Mission Antarctica Field Reports - Week 15

Field Report

Week 15, November 7-14, 2011

The Laurence M. Gould arrived to Palmer Station late Monday night bringing a few new station members (including two ‘birders’ here to study the penguins) and fresh food. The ship left early Wednesday morning to carry out a few science related trips and is set to return to Palmer and pick us up two weeks from today. The Gould’s presence- although fleeting- was a gentle reminder to the team that our time here is rapidly ending. With that in mind, we were busy in the field and the lab this week collecting samples and further preparing for our departure. 

Our Light Adaptation Experiment continues and the first layer of screening was removed on the night of November 4th. Since the removal and in turn an increased exposure to light for our diatom cultures, DT03 has joined DT11 in rapid growth. DT10 continues to maintain a constant cell number and photosynthetic response (determined by fluorometry measurements taken at 4- hr intervals). The purpose of this indoor experiment is to collect controlled data in a lab setting to better understand how diatoms adapt to changing light conditions in their natural setting.

Click images to enlarge
The Zodiac is lowered into the harbor Charismatic gentoo penguin Blue ice Deneb to the rescue
Zodiac is lowered into harbor (Iva)
Charismatic gentoo penguin (Deneb)
Blue ice (Deneb)
Deneb to the rescue (Bethany)

DataHere on the Antarctic Peninsula, light changes dramatically both in length and intensity from winter to spring. Since our arrival in August the team has both observed and measured these changes first hand.  Shifts in light intensity, day length, and UV projection through the water column are illustrated on the graphs compiled by Deneb.

The remainder of lab time this week was spent carrying out regular weekly and daily measurements, further organization of data, and continued care of Deneb’s isolate cultures. Deneb isolated and cultured individual cells early on in the season that have since rapidly grown to many thousands of cells per ml. These cultures are transferred to larger flasks with more medium to maintain log phase and ensure continued growth. Prior to leaving Palmer, these cultures will be harvested for RNA.

As far as field sampling this week- although we were able to sample both Tuesday and Friday, neither trip ran quite as smoothly as the team has come to expect. Deneb, Iva, and Austin headed out to Station E on Tuesday where they were greeted by larger than normal swells. Iva quickly fell victim to sea sickness and was incapacitated for the remainder of the trip leaving Austin and Deneb to finish sampling.

Friday sampling with Austin, Deneb, and myself was even less glamorous. Austin and I were only able to lower the CTD and PUV before the intense swells knocked us both off our feet and rendered us useless for depth collection and plankton tows. Deneb valiantly finished sampling and drove us home through extremely windy conditions (gusts of 30 knots). The wind relentlessly blew salt water across the zodiac and soaked all three of us to the bone. Deneb unfairly received the brunt of the water as she steered us home through wind, ice, failing radios, and a fuel turnover. Needless to say, Austin, Iva, and I have all garnered new respect for both the power of the sea and our tough leader- Deneb Karentz.

-Bethany Goodrich

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