Greetings from F6 camp!
As the Stream Team draws closer to the end of the season, our team schedule is getting fuller and fuller. The Stream Team only expects to spend another 2.5 weeks in the Dry Valleys before heading back to McMurdo Station and re-deploying back to Christchurch, NZ.
Before we depart the Valleys there is a long list of objectives to accomplish. These include repairing gage control structures, building new control structures, closing all the stream gages for the season, sampling algal mats, surveying lake levels, retrieving data loggers peppered throughout the Valleys, and packing up the glorious F6 camp. It’s hard to believe that the end of the season is so close. Amazing how fast time passes, here…
January is also when many of the MCM-LTER lead scientists show up. In other words, all of the talented senior scientists who generate the ideas worth studying and compete (successfully) for money to fund those ideas (…and us graduate students), show up to spend time in the Dry Valleys. Today, we were happy to have Dr. Diane McKnight, Dr. Jeb Barrett, Dr. Ross Virginia, and Dr. Diana Wall hang out with us. Dr. Diane McKnight is the leader of the Stream Team and also the lead investigator of the MCM-LTER. Dr. Barrett, Dr. Wall, and Dr. Virginia are all leaders of the soil-science portion of the LTER. Search these names on Google Scholar and learn something new!
Today Dr. Jeb Barrett took a team of us out to the P3 experimental plot to do some explaining and planning. P3 is a long-term soil-wetting experiment, where specific plots of soil are carefully wetted to explore the impact of a wetter environment on soil microbial communities and solute concentrations. Our lab group at Penn State will be responsible for understanding the hydrologic alterations to these sites. We have deployed a suite of sensors into the soil, which measure temperature and soil moisture potential. Turns out, water flow and solute transport through unsaturated porous media is complicated stuff. Should be fun!
It’s a bit sad to see the end of my stay in the Dry Valleys, but then again I really need to do some laundry.
The Stream Team has had a busy, fun-filled week. The hi-light so far was Friday’s trip to Miers Valley. We collected water samples and measured discharge on Adams Glacier Stream, Miers Glacer Stream, and Miers Outlet Stream. I also deployed several data loggers to measure specific conductance, temperature, and water height in Miers Outlet Stream, and Miers Glacer Stream.
While we were working at the Adams Glacier Stream gage, we noticed an abrupt change in discharge. Over a period of several minutes, the amount of water flowing through the stream increased threefold. In temperate, non-glaciated, watersheds, large changes in discharge are usually associated with rain events. As more water is put into the system (rain on watershed), more water comes out of the system (streamflow), right? Well, in glacially dominated catchments, large changes in discharge occur on a daily basis without any rainfall at all! As the sun is shining directly on the face of a glacier – a maximum amount of runoff (melt water) is being generated. When the sun is not directly shining on the face of a glacier – a lesser amount of runoff is being generated. This daily variation in solar intensity on glaciers results in daily flood events, which can clearly be seen on streamflow hydrographs. A hydrograph is a record of stream discharge over a period of time. check out the hydrograph at Green Creek to see what I’m talking about… http://www.mcmlter.org/queries/hydro_graph.jsp?begDate=10/01/2009&endDate=04/01/2010&hydroStation=GREEN
Today, the Stream Team is traveling to the Wright Valley to study the Onyx River – a personal favorite. Unfortunately, we are leaving F6 just before a group of congressmen arrive on a tour of the Dry Valleys. Hope they like what they see…
If you don’t care for my verbal vomit above, maybe you’ll enjoy these photos…
A penguin WAY far away from home.
Miers Valley. The Royal Society Mountains in the background.
Adams Glacier runoff
lots going on here. Somewhere in Dry Valleys, Antarctica.
white kiwi a-star helo in the Wright Valley.
Upper Canada Glacier crevasses
Ginger bread house. Notice the stream in the side yard.
Watching grown aspiring scientists decorate Christmas cookies is quite funny.
Oh yeah, I’m here to study streams…
Enjoy a photographic journey of the last few weeks of my life.
Happy New Years from the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica!
Last night I quietly rang in the New Year with a small group of friends, sitting along the western face of the Canada glacier. As the clock hit midnight there were no fireworks, no loud music, no screaming crowds, just the steady sound of water tricking off the glacier. I couldn’t think of a better way to look back and be grateful what 2012 brought me, and to look forward to the good times of 2013.
We have officially hit summer here in the Dry Valleys. On clear sunny days, the weather does not drop below freezing and can even get as high as 45 – 50 F! It is pretty unbelievable that I am experiencing warmer weather than my friends and family back home in the north eastern continental United States. I assure you that this is not exactly Florida, but the warm weather is very welcome following a very cold November.
Along with the warm sunny weather comes stream flow! Nearly all of the streams in the Dry Valleys have been faithfully and predictably flowing, which makes for looong, but stimulating work days. I’m sorry for not posting as often as I’d like, here on my blog. Unfortunately, this writing is not very high on the priority list, behind field work, data analysis, and more academic writing. I hope you can understand.
I hope everyone out there was able to enjoy a safe and happy holiday season, close to friends and family. It’s pretty rough being so far away from home during the holiday season, but I assure you I had a nice enough time here in the Dry Valleys.
Helo inbound over Rae’s Ridge. Lake Hoare Camp, Antarctica