Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Open Water!

The ice edge as of November 4, 2009.

The ice edge as of my birthday, November 26, 2009.
Click either picture for a better view. McMurdo is the red dot. The Dry Valleys are the brown areas to the left of the red dots.

I wanted to post a final picture of the ice edge. In this last one (pictured below), you can see a dramatic difference from the past two that I have posted (pictured above). If you click on the one below to enlarge it, you can even see a light outline of the channel that the ice breaker has made to town. Unless we have a major storm blowing out of the south to send the ice away to the north, I don't think the ice edge will make it to town this year. However, enough water has opened up around Hut Point to allow ample Adelie penguin and minke whale viewing. I haven't seen any minkes there yet, but I still hope to. The BBC has seen orcas in the channel.

The ice edge as of January 21, 2010.

Tent Island and an area that I drove past just three months ago.

The ice edge has moved close enough to town that areas where I was driving and skiing just three months ago are now open water. In my Cape Evans post from a few months ago, I included a picture of this same iceberg (pictured above). I believe it has run aground. Otherwise, it probably would have moved out to sea by now. To see such dramatic changes take place after so many months of looking at the same landscape is jarring. It shakes the senses again and reminds us just how amazing this place is at a time when we often need reminding because we are fatigued from a long season.

The ice edge as of January 21, 2010.

With open water, we also get the vessels. The Oden, icebreaker, arrived a couple weeks ago. The fuel vessel showed up yesterday. The cargo vessel should probably reach town in about a week, after a short stop in Lyttelton, NZ. This is the busiest part of the year for many departments as they unload all of our major supplies for next year. Those departments assisting in vessel offload have moved to 24 hour operations and shortened breaks. It also looks like, the South Pole Traverse should be rolling into town just as we get busy.

The South Pole Traverse is almost back to town.

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