Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Ocean Sampling Day – this time around, we were early!

Rothera is a British Antarctic Survey research station, located on Adelaide Island on the Antarctic Peninsula at 67° South (http://www.antarctica.ac.uk/living_and_working/research_stations/rothera).
This year we managed to get out on the 17th of June. As the weather forecast is very unreliable and another weather window was not in sight, we decided to take the opportunity and get the samples early. When we left base in our RIB it was still snowing and it took us quite a while to push through the pancake ice but we finally got to Site 1*. The fast ice edge was just where we wanted to sample which was good as it was slightly too windy and we would have drifted quite a lot. However, we found a little bay and were able to throw an anchor onto the ice to stop us from drifting. During the 2 ½ hours we were out there, the weather cleared up and it turned into a quite beautiful day. Despite the sun not rising currently, it got quite light and the wind calmed down.

(Here is the link to a little video we have put together: https://vimeo.com/99900811)

Like last year we filtered 2l for each of the 4 replicates through Sterivex filters. They were put into the -80°C freezer for preservation until the ship picks them up in March 2015.

For us in Antarctica, the 21st of June is a very special day being the winter solstice. It marks the day with the least daylight. At Rothera this means that we still get a couple of hours of daylight (without seeing the sun), but others spend their days in complete darkness. As Christmas is not quite as big as a deal down here as it is at home, midwinter is celebrated much more. At the beginning of winter we all pick names out of a hat (like
The whole team with the presents 
(Photo: Chris Walton)
secret santa) and had to make a present for the person we drew. Lots of amazing things were made like hammocks, clocks, cake stands, models of sledges, a real size sledge, a Banjo case and more. We got together in the morning at around 11am (just when it started getting light) for breakfast. We met up again at 2pm all dressed up nicely, ate canapés and exchanged presents. At 4pm we started the epic journey of an 8-course dinner. We had an interval at 7.30 just before the main course for our mid-winter broadcast. This is the only time of the year the BBC World Services transmits in a way that we can pick it up. They put together a 30min show for all British bases with the songs of our choices, maybe a celebrity we asked for and most importantly messages from our loved ones at home – quite special and emotional.

Sabrina Heiser, Rothera Marine Assistant

Crew: Mairi Fenton (Marine Assistant for the Dutch collaboration), Petra Mildeova (Meteorologist)

More about the Ocean Sampling Day: http://oceansamplingday.blogspot.co.uk/

*At Rothera we have 3 Sites we commonly visit for CTDs. Site 1 is 500m deep and allows us a full CTD profile. Site 2 is closer to base and only 200m deep but less likely to be covered by ice in the winter. Site 3 is just off the wharf and only about 100m deep. This side is only visited if the ice is too thick to get any further.

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