12 November, 1998
I slept in this morning until 8:30 am. Wow, that felt good! I made muffins to complement anyone's breakfast plans. [We usually make our own breakfasts-- cold cereals, hot cereals, dried fruit, toast, etc.] Today I was planning on pulling up my sediment trap, so I walked out to my site on the lake and chipped away at ice that had reformed in my drilled ice hole. I chipped down about 2 feet and then realized that maybe it would be easier to melt it out. I had heard that sometimes they use a melting device to do just that. Unfortunately, it was being used by Ed to melt another hole down into the ice. He is planning on setting sensors into the ice at certain depths and take readings on them throughout the year, so he needs to melt about 3 meters down. He'll also take pictures of the bubble formations and sediment layers in the ice. I'll just have to wait a couple of days. There really is no hurry...
I decided to work on measuring the exact GPS (Global Positioning System) location of my sediment sampling sites from November 6 and 7. This would help my team relocate those points later if they needed to. GPS works by using satellite information. The various satellites can tell exactly where you are at any one time, and this parcticular device (a Garmin) gathers the satellite information and gives you your coordinates. It is accurate within about 15 meters (which I think is pretty incredible!). We had checked out a Garmin device from McMurdo which I needed to learn how to use. After learning the basics from Ed, I set out to record my exact sampling locations.
Unfortunately, I realized that the device was not working properly. After acquiring my position, it kept fluctuating my coordinates (which should not happen). I am where I am! I wasn't moving...I went back to camp to talk to Ed. We decided that we needed to initialize it to recognize the differential system. What that means is that the military have ways of scrambling your coordinates. This system would allow you to estimate your real position in spite of the scrambling. That's about all I understand!
Since I was stuck for a while, I helped the LTER (Long Term Ecological Research Team) use the PNF (Profiling Natural Fluorometer) to measure the light incidence in the water column and to measure the fluorescence of the phytoplankton in the water column. There are basically 2 parts to the PNF system-- a black disk with a small white ball on top that stays on the surface of the ice and another long black cylinder with measuring devices strapped onto its sides that goes down into the water column. As they lower the cylinder into the water, a computer records light incidence (how much light is reaching the top of the cylinder) compared to the white ball on the black disk on the surface. The bottom of the cylinder measures the red coming up from the phytoplankton (this is fluorescence). If you remember from your photosynthesis studies, phytoplankton basically absorbs every light but green and some yellow light. There is not much red light to absorb at the depths we're talking about here in the Dry Valley lakes, so the phytoplankton absorb mostly blue light, and since they have to give off energy, they do so by giving off red photons (energy). The amount of energy given off (the fluorescence) tells us about the phytoplankton--whether it exists in the lake and how active it is. Cool, huh?
I made dinner tonight (scallops in pesto sauce on spinach spaghetti, fruit salad, corn), and Nina made up a vegetable dish with the fresh eggplant and carrots that came in as "freshies." It was the LTER team's last night with us, so John presented them with awards that he had created on the computer. John was in rare form tonight, so everyone was up late.
Nina and Ed decided to take showers in the midst of all of this. Showers in camp are quite the production. You have to sweep the floor of all the dust (because if you don't, the water that leaks from your "shower" will create a mudslide). Then there is a shower curtain that is squarish in shape. The top ring is blown up to create a tube that will hold the shower's shape. The curtain is attached to the ceiling of the Jamesway and hangs down to your shins. Your feet go into two washbins at the bottom, and the solar water shower container is hung from above the curtain. No, you don't set this water out all day to heat. You heat water on the stove and then mix it with the cooler drinking water (that comes from the ice on the lake). So, in the midst of all the commotion, you can take a relatively private shower, other than hearing everyone's comments on the other side of the curtain.:) Needless to say, I never felt the need to shower in camp. I just collected all the dirt and grime that I could! It's not too bad, as long as it stays cold...when it starts to warm up (as it's starting to do), then you begin to smell a little "off."
Before going to bed, Chris went over the nutrient leaching experiments with me. He is leaving for McMurdo tomorrow and won't be around to help me if I have any questions. I had sediment samples that I had collected from my transect sites on November 6 and 7, and we were going to test how many of the sediment components actually leach (or end up) in the meltwater. I would basically be sieving the sediments again to gather the 2 cm, 300 um, 63 um, and smaller increments...adding meltwater from Lake Bonney to the bottles, incubating them at 0 degrees C, and extracting and filtering the water off of the sediments at various times (0 hours, 12 hours, 24 hours, 36 hours, and 48 hours). This would give us an idea of the rate of leaching (if there is any). As you can see, I wanted to time it right so I wouldn't be getting up in the middle of the night. I'll probably begin my experiments at 8:00 pm tomorrow night, since I need to collect ice from the lake tomorrow and allow time for it to melt into meltwater.
Bed time was later tonight...midnight. It's amazing how time flies when it's light outside. I really lose track of time, and my body doesn't seem to "shut down" as quickly.
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