Thursday, December 23, 2010

Mummified seals!

From 2010-11-19 Hike to Parera
Seals periodically get lost and wander into the Dry Valleys from the sea ice. There is a stream named "Lost Seal Stream" in Taylor Valley because someone found a lost Weddell seal there in 1990 and it was rescued with a helicopter. Most lost seals aren't so lucky, and they can travel pretty far into the Dry Valleys before succumbing to exhaustion. It is very cold and dry and the seal carcasses are preserved pretty well. This picture is from near the Canada Glacier near Lake Fryxell about an hour hike from our camp. This location is probably a 4 or 5 hour hike from the sea ice for a person so this seal must have been very lost.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Meyer Desert

From 2010-12-14 Meyer Desert
Our last field trip of the season was to Meyer Desert. As far as I know, this is the southernmost bare-earth desert on the planet at more than 85 degrees south. This desert is surrounded by glaciers and is basically a bare patch of rock and soil that is sticking up through the ice. The rocks here are really old, and have been eroded by wind and blowing sand.
From 2010-12-14 Meyer Desert
Wind eroded rocks, like the one above, are called ventifacts.

Happy Holidays

Hi folks. I want to thank Mrs. Radner's fourth grade class for all of their great questions and comments. I realize everyone is about to go on break, but I'll continue to post pictures. I will also try to make a layer for Google Earth with my pictures for people to download. I'll create a post for that when I have it done.

I also want to welcome the fifth graders, and answer some of your questions. I didn't see many animals when I was in the desert or camping on the glacier. I did see a penguin when I was camping on the sea ice. It seems that most animals are near the coast. In the Dry Valleys there are some mummified seals that got lost and wandered into the desert and were basically freeze dried from the cold, dry environment (and turned into seal jerky). When I sleep in a tent I usually get it to myself. We take a tent for each person out to our camp because we usually get a helicopter ride to the camp site so we are not limited by what we can carry.

There are various Christmas celebrations on station, and out at the field camps. Some of the people here at McMurdo station are putting on a Charlie Brown Christmas play. There is also a special dinner in the cafeteria on holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. There are plenty of decorations around the station. Out at the field camps people usually celebrate holidays as well. I know out in the Dry Valleys one of the camps is inviting people from all the other camps in the valleys over for dinner.

Thanks for all of the questions. I haven't made it through all of them yet so I'll post more answers, and hopefully some pictures too, later today.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Summer Time in McMurdo

Hi everyone,
I just made it back from the Central Transantarctic Mountain (CTAM) field camp, and I'm now back at McMurdo. I will write more about CTAM later. I didn't update while I was down there because we didn't have internet access.

I just checked the weather and realized that McMurdo Antarctica is only 5 degrees colder than Miami right now. It's 41 degrees F in Miami and 36 degrees F in McMurdo. Livonia, Michigan is much colder than both places at 24 degrees F right now. It's really starting to feel like summer here in McMurdo!