18 January, 1998
Hello from the Ross Sea! Today has been absolutely beautiful aboard the Nathaniel B. Palmer. We passed thousands of icebergs that were absolutely beautiful! As I worked, I often stopped to look out the window and admire these amazing pieces of ice. I've taken lots of pictures, but I don't think any of them will show the true beauty of the 'bergs. One of the icebergs was at least 2 miles across! For things like that, the boat actually steers around them. For patches that include lots of smaller, looser chunks of ice, the ship just plows right through. You can feel a little bit of the shake on the ship, and you can definitely hear the ship crunching the ice . . . but that's what the ship is made for and it does a wonderful job.
I thought I would let you know a little bit about the other scientists that I am working with. The chief scientist is Dr. John Anderson. He is a professor at Rice University in Houston, Texas, and has been down to Antarctica 18 times (this is his 19th trip). He is a very experienced researcher, and most of the other scientists are students of his who have graduated from college and are either working on their Masters degree or their PhD.
Stephanie Shipp is his "right hand woman." This is her 6th trip to Antarctica, and she is the person that we all turn to if John is busy or unavailable. She is working on her Doctorate, and should be finished in a year or so. She is also very involved with the Teachers Experiencing Antarctica program which sent me down here. I am really fortunate to be included in the project with Dr. Anderson and Stephanie!
Tony Rodriguez, Michelle Fassell, and Julia Smith are all students of Dr. Anderson. In addition to working on shifts like everyone else, they also have their own research projects while we are down here. Some of the data that we are taking will be used by these students for their theses or dissertations at Rice University.
Ashley Lowe is working for Dr. Anderson. She helped him type and edit his last book, and she is going to start taking classes as a graduate student at Rice University next fall. She was a geology major in college, and wants to advance her studies with research in Antarctica.
Ian Howat is a Junior at Hamilton College in New York. He was selected by his professor to come on this ship with Dr. Anderson and do some research of his own. After leaving Antarctica, he will spend the rest of the semester taking classes at Hobart College in Tasmania. He will return to New York for the fall semester at Hamilton College.
Well, before I close out for the day, let's look at yesterday's questions . . . .
1) Why is the Ross Sea so calm much of the time? It is protected by land. The winds don't have as far to blow across the Ross Sea, so the waves don't tend to get as high. In addition, the sea ice forms a thin skin across much of the Ross Sea, which helps to keep it calm.
2) Why can it get rough? When there's a storm or high winds.
3) What kind of precautions are used for rough seas? All of the equipment is strapped down! There are straps over all of the computers, of course. In our bedrooms, the television is bolted to the wall. In the library, there is a strap that runs across the front of the books. The chairs in the lab do not have wheels, and the floor is textured to increase friction. We haven't had any rough seas since I've boarded the ship, but they are always prepared. Storms arrive quickly around here, and they always want to be ready.
4) Why do they have all of that equipment on ship (wood shop, machine shop, electrical shop, etc.)? We are very far away from any help. If something breaks, it is up to the crew to fix it. About every tool imaginable is available on this ship. There are people on board who can fix anything from computers to sediment coring equipment. I'm amazed at all of the talented people that it takes to run a ship like this!
Well, that's all for today! I'm having a wonderful time and can't wait to find out what new adventures happen tomorrow! Talk to you later!
Contact the TEA in the field at .
If you cannot connect through your browser, copy the TEA's e-mail address in the "To:" line of your favorite e-mail package.