16 November, 2004
Light levels and support from town!
Location: Lake Hoare
Not too long ago, I had a ďlive chatĒ over the internet with my school in NH and anyone who was listening in during the broadcast. During this chat, we discussed how important the support teams are to the scientists here in Antarctica. It truly would be very difficult for most of this research to be done without the never ending support in McMurdo. There are mechanics to fix engines, computer specialists to tackle computer glitches, welders, doctors, chefs, builders, and pilots just to name a few. Itís not that the science could not get done without the support, itís just that it would be infinitely more difficult.
Yesterday, we had a dive compressor delivered from town so that we can refill our dive tanks. While we were refilling the tanks, we noticed a significant air leak from the machine. We were pumping almost as much air back out into the environment as we were putting into our tanks! We located the source of the leak and attempted to first stop the leak by tightening the bolt. Unfortunately, this decision caused the bolt to be sheered right off the machine. Without a working compressor, no diving could get done. We had enough air left in the tanks to last for three dives; depending on depth and longevity. The tanks we pull our air from for surface supply diving are huge cylinders, not regular sized dive tanks. We called the Mechanical Equipment Center, or MEC, back in McMurdo and asked for assistance.
We took digital pictures of the problem and emerald the photos to the MEC building. Within a few hours, they had a mechanic on a helicopter coming to help. Luckily for us, the problem was easily remedied and we got back to diving!
During my dive today, I took light level measurements of the water column below Lake Hoare. I took a light meter which was attached to a super long cable down under the ice with me. Once under the ice, I swam straight out from the dive hole taking measurements every 10 meters. In designated areas, I also descended to the bottom, taking light measurements every 7-10 feet. The lake, in the area where we were sampling, is only about 50 feet deep. I quite enjoyed being part of the actual data collection.
Ian then dove and collected sediment samples to analyze in the lab. Ian is interested in the photosynthetic levels of the cyanobacteria that live in these lakes. Photosynthetic organisms need light in order to photosynthesize. Ian and Kay then took the collected samples and the known light measurement values back to the lab.
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