|Mission Antarctica Field Reports - Week 8|
Page 10 of 17
Week 8, September 19-September 27, 2011
Week 8…amazing that two months have flown by- and yet we still have so much to do. This was unfortunately a week dominated not by boating but by weather, ship excitement, and a little bit of stir crazy. The Laurence M. Gould (the ship that brought us down here) arrived last weekend for the winter to summer crew changeover. The station was very busy and our station population went up by more than a third. The station activity dealt with three primary issues: 1) Station turnover- passing jobs from one person to another; 2) Offload of cargo and fuel for the next 6 months (see the energy and power video); 3) transfer to the ship of waxy fuel- fuel that isn’t suitable for burning in our generator and power plant. The real story this week was some awesome weather that kept a lot of people busy clearing snow, securing gear and trying to stay warm.
Last Sunday was the last day we were able to get out boating…a great trip out to Station E for sample collection and measurements. And then the ice came back and it got cold. So, for the rest of the report talk of the weather will do. Figure 1 is called a windrose plot. It shows data from our wind speed and direction instruments here on station. The bigger the pieces of pizza in the graph the more time the wind has spent coming from that direction. The blue slices mostly around the north directions are time at high wind speeds. At Palmer Station most of our weather, wind and most of the strong wind speeds are out of the North. Winds out of the South are not nearly as frequent. Wind speeds from our latest storm regularly were above 50mph gusting to 80 and were out of the north and NE. You can see the large increase in average wind gust since last week in the graph in Figure 2. These data don’t even include yesterday when things were really crazy but we’ve included a video of Austin touring the station during the snowstorm. Enjoy.
Our first six weeks on station have been marked by variable but cold weather and mostly calm conditions- perfect for ice formation. In figure 3 we've plotted the air temperature at Palmer Station since our arrival. There is little warming- just lots of ups and downs. The largest change we’ve seen since arriving is a large increase in day length and light intensity. Figure 4a is a plot of light intensity measured throughout the day on August 11th shortly after our arrival. Notice the amplitude (maximum height) and width (day length) of the plot. (If you are wondering why the times look "off" that is because we use "universal" or Greenwich mean time for all our instruments- that avoids any problems with daylight savings changes and allows us to sync all instruments to a very accurate time server.) On August 11th the maximum light (right around solar noon) was only 120 μmol photons m-2 s-1. Micro mole photons per meter squared per second is the measure of the quantity of light. In figure 4b the same data are plotted for this past Friday, September 23. Light at solar noon increases to almost 700 μmol photons m-2 s-1.
In our videos section there is also a great video of Deneb talking about our plankton nets.
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