Saturday, 13 October 2012

SIPEX-II Update, from 27 September

Molly has supplied some more stories from the SIPEX-II voyage. As you can imagine it's a very busy period (hence the delay in receiving these) but the updates are worth the wait!  Due to data limits on messages from the Aurora Australis, photos follow separately.  So we'll get them posted once they're received.
27th Sep, Day Thirteen
Wind: 0.2 knots
Air temperature: -15

First successful ice station! (or the 2nd official ice station)

After one day drifting from the last ice floe, we finally settled
down on another good size, good condition ice floe. The Stationing

Followed by the safety check by Klaus and Psycho, all groups with all the fancy equipment set feet on the ice. It is very interesting to see, within this small area with a thickness of 35cm wind pack snow covering on 100cm thick sea ice, scientists on board found all their interest from different perspectives.

The 35cm snow served physicist for their research interest on snow
thickness, snow density, albedo of snow, and carbon evidence of
atmospheric pollution within the snow, and the snow-wind interaction. The sea ice underneath was more interested by biologists. (Exception: One group of physic statists are interested how fast brine comes into ice) Lots of ice core taking, accompanied with incubation of sea ice community. The sea ice biologists/ecologists are trying to find out how the sea ice structure, and how this structure related to the biology community living in the sea ice.

[picture: taking ice core]

There is also a trace-metal team focusing on the trace metal in the
snow and sea ice. They need to travel a long distance to be far away
from everyone to avoid contamination. We will leave their story until next time.

Water column is interested by a mixed group of biologists (I’m one of them) and physicist. We have two expensive fancy “toys” on board to investigate what the underwater world looks like beneath the sea ice.  They are ROV, Remotely Operated Vehicle, and AUV, Automotive
Underwater Vehicle. These two vehicles travelled around under the
ice, and brought back high-resolution images and videos of the world
hiding underneath our feet. Sure they are scientific equipment more
than just an under-water camera; please move to Wendy’s blog to read
more about their science objective.

We biologists are planning to discover how the under-ice community
structured and how it works. All those amazing creatures we could
see, like whales, seals, penguins and fish, are living on the tiny
plankton in this ecosystem. It is another amazing world in the
plankton community. Please be patient for some great photos of the
plankton world coming soon. Today we are going to focus on people on
the ice.

[picture: tripod]

We dig holes on the ice, and put equipment, nets and pumps under
water in hope to grab as much information as we can from the water.
Three of our zooplankton and phytoplankton boys set up a 3m tripod on the ice for deployment. We also have two pumps, one flied from
Germany and one from U.S., specially designed for krill pumping. The
pump from U.S. was purchased by Australian Antarctic Division and
most of the setting up was designed by Rob King, our great brilliant
krill biologist.

Krill pump explosion

[picture: krill pump]

The reality crashes into our brilliant plan, as the old saying. We
found a really nice spot for krill pumping. It took us more than half an hour to set up everything. The German pump started pumping with all of our hope. Half way through, we stopped the pump to check what we got, and 5 min later, started again, and suddenly it EXPLODED!!!!

The seawater froze in the pipe and stuck, and the pump vacuumed all
the air from the little chamber, and this is the reason for the
little explosion.

Luckily no one hurt, but pumping for today became impossible. The
krill group is facing some unhappy situation.

More information about SIPEX-II is available through the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre website.

And the blog of Dr Wendy Pyper, science reporter for the Australian Antarctic Division, who is covering the expedition.

1 comment:

  1. The journey was too tough to say. But they were finished their journey which proves their strength.
    Very good.