The Anslope Expedition: Daily Log From Dr. Robin Robertson

Robin Robertson, Doherty Associate Research Scientist with the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, is doing educational outreach with the 5th and 6th grade classes at George Grant Mason school in Tuxedo, NY. Below are her daily updates for the students, sent from the R/V Nathaniel B. Palmer, which is traveling between New Zealand and the Antarctic for the third ANSLOPE cruise.

December 1: It is 22:03 on Nov 30 GMT or 11:03 our time on Dec 1.
We are at 68 17' 43" S, 178 50' 52" W.
The air temperature is -4.4 C and the water temperature is -1.81 C.
It is a beautiful sunny day and we are in thin ice/slush.

We did our last CTD last night, finishing it about 11:30 and finishing taking the samples from the bottles about 12:30 this morning (we worked past our shift a bit). We are now headed for the barn (or for Lyttleton, New Zealand). We are taking surface samples and doing XBT's every so often. We are also writing the cruise report and packing. We expect to be there on Dec 9, 10 or 11. They are not sure. The last CTD was our deepest one, 3800 m.

Cheers and study hard.


November 30: It is 21:56 on Nov 29 GMT or 10:56 our time on the 30th.
We are at 70 30' 57" S, 177 51' 12" W.
The air temperature is -4.3 C and the water temperature is -1.76 C.
It is a partly cloudy day and we are still in the ice.

The ice was heavy yesterday. We were only able to do a couple of CTD's. Today we will hopefully do a XBT and the last CTD, and then start heading for home, sampling and doing XBT's along the way.

That's about it. We expect to be in port Dec 9, three days early, although storms or thicker ice could slow us down. The ice edge is at about 66 S, so we have about 4.5 degrees of latitude of ice (or ~500 nautical miles of traveling through ice of various thicknesses to go.

Cheers and study hard.


November 29: It is 21:32 on Nov 28 GMT or 10:32 on the 29th our time.
We are at 72 6' 57" S, 176 45' 3" W.
The air temperature is -5.1 C and the water temperature is -1.74 C.
It is a cloudy day.

We are still doing CTD's. Tomorrow will probably be our last day of working in the study area, because we are getting low on fuel. Then we will head back, which will take 9-10 days, taking surface samples and doing XBT's along the way.

Cheers and Study Hard.


November 28: It is 23:03 on Nov 27 or 12:03 our time on the 28th.
We are at 73 42' 20", 175 52' 40" W.
The air temperature is -3.8 C and the water temperature is -1.75 C.
It is a partly cloudy day.

Still doing the same thing, CTD's. Yesterday, we saw a large pod of killer whales - about 20, 6 of which were males. They stopped the ship and put a zodiac (12' rubber boat with an engine) overboard. Six people went out to get close pictures, but the whales swam in a different ice lead than we were in. The ship tried to break a path through the ice for the zodiac, but there was too much ice, so the zodiac got stuck. They didn't get any better pictures of the whales, but they did pick up a dead fish off the ice. I took a picture of the fish. Also one of the whales, but it just looks like a black speck.

November 26: It is 21:54 on Nov 25 GMT or 10:55 our time (New Zealand) on the 26th.
We are at 74 41' 36" S, 79 29' 55" W. (Note the W)
The air temperature is -2.8 C and the water temperature is -1.75 C.
It is a cloudy day at the moment. We are still in ice, with lots of leads
and thin patches.
The ice is melting.

Overnight, we passed over the International Date Line (roughly 180 E or 180 W). We are still operating on New Zealand time and not the time zone we are actually in, so the longitudes are West instead of East and our real time zone is 6 hours later than you on the same day. So our real time is 9:54 on Nov 25. Therefore, it is Thanksgiving Day again for us--but we won't have turkey again and we will still have to work. We have stayed on New Zealand time. When we are south and the sun doesn't go down, it doesn't really matter.

Cheers and Study Hard.


November 25: It is 21:24 on Nov 24 GMT or 10:24 on Nov 25 our time - Happy Thanksgiving.
We are at 73 4' 41" S, 177 10' 10" E.
The air temperature is -2.5 C and the water temperature is -1.79 C.
It is a cloudy day. We are still in ice, but there are lots of leads( open
water) and the ice is generally relatively thin, although there are thick
patches, which we avoid.

We did CTD's yesterday. Had a really interesting one. We started the line across the slope and the other watch finished it. We are traveling to the start of a new line right now. We will do a CTD later (in about 4 hrs). That will be the first CTD of yet another line across the slope. We call the lines across the slope transects. Yes, we work on the weekends and on Thanksgiving Day, and if I was out here, I would work on Christmas. Ship time is expensive and we can't waste it by taking a day off. We will probably have turkey for lunch, which is about an hour from now. I just got up an hour and a half ago, so it is a bit early, but I will survive. I will miss watching football though. I plan to take a long vacation in Dec in New Zealand to make up for basically working for 2 months straight. I have never been there before. I am starting to get excited about it, it is about 2 weeks away.

Cheers and Study Hard,


November 24: It is 22:04 on Nov 23 GMT or 11:04 on the 24th our time.
We are at 72 18' 38" S, 173 20' 7" E.
The air temperature is -2.2 C and the water temperature is -1.75 C.
It is a cloudy day at the moment.

We just finished doing Vampire ops and are heading to do another line (transect) of CTD stations. I took a movie of penguins swimming yesterday. There were 2 emperors and a bunch of Adelie's hanging around where we were working. With the Vampire ops, we stay in the same place for a long time (this time 24 hrs). Today it is back to CTD's and steaming (traveling).

Cheers and Study Hard.


November 23: It is 21:57 on Nov 22 GMT or 10:57 our time on the 23rd.
We are at 72 13' 68" S, 172 59' 21" E.
The air temperature is -3.5 C and the water temperature is -1.74 C.
It is a cloudy overcast day.

Today we are doing vampire ops (ops=operations). The Vampire measures the turbulence in the water column also it measures temperature and salinity on a finer scale - cm or mm as opposed to the CTD, which is more like a m scale. Finally saw some orcas yesterday, but they were too far to photograph.

That is about it. Happy Turkey Day in a couple days.

Cheers and Study Hard.


November 22: It is 21:56 on Nov 21 GMT or 10:56 our time on the 22nd.
We are at 72 7' 26" S, 172 25' 13" E.
The air temperature is -3.6 C and the water temperature is -1.67 C.
It is a sunny day with some light clouds at the moment.

We can still see land, but it is now in the distance. We did a bunch of CTD's yesterday. We found warm water on the shelf, which surprized me a bit. We are looking for the location where it comes on the shelf. And we are also looking for evidence of mixing processes. I was in the lab all day and didn't see any penguins, seals or whales. Well back to work.

Cheers and Study Hard.


November 21: It is 21:23 on Nov 20 GMT or 10:23 our time on the 21st.
We are at 71 22' 28" S, 172 39' 5" E.
The air temperature is -5.1 C and the water temperature is -1.81 C.
It is a beautiful sunny day.

Well, we arrived at the study area about 10 last night and started doing CTD's. They did several last night. I expect we will be doing CTD's solid for the next week to 10 days. Then we will have to leave, because our time will be up. Saw lots of penguins, and took a very short movie. The batteries on the camera went dead because of the cold. Also we can now see land - Cape Adare and Robertson Bay.

That's all for now.

Cheers and study hard.


November 20: It is 21:36 on Nov 19 GMT or 10:36 our time on the 20th.
We are at 70 30' 3" S, 171 11' 23" E.
The air temperature is -4.4 C and the water temperature is -1.83.
It is sunny out. We are still in ice, but it is finally getting thinner.

We are still.... transiting. We expect to be transiting all day today. Maybe at the end of our watch we will finally be to the study site and can start our real work. The ice was very thick yesterday and there was a lot of pressure in it. It was very hard to get through. We made 8 nautical miles in 4 hours. That is real slow. We can all walk faster. I used to swim that fast. But this water is too cold to swim in. Saw a group of 40 Adelie penguins yesterday. Got some good pictures and a couple very short movies - until the camera batteries got too cold and the camera shut down.

That is all.

Cheers, Study Hard

November 19: It is 22:08 on Nov 18 GMT or 11:08 our time on the 19th.
We are at 69 54' 57" S, 169 38' 35" E.
air -2.7 water -1.84 C
It is a partly cloudy day outside. We are in pretty thick ice with a thick snow cover at the moment, but it changes about every 10 min.

Well the storm went by. But during it, we drifted away from our study region. We are now yet again in transit to the study region. We hope to be there tomorrow and start the real work. It has been a long time waiting to get really started. That's it. We aren't doing XBT's or surface sampling. I am just doing work on my other stuff.

Cheers, study hard.


November 17: It is 21:16 on Nov 17 or 10:16 our time on the 18th.
We are at 70 12' 18" S, 169 49' 11" E.
The air temperature is -3.5 C and the water temperature is, well it is
-1.8? The sensor broke yesterday, so I can't tell you exactly. Hopefully
they will fix it soon, but they many not be able to fix it until we get to
port. We'll see.

We are in a big storm. Actually we are on the edge of it and it is heading our way. But the ship isn't able to make headway against the winds and ice, so we are drifting with a big piece of ice. The winds are 40-50 kts ( or 47-58 mph) with gusts above 60 kt (69 mph). 70 mph is the official level for hurricane. So if it gets worse, we may have low level hurricane winds. It has been this way for most of a day. We were able to do 1 CTD yesterday and that was all. But since we are in the ice, there are no waves. It is not bumpy. You just will be blown away if you go outside. So we are staying in again. Also the visibility is poor, so we are unlikely to see wildlife. I will try though. That's all. We can't do any CTD's or XBT's until the storm goes by. So we are just standing by (waiting) or hanging out.

From south of the Antarctic circle, Robin

November 16: It is 22:28 on Nov 16 GMT or 11:28 our time on the 17th.
We are at 70 6'1" S, 172 10' 29" E.
The air temperature is -3.4 C and the water temperature is -1.845 C.
It is cloudy outside, snowing and the ice is thick and hard - We are still in heavy ice.

Well the heavy ice is slowing the ship down. One time we only went 3 miles in 3 hours. Ok, we went further, but our track looked like a loopy knot. The ice is hard for the ship to get through and we do lots of backing and ramming alternating with finding leads (open water) which don't quite go in the right direction. In other words, we are getting there, but not quickly or directly. They just finished a CTD and we did an XBT on our last watch and probably will do one today. Soon we will start doing stations quick again. Yesterday, we had a slide show on Manchupictu - an ruined Inca city. Today we will have one on mountaineering and glacier rescue. The topics vary on where people have been for vacation. Cheers, Robin

P.S. They are having some trouble with the satellite transmission for email. There are spots or time down here where we can't get a satellite. So if I am late, it is probably due to that. The emails will come through eventually.

November 15: It is 22:11 on Nov 15 GMT or 11:11 on Nov 16 our time.
We are at 69 20' 58" S, 174 49' 47" E.
The air temperature is -3.7 C and the water temperature is -1.826 C.
It is cloudy outside and we are in heavy thick multi-year ice.

Well, the ice is thick, so the ship goes pretty slow. They try to find leads (pieces of open water) to drive through, because that is much quicker and saves fuel. But sometimes they have to go through the thick stuff. And to do that they back and ram. They go as far as they can, then when the ship can't go anymore they stop. Then they back up, get up some speed and ram into the thick ice that stopped them. It is bumpy, but smaller bumps than when we are in the rough seas. It is more like the whole ship is vibrating. And it is noisy when we are in the ice, especially in the mess hall. You can't hear anyone talk. So the ship can go 13 kt in calm weather with light seas. In the heavy ice, we sometimes average more like 1-3 kt. And I know even 13 kt is not very fast a kt is a little more than a mile per hour. So the ship goes 15 mph at the fastest. People ride their bikes faster than that. Even I ride my bike at that speed much of the time. And in the heavy ice, I walk as fast (or faster) than the ship goes. But I can't ride my bike or walk over the ocean. And someone is always driving the ship, 24 hrs/day. So we eventually get places. Right now, we are hoping to get to the study site in a day or two. At the moment, we are getting bored. We do one CTD station every degree of latitude (which is about 60 nautical miles). This is about every 5-6 hrs at the fast speed, and about every 10-15 hrs at the speed we are going now. So we aren't working very hard. In between, I made up a science contest for you guys. I will give it to you when we get back. It is too big to send on the net (it exceeds the size I am allowed).

Yesterday, some people saw orcas. They took a video. I will try to get it for you. I was in the lab and no one told me they were there. So I didn't see them or take a picture. I went to the bridge several times in case they saw more, but they weren't there. The orcas eat the penguins and seals. I did see a penguin or two yesterday. Cheers. Robin

November 14: It is 21:56 on Nov 14 GMT or 10:56 our time on the 15th.
We are at 67 59' 20" S, 177 54' 53" E.
The air temperature is -5.3 C and the water temperature is -1.82 C.
It is partly cloudy and we are in thick multi-year ice.

Well, you may have noticed that we are now south of the Antarctic circle and officially in the Antarctic again. Although we generally consider all of the territory covered in the Antarctic treaty as the Antarctic (south of 60 is what's covered). Since it is late spring here now, it never really gets dark. The sun doesn't go all the way under the horizon, so it doesn't really set. It will stay higher and higher until Dec 22. We will be back in New Zealand by then (we are due back the 12th, the ship sails again on the 15th.). The other watch is doing a CTD (number 85) at this moment. Otherwise we are doing the same thing as we have done the last few days. I did see a couple penguins yesterday, but they were too far for pictures. Now we are pretty far into the ice and the wildlife is pretty scarce. Hopefully when we get further south nearer to land, we will see more wildlife again. Cheers, Robin

November 13: It is 21:33 on Nov 13 GMT or 10:33 our time on the 14th.
We are at 66 1' 13" S, 177 .59' 48" E.
The air temperature is -7.4 C and the water temperature is -1.82 C.
It is a partly cloudy day and we are in multi-year ice (at the moment, it changes every few minutes to other types of ice or water).

Well we are still alternating doing a CTD or a XBT every degree (CTD) or half degree (XBT) of latitude. We go several hours in between. It is taking us forever to get to the study site, but that is the way it often goes. We are/were hoping to see more wildlife once we got to the ice. The wildlife often hangs out in the area near where the ice starts (we call it the ice edge). But we saw little yesterday, maybe today. I'll take pictures. Oh, a Minke whale was seen briefly yesterday.

Cheers, Robin

November 12: It is 21:25 on Nov 12 GMT or 10:25 our time (New Zealand) on the 13th.
We are at 63 59' 46 S, 178 14' 04" E.
The air temperature is -6.5 C and the water temperature is -1.82 C.
It is a cloudy day and we are in pancake ice. We hit the first ice around 3:00 this morning. Lots of icebergs around. Too cloudy last night for the Auroras.

Today we are doing CTD's and XBT's as we head south to our study site. At
every whole degree of latitude (-63, -64, -65, -66 etc) we do a CTD and in
between we do an XBT. We are also doing surface sampling. Same old stuff. Cheers, Robin

November 11: It is 21:54 on Nov 11 or 10:54 our time on the 12th
We are at 60 28' 37" S, 177 40' 37" E.
The air temperature is -2.0 C and the water temperature is -2.2 C.
It is partly cloudy outside and the winds have died down to 20 kt and the
waves are less than 3 m or 10 feet.

Yesterday, the seas were quite heavy and we had to cancel XBT's for a few hours because it was too dangerous. Things have calmed down now. And we are now in the Antarctic — south of 60. Today we are still steaming towards our study site. It is taking forever. We had to slow down due to the big waves and haven't made as much progress as we would have liked. We are continuing doing XBT's and surface sampling. Cheers, Robin

November 10: It is 21:25 Nov 10 GMT or 10:25 our time on the 11th.
We are at 56 59' 44" S, 176 04' 47" E.
The air temperature is 2.1 C and the water temperature is 5.1 C.
It is cloudy and the waves are 15-20 ft or 5-6 m.
Again we are rockin' and rollin' out here. Was bumpy all day yesterday. A storm is coming by and the waves are getting quite big. I got some good pictures of waves breaking over the side of the ship yesterday. And the washing machine view in the portholes is happening quite often. We continued XBT's and surface sampling. Going outside for the XBT was quite a bit more interesting and people got wet several times (by waves). We also had snow going sideways a few times. But the last two nights have been clear for a while and the Aurora Australis was visible. That was cool, but the ship was moving too much to take pictures. Hope we see it tonight. Note: Australis = southern Borealis = northern so Aurora Borealis = northern lights and Aurora Australis = southern lights.
Cheers, Robin

November 9: It is 21:16 on Nov 9 GMT or 10:16 our time on the 10th.
We are at 53 47' 42" S, 174 44' 59" E.
The air temperature is 5.8 C and the water temperature is 6.0 C.
It is a sunny day and the winds are 20 kt. It is a rockin' and rollin' day out here. The waves are 3-4 m or 10-15 ft and are coming at an angle towards the starboard (right if you are looking at the bow (pointy end) of the boat) side. We are in washing machine mode. That means when you look out the porthole on the 00 deck it looks like a side loading washing machine with water rolling around. When I was in bed this morning two waves hit my window on the 01 deck (1 floor up - the 00 deck is about five feet above the water line and the porthole is approximately five feet higher. Everything not secured is moving.

We did XBT's and surface sampling again yesterday and we will do them today too. They did see whales several times yesterday.

Cheers, Robin

November 7: It is 21:17 on Nov 7 GMT or 10:17 our time on the 8th.
We are at 46 23' 38" S, 172 6' 48" E.
The air temperature is 9.7 C and the water temperature is 9.2 C. (I decided that you guys can convert the temperatures on the 2nd half and that started last night at 8 when we left the dock. F = C*9/5+32 You can easily put the formula in Excel or do it on your calculators. It will be more exact than the approximate I have been giving you.) We are headed to the Ross Sea, expected transit time is about 7 days. Think of a road trip with your parents in an RV. That is sort of what this is like, but we don't stop to explore stuff on the way. We have started taking surface samples along the way. We will start doing XBT's when we get off the Campbell Plateau, which is expected to be sometime tomorrow. I will do some other work today.

November 7: It is now 6:35 on Nov 7 GMT or 19:35 (7:35 pm) our time on the 7th.
We are at 44 23' 25" S, 171 15' 36" E.
The air and water temperatures were 57 this morning. It is warmer now, but the system has not been rebooted and I don't know the exact temperatures. Our email crashed this morning, so I could not write earlier. We have been at the dock since 17:00 (5:00 pm) yesterday. Lots of the systems were turned off and others crashed. Things are working or will be soon. We are about to leave the dock, soon at 8:00. We enjoyed our day on land. I went for a run and went to the beach and went swimming. Also went shopping and had a couple meals in restaurants. Most everyone from the ship went out dancing last night. We had fun.

November 5: It is 21:44 on Nov 5 GMT or 10:44 our time on the 6th.
We are at 45 22' 49" S, 171 30' 7" E.
The air temperature is 11.1 C or ~52 F and the water temperature is 10.2 C or ~50 F. The water has warmed up a lot (the air too), but the water is still too cold for swimming. The air is getting much more comfortable outside and fewer clothes are needed. We are headed to port. Now we will arrive late this afternoon or early evening. We are looking forward to it and people are making plans what to do. Nothing to report, I am still doing work I brought from the office part of the time and goofing off reading, watching videos, playing games, the rest of the time. Cheers, Robin

November 2: It is 21:11 on Nov 2 GMT or 10:11 on the 3rd our time.
We are at 58 57'33" S, 159 51' 4" E.
The air temperature is 2.3 C or 36 F and the water temperature is 1.8 C or 35 F. No ice. Cloudy day. Still heading North for fuel, doing XBT's every hour. Nothing else happening here. Cheers, Robin

November 1: It is 21:32 on Nov 1 GMT or 10:32 our time on the 2nd.
We are at 62 15' 14" S, 151 50' 0" E and heading NE to Timaru, New Zealand.
The air temperature is -7.8 C or ~18 F and the water temperature is -1.44 C or ~29 F. It is cloudy outside. We are no longer in the ice, now we are bouncing around in the waves. It's election day there and I expect the place is a buzz. We are heading back to New Zealand for fuel, doing XBT's along the way. We stopped being in the ice last night around 9. That's about it from here. Cheers, Robin

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