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, March 21, 2012

Tuesday Mar 13th We are in the Drake Passage now, and the weather and the seas are nothing like we expected! It’s sunny outside, temperature 6°C/43°F (wind chill -2.7°C/27°F), with very calm seas and light wind. In fact, some are calling it “Lake Drake!” There is a large high-pressure system covering our entire area, bringing clear skies, 10-knot winds, and only 3-4 foot seas! This kind of weather in the Drake is pretty rare and doesn’t normally last for very long so we are grateful to Neptune to treat us this way! The winds are so weak that there are almost no albatrosses about; They like to glide on the lift provided by strong winds passing over the large Southern Ocean waves in strong winds.

To our surprise, we spotted a lone sailboat coming from the direction of Antarctica. That is the only boat we have encountered so far and could very well be the only one we see during our entire cruise; it would be interesting to know where she is coming from and what stories her crew has to tell.

A lone sailing boat in the Drake Passage

Our Captain Sebastian gives our ETA in the vicinity of the Antarctic continent as tomorrow night and with the first science operation on Thursday morning at 5 am! Everybody on the ship is getting pretty excited!

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