LARISSA - LARsen Ice Shelf System, Antarctica, a NSF-funded project.

LARISSA - LARsen Ice Shelf System, Antarctica, a NSF-funded project.
We are conducting an integrated, multi-disciplinary field program to address the rapid and fundamental changes occurring in the Antarctic Peninsula region as a consequence of the abrupt collapse of the Larsen B Ice Shelf in the fall of 2002. A profound transformation in ecosystem structure and function is occurring in coastal waters of the western Weddell Sea. This transformation appears to be yielding a redistribution of energy flow between chemoautotrophic and photosynthetic production, and to be causing the rapid demise of the extraordinary seep ecosystem discovered beneath the ice shelf, providing an ideal opportunity to test fundamental paradigms in ecosystem evolution.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Beginning to cross the Drake passage

5 Jan 2010 – Our passage past Tierra del Fuego was smooth with following
seas, and we just now have entered the Drake Passage. Of course, the wind immediately switched to our beam (coming from the side of the ship) so we are rocking much more. Because working on the deck of a ship can be dangerous, especially in Antarctica, we have spent the day in numerous safety briefings. These included instruction in rapid donning of a survival suit to keep us alive in frigid Antarctic waters for 12 hours if the ship sinks. These look and feel like Gumbie suits and make you break into a heavy sweat within 30 seconds (unless of course you are immersed in icy water). We also learned how to work on deck, roping ourselves to the ship when it gets rough, and warning our companions if we see a big wave coming. This expedition will also include helicopter operations to fly glaciologists ashore to sample ice and measure to flow of glaciers into the ocean; this too required a long safety briefing (in addition to the 2-day safety course we had in June!). Now it is 10 pm (but still light because we are so far south) -- time to relax a bit, reading a book, watching a movie video, or maybe even writing a blog!

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