Monday, November 19, 2012

Bob Arrives and Pressure Ridge Tour

Monday morning, we piled back onto two Deltas for the ride out to LDB. We spent the day working on the same types of things we've been doing--I fixed a few glitches in some of the software I'd written the other day and wrote a new script to let us read out the number of events that have triggered various parts of the instrument. JohnE kept working on fine-tuning the voltage settings for our Photomultiplier Tubes (PMTs) while work on the insulation continued and Richard and Makoto played around with some other settings on the instrument. 

In the afternoon, the C-17 carrying the Super-TIGER Principle Investigator, Bob Binns, was due in at the sea ice runway. Since I hadn't seen one of these planes land yet (we got to see one taking off during Happy Camper School), I went out with Dana, Richard, Sean, and JohnE to watch this one land. We knew to within about 5 minutes when it was going to happen, and eventually were able to see a speck in the distance. I watched it land through the zoom lens on my camera because it was pretty far away, but it was still a pretty cool sight to see.

The highlight of the day was a trip over to the pressure ridges near Scott Base. These are formations of ice that result from the combination of glacial ice coming off the island, the ice shelf slowly drifting, and the seasonal Sea Ice pushing back. Essentially, a small ridge of ice is formed by the different forces and slowly gets bigger. Eventually, it will break open and leave what's left to be subjected to the wind and blowing snow. There are some pretty awesome structures that come out of this.

Scott Base maintains a trail through the pressure ridge area, and checks it for safety every three days or so. Because things shift relatively quickly out there, the trail has to be moved often. We saw a lot of areas where there were footsteps leading right up to a giant crack.

One really cool thing was the meltwater lakes that form. These small, shallow pools of water form when the snow melts and pools up or when saltwater comes up through a crack in the ice. They also look a lot like still mountain streams. If it weren't for the fact that the water wasn't flowing and that the top was frozen, it would have been hard to pinpoint exactly where these pools were. 

We also saw two seals out on the ice taking a nap and lounging in the sun. The coolest part was when we were walking on some ice and our guide, Kish, stopped us and told us to be quiet. We then heard a seal or two underneath the ice calling up to the surface. It was a really cool noise to hear, and kind of weird knowing there were seals and other creatures living right underneath our feet.

There are many, many more photos of our trip to the pressure ridge tour here. It was one of the most amazing things I've done since I got here.

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