Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Looking at Palmer Station

We arrived at Palmer Station on a spectacular day last week, Thursday, November 16th, shortly before Noon. There was not a cloud in the sky. The Palmer staff was waiting for us at shore. we heard later that they unloaded the Gould at a record pace.
Palmer station is a community of 45 people. they are mostly support staff for the National Science Foundation projects that occur here. As a National Science grantee, I have found everyone eager and ready to provide any item or service that could possibly make our time more productive. Great meals are provided by the kitchen staff. The lab supervisors have made space available, including our refrigerator container where we are preserving the ice for molding.Palmer take safety extremely seriously. Here is the OSAR (Ocean Search and Rescue) team on a drill. All over the station there are suits, so these people can jump into a "float"=coat," required for boating in frigid waters, and be ready to go off on a rescue. In a climate where the sea water is below the freezing temperature of fresh water, speed is of the utmost importance.
I have wanted to give Bill Sistek an idea of how Palmer has evolved. He was a lab assistant here twenty-five years ago. I sure that the facility has become much more complex and involved since his tenure. In a future post I'll talk about some of the ongoing experiments here, as well as the perceived changes in the glacier and surrounding land forms. Suffice to say that the glacier has retreated more than 130 meters (500 feet) since his time. Even some of the people who have been coming here for more than five years, say that they notice big changes, including new passages opened in the harbor and new islands created.
The back side of "Bio," looking up towards "GWR." The green tanks are for biology, the black one is a "Hydro-therapy" tank. I'm sure to get a picture of some of us in it!

This is a picture looking up the point towards the glacier on the Arthur harbor side of the station. the ice cleared out the next day and has been present, but sparse. The glacier is continuously calving. We hear the loud crashes, see the waves and new pieces of ice appear.

The other side of the Palmer Station point at where the glacier starts.

My first attempt at chasing pieces of ice.

At some point I'll do a photo study of the glacier. It looks different in all different lights, so a collection would be interesting. When we arrived there were tall spires of the left side of the "fluffy" part. During our orientation, it was back lit to emphasize the blue transparency. I wish I had stopped and shot it, but other pictures will have to do. The whole thing is kind of unreal; something you might make out of whipped cream and a drop of food color. The glacier is one hell of a pile of snow!
The view on Friday looking back towards the glacier across Arthur harbor. Notice the ice in the water has been blown away.

Palmer is about boating. Art and I got our Boating 1 and 2 completed and took a boat out yesterday to capture some ice chunks. Driving the Zodiac through the brash ice is like mixing margaritas!


Blogger The Prose~Cuter said...

This is without a doubt the most fascinating blog I've ever read! Thank you so much for sharing your experience, and good luck!!

11/22/06, 2:02 PM  
Blogger Rand Launer said...

Beautiful every day.
I'm putting on my
mittens tho'.

11/22/06, 5:31 PM  
Blogger mountain dew said...

The pics were amazing! A view like that is worth putting on layers of clothing & shivering a little! Awesome!

12/5/06, 1:17 PM  
Blogger Stan said...

I still love to check out whats going on at Palmer. I W/O as the Doc in 85. That year three of us swam from the rock across to the dock. Not a smart thing to do but I do have it on video. I can truly say that 12 months was the highlight of my Naval carreer.

11/11/07, 1:42 PM  
Blogger Stan said...

is there anyone that know about a live email for palmer or any other station in the Antarctica.
Doc Dame

12/18/07, 10:09 PM  

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