This blog and web site has been set up by Drs. J.P. Walsh and Reide Corbett, leaders of the Sediment and Solute Transport on Rivers and Margins (SSTORM) Research Group. Corbett and Walsh are faculty at East Carolina University and the UNC Coastal Studies Institute. Support for our research has been provided by the National Science Foundation, NOAA, the State of North Carolina, the Renaissance Computing Institue, East Carolina University and other entities.
Friday, March 14, 2014
the tip of South America, only the Drake Passage stands in our way. We
are all hoping for fare seas!
The last three days or so has been yet another adventure. Prior to
setting sail from Palmer Station, we had to collect one more sample from
a recently exposed waterfall beneath one of the nearby glaciers. We
just can't seem to quench our thirst of science!! And, of course, we
couldn't leave this polar place without a Polar Plunge! Oh yes, it is
tradition to take a dip in the cold waters while you are here! As
encouragement to my crew, I vowed to don my best Superman outfit I could
come up with and take the plunge for the first time this season (I
plunged several times last season, including a ~75 meter swim across
Hero Inlet). Yes, the Superman idea was sort of a running joke of the
many superhero t-shirts I seem to wear… The plunge was great…note
the others that jumped with Superman (Kim Null, Ian Conery, and David
Young)…the hot tub afterward was even better!
We set sail on the morning of the 10th and headed for Primavera, an
Argentinian Base not too far from Palmer. It was a nice cold, snowy
morning when we arrived. Several of the techs onboard went ashore to
download some data loggers monitoring permafrost near the base. From
there, we headed to Cape Shirreff to break down a NOAA camp that has
been studying seals, penguins, and other birds in the area. This was a
We arrived the morning of March 12th. The weather was pretty
poor…wind, snow, and very low visibility. This makes it difficult to
do zodiac operations, especially when the approach to the "beach" is
through a nice rocky reef on either side. So, we held off until the
afternoon when it cleared some. I was lucky to be chosen to help with
the zodiac ops…I was the bow man. Here is how it went: the zodiac
leaves the LMG with a large cargo net, shoots the rocky reef entrance,
hits the beach, then fills the net with all the gear, trash, samples,
etc. waiting on the beach. Then, we motor back to the LMG and attach
the cargo net to a crane that lifts the gear out of the zodiac, grab
another net, repeat (about 10-15 times). Sounds simple, right! OK, now
do this in 30 mph winds, snow, sea spray, and 8-10 ft swells
(particularly interesting when you are up against a 230 ft vessel in a
16 ft zodiac. Needless to say, it was exciting!!
We worked for about 3 hours before the weather deteriorated to the
point where we couldn't see more than about ¼ mile, making it even
more difficult. So, operations were suspended for the day in hopes of
better weather the following morning. We were able to get most of the
gear and the 6 scientist to the ship before it got too bad, so it was a
pretty good day.
The next morning (March 13th) was picture perfect. Really…no sarcasm
here. The sun was out, light breeze and good viability! Truly a
perfect day for our last Antarctic experience. In fact, it was an
incredible day to see the wildlife. From baby fur seals to feeding
leopard seals, it was an amazing morning! One I will not soon forget!
As I write, we have entered the Drake. The rolling waves pitch the LMG
to and fro…I hope for a gentle crossing and look forward to seeing
many of you soon!
I would like to give a special thanks to the Captain and Crew of the
LMG, the MPC – Adam Jenkins for all the orchestrating, the MTs –
Krista Tyburski and Ryan Wallace for all the great deck and zodiac work,
as well as many behind the scenes hours to make our research go off
without a hitch, the ETs – PQ (Paul Queior) and Kevin Pedigo for
getting the Rosette to finally behave, the MLT – Cara Ferrier for
dealing with our lab mess, and of course all the station personnel at
Palmer Station. None of this would be possible without you! THANK YOU!