Thursday, January 11, 2018

Holes

"There is no lake at Camp Green Lake. There was once a very large lake here, the largest lake in Texas. That was over a hundred years ago. Now it is just a flat, dry wasteland...This isn't a Girl Scout camp."
- Louis Sachar in Holes


Fishing in our hole. You'll notice the fishing rods are pretty
small. We don't need to be casting long distances, so we're
actually using children's fishing rods, and they come in all sorts
of cool patterns like Barbie and Spiderman. 
My leather-gloved hand slid into the space between the handle and the box. I straightened my back and remembered to lift with my legs. In front of me, Mark was doing the same. I had insisted I could carry the box with him, but now I was kind of regretting it. That thing was heavy.

Like a family of red-coated gypsies, we caravaned down the snowy footpath onto the sea ice, carrying boxes and dragging sleds and holding oversized drill bits in our hands. It was just a 10-minute walk out to the first of the holes, but the whipping, icy wind made it feel longer. By the time we reached the site, I was more than glad to lay down my end of the big gray box.

We spent most of the day today out on the sea ice in McMurdo Sound, at a site just off the station's jetty. It was our chance to get familiar with all our various sampling gear now that we had finished the mandatory safety training. The science support staff at McMurdo had drilled a large hole in the ice for us, about a meter across, and over the next few weeks, we'll be lowering everything from fishing line to cameras into it. One of my fellow trainees has caught three fish so far, and we also retrieved a ctenophore (comb jelly) out of the hole with a net. It was very exciting to have samples!

Another sampling tool we used today is an ice corer - the heavy thing in the big gray box. Ice corers also drills holes in the ice, but their purpose is not just to make holes - they retain the ice core within. It's a bit tricky to keep the core intact when you retrieve it, especially in the current warm, slushy conditions. You have to carefully take the top off the coring tube and slide your meter-long ice core out onto the snow without letting it break. I got one perfect core today, and I was very proud of myself! In the photo, you can see the snow on the top of the ice layer and the clear, columnar ice crystals below it. This core only represents the top meter of the ice sheet (the ice today was about 2 meters thick), and a core taken from the bottom meter would look much different. Ice cores can be melted to assess the composition of microbes and algae that live in them, and they can tell us a lot about life in frozen ocean environments!

1 comment:

  1. I love the comparison of Camp Green Lake to Antarctica! These holes are way cooler though :)

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