expedition 1907-09. This Expedition brought an Arrol-Johnston Automobile to Antarctica in the hopes of using it to reach the South Pole.

PA1-Q-~3.jpg

Shackleton's hut at Cape Royds, Ross Island, Antarctica, showing the stables and garage, photographed 1907-1909 by an unknown photographer. The expedition's Arroll-Johnston motor car may be seen inside the garage. © Alexander Turnbull Library


The oil was a special blend created for the harsh Antarctic climate by the Price Patent Candle Company. The Automobile did not prove to be as useful as they had hoped so they did not use all the motor oil brought down. However, the crates of oil were very useful and created the walls for the garage that housed the automobile. These crates are still in place today but it was suspected that some of the cans may have started to leak as there was evidence of oil on the boxes. We did not want this oil to leak into the Antarctic environment so the crates were opened and discreet holes were made in the cans to drain the contents out. The cans have been placed back into the crates with the nest of straw they originally were packed in and once again create the walls of the garage.

 

fuel cans.jpg
Prices fuel tins in the crate. © AHT/Diana

0

Posted by Diana


Date: November 12, 2010
Temperature: 0 degrees celcius
Wind Speed: none
Temp with wind chill:
Sunrise: The sun is up
Sunset: The sun does not go down


We have been working at Captain RF Scott’s Terra Nova hut at Cape Evans, Ross Island for two weeks. While onsite we live in a camp not far from the hut with views of Mt Erebus and the Barn Glacier.

Resized PB080299.jpg

Dive hut with Erebus is the background © AHT/ Diana

 

Located close to our campsite is an American scientific event dive hut . A heated wanigan covers a diving hole which has been drilled into the ice.  You can see to the bottom 85 feet below, with krill and other small water creatures swimming round in the hole – a wonderful place to visit. This evening I walked across the sea ice from our camp on land to the hut. The snow has been blown off and the amazing warm weather and blazing sun have made the ice is so slippery you can almost skate with your boots.

 

Resized PB110394.jpg

Inside the dive hut © AHT/ Diana

 

I was in the hut with Stu, one of the Antarctic Field Trainers from Scott Base, watching the marine life and thinking wouldn’t it be fun if a seal swam by when one appeared – it was barreling towards the hole till it saw us and then it made a big “U” turn. We were completely startled as she came so quickly and then swam by, a beautiful dappled grey form sliding by the hole.

1

Posted by Cricket


Date: 22 September 2010
Temperature: -16 C
Wind Speed: 40 knots
Temp with wind chill: -43C
Sunrise: 6:33
Sunset: 19:03

 

On one clear and calm Sunday morning, several of us from New Zealand's Scott Base geared up with food and clothing, piled into the Hagglund and headed to Cape Evans for a day visit.  Cape Evans is the site of R.F Scott’s Terra Nova Hut, which was built in January 1911 as a base camp for his second and last Antarctic tour.  A lot of incredible stories come from this expedition, including Edward Wilson’s winter trek with two other men to an Emperor penguin colony at Cape Crozier and Scott’s attainment of the South Pole.  Unfortunately, Scott and his men all perished on the return.


It was a two hour trip that took us out over the sea ice and following the coast of Ross Island.  Due to a huge glacier in our path, we stopped short of the site and hiked the rest of the way in, taking the route that Scott’s men would have traversed.

WindVane Hill.jpg


Windvane Hill © AHT/Cricket


Our first look at the camp was from high up on Windvane Hill, where a cross stands commemorating 3 members of Ernest Shackleton’s Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition (1914-1916) who died in the vicinity in 1916.   We then hiked down and around the hut, admiring what a picturesque and well situated spot it is.  Finally, we unlocked the hut door and slowly stepped into the dim interior.  What a magnificent sight.  As I have often heard, it really does retain the remarkable feeling of Scott’s men having just stepped out.

Terra Nova Hut.jpg
Terra Nova Hut © AHT/Cricket


We quietly worked through the hut, studying the long, well-photographed dinner table, the bunks with handwriten notes and pictures drawn on the boards, and the galley stacked with jars and tins of food.  Without discussion, both Diana and I refrained from taking any pictures.  When talking about it afterwards, we found that we both wanted only the memory of our first visit.

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