25 October, 1995
Wednesday, October 25, 1995
Good Morning everyone. As you can see, more days are going by between mail. Why? I can't answer that except that the mail sent now just gets to be a little longer. It is an absolutely gorgeous day on this Wednesday - the sun broke the horizon on the Gerlache Strait this morning at a little before 0500. There is absolutely no wind, with a few high thin clouds on the horizon and the temperature is a little lower than -4.000 degrees centigrade.
And now for a word from our skycopter traffic watcher..there is no traffic on the Gerlache freeway this morning it is choked with pack ice and a few larger bergs, but if you stay to the east of the Strait along the peninsula side, you shouldn't have any problem this morning. We will try to catch you up on more traffic later.
Oh my, it's beginning to sound like I'm losing it, doesn't it? We are starting our third week on the project and I will try to give you a little update. The captain and first mate of the Polar Duke have told me that this weather is a little unusual for this area although they have had good weather here before for long periods of time. The wind kicked up yesterday, so the wind chill factor was about -18.000 to -20.000 degrees below zero on the deck all day. Blue skies and cold. I have to tell you that I loved it..I was on deck most of the day into the evening and watching the sun go down with the temp. at -4.5000 degrees. There are no clouds in the sky and the wind blowing 30 knots with the chill factor like I said at -20.000 and I was all bundled up and standing on the stern with these people peering out the window at me wondering what I am doing. It was great. Again another time alone for reflection on ones life and the state of the world along with evaluating priorities. I believe that of course it is all relative, but everyone should take the opportunity to stand back in an environment that tests the physical and emotional aspects of ones life and ask what and why.
I saw some humpbacks yesterday in the morning off the stern of the Duke and that was exciting. We hope to see some more as they should be coming into this area soon. They are easy to see as they create a cloud of mist and vapor in the air that the wind blows away and if you have been staring out on the water for a while, you will notice their breath vapor quite easily.
I postponed this message this morning while doing a CTD cast ( I am now officially involved with this procedure taking physical oceanographic readings and collecting data) and we dropped it to 500 meters and this was my first cast by myself and I have to say that it went well with no problems and good data returned. I will probably do the morning casts and another person will do the afternoon ones. We will then plot the data on a colored plotter for evaluation by the project manager later. I am getting copies of the cast plots and then will make duplicate copies on colored xerox machines of use in classes. These will be or can be useful in graphing and graph analysis, data analysis dealing with physical oceanography, interpreting differences and similarities between salinity, temperature and depth, oxygen saturation and depth of saltwater and a variety of other things that I am sure teachers can invent. This is one way to truly integrate Antarctic research into the class room.
It is now 0800 hours and the clouds are beginning to come back in. The temperature has risen to -3.000 degrees. We may be going to Deception Island later this week which is located about 90 miles to the north and west of here and to the south of King George Island. There is not a lot of snow and ice there because it is volcanic and there are hot springs and the remains of an old whaling station that used to be there. We are hoping for nice weather and probably the number one item that determines whether we go or not is the presence of ice.
We are having problems getting ice images from the University of Wisconsin here on the Polar Duke and it limits us where we can go. Travel time is research time. You would think that good images would be available but when you work in a harsh environment such as this, you cannot expect everything right on time. It also depends upon satellite transmission and reception because of where we are located. Clouds hamper the image producing ability of satellites to give or get good photographs and the ice edge images are infrared because the reflective qualities of ice produce better images.
What is happening on this trip basically is that the team of scientists on board ( and quite frankly after some discussions on board for the last three weeks, I consider myself a scientist who instead of doing research is a scientist involved in education teaching about science and what scientists and researchers do with their data) is that the Wade Jeffrey team is studying the effects of ultra violet radiation or light on bacterioplankton. Remember that plankton are small plants and animals that live in the ocean and do not swim, in fact, the term plankton in Latin, means wanderer. Bacterioplankton are really small plankton, too small to see with the naked eye. These scientists are looking at damage caused by the radiation and what the radiation damages. They are also trying to see if they can notice the bacterioplankton repairing the damage caused by the ultra violet radiation. They are studying th DNA of the bacterioplankton and we are collecting samples, freezing them, and then they will be sent back to the university for study. We are also now making dosimeters out of cow (bovine) thymus DNA because it is cheap and abundant. This is a very laboratory oriented project which has been tested in the Gulf of Mexico for quite awhile and now the team is trying the same methods in Antarctica. It will take awhile back in the lab to interpret the data, meanwhile we have three people that all they do all day long is filter bacteria out of water. Research does have its tedious side, but these people are really gung ho and do their job very well. I think that is an area that needs to be addressed in our society and not just among young people either. If you choose to do a job, then be dedicated to that parcticular job, seek loyalty to yourself and the job with a feeling of pride. Taking responsibility along these lines I believe, has to boost a feeling of self pride and self esteem which all leads to a job well done. Perhaps they all go together.
SSSooooo, now for another news item..I have recently sent a letter to a scientist at McMurdo Sound indicating my desire to plan and implement and asking his help in the organization of a science curriculum based on global earth systems and global change which would integrate Antarctic materials into the class room. I believe that it is quite relevant because of the nature of the Antarctic environment, the impact of Antarctic research on global systems and societies, the ecological balance that must be maintained in this area, the abilities of countries to put aside differences and work together in peace for the idea of cooperative Antarctic research and the need of research organizations to get involved in public education. It is necessary for all to see the how, why, where and what of Antarctic research and the best place to do that is in public education. It would allow for the production of a better informed general public that can use process in making informed decisions and better prepared freshman class at colleges and universities around the country. It definitely would be a laboratory class with an emphasis on relevant science content but through the investigation of conceptual themes and utilizing the latest telecommunications for data retrieval and analysis as well as the use of geographical information systems and a great big emphasis on real time data acquisition, analysis and problem solving situations that will provide students graduating with decision making skills that can be utilized at all levels of a 21st century society. SSSoooooooooo, that's it for the editorial section of todays' Antarctic news from the Polar Duke.
I have spent a lot of time on the bridge of the ship because it has a great view, it is quieter (have I explained how a ship at sea is never quiet. You have a real hard time trying to find a place where there isn't any noise) and it is fun to talk to people where, quite frankly, is quite beautiful out and its warm. I have met a seaman working the ship named Eduardo and he is a travel agent in Punta Arenas when he is not on thePolar Duke. We have had interesting discussions about Chile, Pinochet, Argentina, America and South America. His basic belief is that Chile is the most stable economic country in South America, Pinochet will not come to power again because he is an old man and a left winger and the right wingers have decide that they like peace more than war and terror and that most Americans do not have any idea about South America and what is going on and that we think of South America as military dictatorships and drugs. Matter of fact, he may be right, but that may be a testimonial to my ignorance. He is a fine man and a wonderful person to talk with. He is the morning crane operator so every morning we have the opportunity to say hello and good morning to each other . It is amazing how in situations which involve long times from home, especially for me, that you come to depend upon certain things like a good morning to a certain person who is going to be out in the cold with you
And now with a brief look at the weather again..it is 0830, the wind is about 10 MPH with overcast and sun breaks and the temperature is a toasty -.000 degrees today. You may want to use a sunscreen with a number 45 protection and do not leave those sunglasses at home. In closing, we will notice that our traffic sitation has improved and we are cruising in an area with little ice and a few floaters around, so buckle up and if you water ski, wear a survival suit, and remember, don't fall in - so from 64.13 degrees south latitude and 61.47 west longitude, this is your southern ocean reporter signing off with this quick thought for the day as overheard from a humpback whale cruising by after listening to me read some of your email.."you never know what you are going to hear until you hear it".
Peace once again
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