Flats on Ice! McMurdo Station and Antarctica

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Photo montage of algae that Mak's team is studying.

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Minke and Orca
» View Slideshow


Penguins and a Whale
» View Slideshow


The Landscape
» View Slideshow


Flats on Ice! (New pix added!)
» View Slideshow

Minke and Orca!

A Minke and an Orca keep an eye on Mak's team as they take samples! Take a look at the slideshow to the right.

The Flat Boulevarders go ice camping!

Dear Students,

Last week we completed our sea ice and survival training, which involved camping out on the ice shelf overnight.  We built survival ice trenches, and igloos out of the snow.  We brought the Flat Boulevarders with us (see the pictures of the Flats on the wall).  We are sitting behind a snow wall we made to protect us from the wind.  The ice shelf is snow that has fallen and built up for many years.  We cut through the snow with saws and picked up large "bricks" of ice to make the wall.  Since it rarely gets above freezing here, the snow just keeps piling up on top of the land, and makes a very thick ice shelf.  This ice shelf then slides very very slowly off the continent and over the ocean.  So we (and the Flat Boulevarders) were actually camping on an ice shelf over the ocean!

Many of us slept in tents, but a few of us slept in the igloo or the survival trenches cut out from the ice.  It never really warmed up much inside those ice shelters, but at least we were protected from the wind.  We  heated up water and ate camping food out there.

Since then we've gotten back to the station and have started sampling for algae in the ocean here (see the sampling pictures in the Minke and Orca slideshow).  We're working on top of the sea ice over the ocean.  Now the sea ice is only about 6 feet thick.  We've been drilling through it to the ocean below and sampling the algae in the water.  There's also a lot of algae growing inside the ice itself, which is pretty amazing to see.  See to the right for a picture of some algae.

We also saw whales and penguins while we where out sampling.  We saw Minke whales and Orcas.  They came up to breathe through the hole in the ice nearby where we're working.  In the pictures is a Minke.  The penguins don't see people very often, so they're curious.  They watch us, and sometimes come closer to investigate what we're doing.  We saw two types of penguins, Adelies which are smaller and very common down here, and the Emperors which are bigger but rarer, and were featured in the movie March of the Penguins.  Please see the slideshow to the right.
Best wishes,


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Last updated February 4, 2009
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