13 November, 1998
I woke up at 8:00 am to a beautiful warm, sunny day (in the 30's and 40's F). Since I had experiments to begin, I stayed back in camp today while my team visited the Taylor, Commonwealth, and the Canada Glaciers to collect cryoconite samples (cryoconite are areas of sediment deposit on the glacier...you can see them very easily from the air...they look like holes in the glacier surface because the sediment warms the ice and melts into the ice). They took the chainsaw and collected large cubes of ice for later sampling. John was planning to do ammonia regeneration experiments with the ice (how bacteria change the nitrogen to nitrates), identifying the bacteria/algae, testing bacteria/algae activity, sorting the sediments, and doing some photosynthesis chemistry.
We had breakfast before they left. I made sandwiches for them to take, since they would be gone all day.
After they left, I decided to collect my meltwater for my experiments first. Then it could be melting as I did other things. I started the preway heater in the upper lab and placed the bottles of ice on the top shelf. As you know, heat rises, and I was hoping that the melting would occur faster this way. As long as there is ice in the container, the meltwater will stay pretty close to 0 degrees C.
I emptied the 2 containers of grey water in the Jamesway. This consists of pouring them into 55-gallon barrels outside. As soon as these are full, we roll them down the hill to await a trip back to McMurdo for processing.
At 11:00 am the LTER team left camp to head back to McMurdo. They've been sampling the various lakes in the Taylor Valley for about 3 weeks, so they need a break (and a shower).
At noon, part of the Stream Team arrived (Mike Gooseff and Arne Bomblies). Since the streams aren't running yet, they are checking the data logging equipment and making sure everything is working before the streams start running. They maintain 18 stream gauges in the Taylor Valley-- they measure flow rate and stream chemistry composition. The want to see what the water balance is in the Dry Valley system. How is the water recycled, where is all of the water (in the streams, in the ice, in the glacier, in the lake water), and how do the streams contribute to the lakes? In the last 100 years, the lakes' surfaces have risen quite a bit. Does this have anything to do with global warming?
My question was..."Why do the glaciers just stop at certain places? What prevents them from continuing on down the mountains?" It has to do with a lot of factors, mainly how much evaporation or sublimation (ice directly to vapor) is going on. Since the Dry Valleys are so windy and dry, sublimation occurs very rapidly and continuously. Therefore, the glacier does not seem to move very quickly down the mountain. The top portion of the glacier will move faster than the bottom (because the bottom is experiencing the friction of the ground), and in doing so, the glacier will "calve" or break off from the top (as soon as it gets too heavy on top). A little physics for you...
The Stream Team left camp to go check the stream gauges, and I decided to clean up the Jamesway a bit. I swept out the Jamesway (it's amazing how much dust is tracked in), made 2 chocolate silk pies, did dishes, and washed my hair (yes, I broke down when I saw the weird grease formations my hair was doing).
I started labeling the 90 bottles I would need for my experiment, and realized that I had no balance with which to weigh the sediments. I was going to run out of bottles, too, and needed to find more. I decided to hold off my experiment until I had everything organized. That always helps, doesn't it?
I made dinner again, since I was the only one in camp to start dinner. I made honey mustard chicken, mushroom rice, spinach, and of course, we had the chocolate silk pies for dessert. I caught up on my journal (my scratch pad really...until I can get back to McMurdo to type these in an e-mail) and checked my meltwater. The ice had just completely melted, so I placed the containers of meltwater in the 0 degrees incubator. I called Chris to ask for more bottles that had been rinsed in deionized water, a balance, and more deionized water. [I don't want any ions-- or charged parcticles-- to ruin the experiment]. I labeled more bottles, checked my e-mail in camp for the first time, and then went to bed. My experiment will have to wait one more day.
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