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Friday, November 30, 2007: SCIENCE!
One of the best parts about working in the Crary lab is meeting all the other grantees and seeing their projects unfold, and today i've got a sampling of groups i've met over the past two months around station. By next year, the NSF should have updates it's US Antarctic Program website with a list of active science groups, but for now i'm all you've got...


A nudibranch collected by a diver from Amy's group

Next door to us in the aquarium area is Amy Moran's marine ecology group, which this year is studying sea slugs. They are one of the rare other diving groups and we share holes and huts with them pretty regularly; check out their updates here.

Sea spider tank

A few of Amy's students are working on a sea spider maneuverability experiment to measure how fast the oversized cold water variants can "right" themselves after being flipped on their backs (one of the factors which might normally limit the maximum size the spideys can grow to). It's nerve racking watching the crawlers stretch and shimy right on the edge of balance over and over trying to get right side up again, but it's amazing to see them pull it off.

We also end up working a lot with the fish guys: Art DeVries and his students John, Eric, and Kevin. The fish guys put in lots of hours squatting around in huts with Scooby Doo fish poles pulling up bernachii for the aquarium and mawsoni for sampling. They are mostly interested in the special proteins the fish keep in their blood to prevent ice crystals from growing into deadly shards in the sub-freezing water. They have to maintain a careful balance of salinity, lipids, anti-freeze proteins, and fluid pressure to stay alive.

The ANDRILL site from our helo flight returning from New Harbor

ANDRILL is one of the largest projects operating out of McMurdo this year, and includes a number of collaborators from Germany, New Zealand, Italy, and the UK, which gives Phase Two a more sophisticated international air. Though their coffee unfortunately isn't any better, thy did pass their depth target of 1000 meters about a week ago and are wrapping up their geographical coring and starting to pack up this week. ANDRILL is a rock coring project based on the sea ice; first they drill a few meters though the ice, then down hundreds of meters to the sea floor, then start drilling cores through the rock. It's a large operation to do seismic scouting for future drill sites, process and split cores, and maintain a safe large sea ice camp.

The long duration balloon (LDB) project is one of my favorites down here because they do PHYSICS and have a balloon that goes up 35 kilometers, where it expands to 130 meters across. This year's payload includes CREAM (a muon energy detector), BESS (a giant 0.8 tesla magnite, like an MRI machine, used to detect anti-proton interactions), and ATIC (a project to measure the extreme high energy spectrum of low atomic number elements). We're really hoping to see a balloon launch in the next few weeks before we leave, it all depends on the weather...

There are two seal groups that we met way back at snow craft training; the smithsonian group with Crystal, Wendy, Warren, Lisa, Regina, and Roberto, and Marcus Horning's group with Sascha, Jen, Adam, and Derick. They've all been living out at field camps, tagging and weighing the giant Weddell seals that we run into from time to time at our dive huts. Birthing season ended a few weeks ago and we're just getting into mating season now, so they've been quite busy.

Weddells are pretty amazing; they can chew through sea ice to create new breathing holes, hold their breath and swim for more than 40 minutes, and somehow survive the extreme winters in this area. After birth the mothers pass on hundreds of pounds of body weight as extremely think and fatty milk to their pups, not eating themselves the whole time; we have some footage of seals underwater that i'll try to back post here if it's more feasible to upload.

In other news, it's hot here! I'm sweaty pretty regularly just walking around town in my bunnies (the only waterproof boots I have) and a long sleeve shirt. Pretty soon it'll be colder back home in Boston that it is here; i'm looking forward to more snowy winter and a second spring in a few months!



Hi Bryan, I appreciate your LINKS!

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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.