Week 13: Field Report

OSAR

Week 14, November 1-6, 2011

Field reports are viewable alongside more photos, videos, data on Antarctica.dri.edu- check it out!

From shifting personnel to dramatically lengthening daylight hours, the team has witnessed many changes during our stay at Palmer Station. One characteristic however, has remained constant. 

The relentless battle between wind and ice for domination of the harbor has continued to define fieldwork for the team since our arrival. Ice and wind are the major obstacles that prevent us from boating and bringing home the field samples we so anxiously hope to collect at least twice a week. When ice in the harbor is either absent or maneuverable, the wind is often too violent to take the Zodiacs out. The moment the wind calms, the ice seems to return and this frustrating dynamic allows only brief windows for boating.

. The relentless battle between wind and ice for domination of the harbor has continued to define fieldwork for the team since our arrival. Ice and wind are the major obstacles that prevent us from boating and bringing home the field samples we so anxiously hope to collect at least twice a week. When ice in the harbor is either absent or maneuverable, the wind is often too violent to take the Zodiacs out. The moment the wind calms, the ice seems to return and this frustrating dynamic allows only brief windows for boating.

We left early Tuesday morning with Station E sampling on the pre-lunch agenda. Only five minutes after passing Bonaparte Point (just off of station) our engine cut out and could not be restarted. OSAR (Ocean Search and Rescue) suited up and met us on the water. Gram was unable to fix the problem on-site and so the OSAR zodiac had to tow us back to station for repair. Special thank you to Gram, Carolyn, and Mark for rescuing us!

Gram fitted our Zodiac with a working engine and fortunately, continued good weather meant we could retry after lunch. Iva, Deneb, and I sampled Station E with ease under calm conditions. Incidentally, during one of our plankton tows we collected a whole bunch of juvenile krill. One of the science groups on station studies these detrimentally important members of the ecosystem and per request, the krill were bottled up and brought home for data analysis. To learn more about krill, where they fit into the Antarctic food web, and to see the krill we caught in motion check out the Video Page.

We moved through the remainder of the week with regular sampling of the aquarium water and the continuation of our light adaptation experiment. A screen was removed from the cultures and an attempt to harvest RNA was made. Unfortunately, inadequate biomass within the three cultures resulted in unsuccessful RNA extraction during this round. Hopefully, the greater exposure to light (by removing a layer of screening) will mean faster cell division and an adequate level of biomass in time for the removal of the next layer of screening. Check out the video section for an explanation of this ongoing indoor experiment.

In other news, I finally completed the ‘Meet Joe’ and ‘Spring is Here’ videos that have been dominating my outreach time for awhile now. Chlorophyll measurements are on the rise suggesting the start of a plankton bloom and Deneb put together a nice grouping of chlorophyll data and further analysis that can be found in the Data Section. My fingers are tightly crossed for better weather, more field sampling, and in turn a more exciting field report for this upcoming week!