Week 14: Field Report

Iva collecting samples on the zodiac.

Iva collecting samples on the zodiac.

Week 16, November 15-21, 2011

Field reports can be read and enjoyed alongside photo slideshows, videos, data, and more at Antarctica.dri.edu.

The entire team has been busy as bees this week! Most of our work now consists of cleaning our workspaces, boxing up lab supplies, and securely packing chemicals and samples for a safe return trip back to the United States. It is a bit sad watching our labs revert back to the state we found them in four months ago. Sunday is our set departure date and we are officially done with most lab sampling and all fieldwork.

The light adaptation culture experiment carried on this week and will continue until the Thursday before our departure. On Tuesday, we fully sampled our cultures that were then operating under two layers of screening.  We took chlorophyll, cell counts, CHN, and fluorometry measurements and harvested the cultures for RNA. 

All of these measurements help give us a better understanding of stress levels and primary productivity within these diatom cultures as they adjust to changing light levels. The RNA collection is part of the functional genomic tier of our project and once sequenced, will provide insight into how these six studied species of diatoms responded to changes in light intensity on a molecular level. To learn more about this experiment check out the video section or review past field reports.Our field season culminated in one final and intense day on Wednesday. The team set out with the intention of conducting a full 24-hr diel experiment (similar to the work we conducted at the ice hole in October). The plan was to zodiac out to Station E and collect a full CTD profile (70 meters deep), and plankton samples from 10 meters deep at 9am, 1pm, 5pm, 9pm, and 1am. Rapidly moving ice prevented us from conducting the 9pm and 1am sample sets. The samples we were able to collect were and will be analyzed for their species composition, primary productivity, and their transcriptomes to see if and what changes occurred between 9am and 5pm.

This week marked our final sampling week as B466 here at Palmer Station, Antarctica. This season has certainly had many ups and downs- from a cold, dark, and almost entirely iced-in beginning, to a warmer, much brighter, and still often iced-in end. We have sampled through holes in the ice, in zodiacs atop both rough swells and still and silent seas, in the company of icebergs, seals, porpoising penguins, whales, seasick comrades, and snow. We have sampled in cold dark refrigerated rooms, in the wake of both the Laurence M Gould and Nathaniel B Palmer, from cultured and wild diatoms at all hours of the day and late into the night.  All of this hard work is not only embodied in the tiny test tubes and other various samples currently being packaged up for shipment but, will also be retained in the countless memories the team have exuberantly collected over the past four months.

This upcoming and final week at Palmer will be incredibly hard. We are forced to give up the lives we built here in this quaint and kind station, on this mysterious and beautiful continent, and among some of the most selfless and