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Tuesday, October 9, 2007: More Sea Ice and Preping SCINI
There's a lot to say about ice, and you'll be hearing of it from us as we continue our training and start spending the majority of time on, under, and around the stuff. Today Mindy and I took the training course Marcus and Nick took yesturday, and the two of them took their first check out dives under the ice. They're alive and exited, but you'll have to wait to hear all the details from them.

In the next few days we'll be deploying SCINI for the first time, and i'm feeling the same kind of suspensful anticipation Nick and Marcus had this morning at breakfast about how our baby will fare in this new harsh environment.


Can you find Mindy in this photo? When we get cold standing around outside it's great to take a quick jog to get the blood moving, and before you know it your warm verhicle and all your pals are just a spec on the horizon. It's literally impossible to hide while it's clear like today, but even a little snow and wind can render us blind.

Mount Erebus is not the world's biggest hot tub, though sometimes we wish it was... it's the southern most active volcano, and almost always has a little tuft of steam at the top. Geologists and the adventurous sometimes make the treacherous 3,794 meter (12,448 foot) helicopter flight to its peak, but it's slopes are some of the most dangerous in the McMurdo region, and we will only admire it from afar.

We got in a little work-study action at the end of our sea ice class and surveyed a route out to this year's "penguin ranch". This spot is part of an on going study of Emperor Penguin diving physiology by a multination group of scientists (visit their website!). Penguins from closer to the open water are rounded up and corraled around one or two lone dive holes so their dive times and behavior can be observed. We've been hearing about the incredible ability of these penguins to store oxygen in their muscles to pull off 20 minute deep dives with their heart rates slowed down to a beat every 10 seconds without chilling their core body temperatures. Perhaps one day we can reduce the brain damage and fatigue humans feel from extreme hypoxia by copying these hearty birds?

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This material is based on work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. ANT-0619622 ( Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.