24 November, 2000
Today I was busy running tests on chlorophyll samples. If you have been following my journal you know that we were collecting chlorophyll samples on the Gould. While we were collecting samples so was Kirk at Palmer Station. So we have a lot of samples to check. It takes several hours to process thirty samples.
The process is rather simple. The first part is collection. The collection process on the Gould was to take in a known amount of seawater and pass it through a filtration system. The filter was then placed in a small bottle and frozen at -70 degrees Celsius for step two. The process is the same on station. Water is collected at 4 different sites in the bay. These water samples are returned to station where they are filtered, placed in bottles and frozen. The freezing process halts the chlorophyll from breaking down.
The second step is to take the samples from the freezer and add a quantity of diluted acetone. From this point the samples are brought up to room temperature slowly over a 24-hour period. They are then placed in a Fluorometer. The Fluorometer shoots a beam of light at a known wavelength at the sample. This light excites the chlorophyll, which emits light at a different wavelength. The Fluorometer calculates and displays this energy as a voltage. These voltages are associated with different concentrations of chlorophyll.
Chlorophyll is very important to life in the Antarctic. The ocean contains phytoplankton, a microscopic plant, and as one person described it as a floating sea of grass. Chlorophyll is a major component of this sea grass. Phytoplankton, by some estimates, provides us with close to 40% of our breathable oxygen and plays a major role in the food chain. So testing for chlorophyll concentrations is very important.
On a sad note the Gentoo penguin that laid her egg next to Palmer Station yesterday lost it today. Her egg was on a small hill and rolled down next to the snow. Later, either a Skua or a Sheathbill broke the egg open and ate the contents. It just reminded me that even the penguin is part of the food chain and that Antarctica is a harsh place. This evening when I went to check on the penguin she had four friends with her and she can lay more eggs. Life goes on.
We had a great Thanksgiving meal, and afterwards I volunteered for kitchen duty, GASH. Last year at Thanksgiving I never thought I would be enjoying a turkey dinner in Antarctica. It makes me wonder where I might be eating next year's Thanksgiving meal Š.
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