Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Home Stretch

Well, I officially have become terrible at keeping this thing up.  I will save the excuses and try to catch up!

Things have been crazy busy here at F6.  Stream team is busy with our usual routine of sampling and gauging all of the Fryxell Basin, Bonney Basin, and Hoare Basin streams in a week.  We have had a bunch of visitors at F6 which has been a bunch of fun, but things can get crowded at times.  We had some folks (worm herders as they are affectionately known) last weekend that are studying soil microbes (nematodes).  And this week we had some geologists, and some scientists studying aerosolized (airborne) microbes.  As someone put it, walking around F6 is like playing that puzzle game where you only have one open space, and you slide the little blocks around to get them to fit.  My solution has been to wake up at 5 AM so I can have the hut to myself with excellent internet access.

We have also been having some weird weather.  It has generally been warm and the stream flows have picked up to maybe three quarters of where they were around Thanksgiving.  There has been a lot in the way of fog and clouds which has limited the helicopter flights.  This has given us some necessary exercise to work off the hundreds of cookies consumed at Lake Hoare.  Last weekend in Renee's cookie lab a peanut butter, chocolate chip, bacon cookie was created.  These are the ultimate field snack filled with calories, protein, and goodness.

This week we have been busy closing all of the gauge boxes for the season.  This means we grab the data storage module from the gauge box that has been collecting data all summer, and swap it with a a blank one to record the rest of the fall and into the winter.  Then we survey the elevations of our instruments and control structures to make sure things haven't moved since the beginning of the season (things do move because of the constant freeze thaw cycle of the ground).  Finally we put a ratchet strap around the gauge box to secure the doors during the winter storms and we wish them luck!

A couple weekends ago we got a chance on Sunday to head out and hike the Matterhorn which was a fantastic hike with a killer view.

View from the top of the Matterhorn looking towards the McMurdo Sound.  That is Lake Fryxell at the end of the valley.
Last week we sampled and gauged the streams in Miers Valley.  On the return flight we stopped to get stream samples and do algal sampling on the Garwood River.  The Garwood Valley never fails to deliver.  Might be my new favorite river.

View looking up the Garwood River towards the Royal Society Range.

Last weekend we got out on Sunday to do the Classic Nussbaum Riegel hike.  It is a fairly mellow day filled with amazing hiking.  Definitely will be included in my book of top hikes to do in the Taylor Valley.

View looking up the valley towards the Taylor Glacier.
Looking up the valley under a ventifact.  My dad liked the photo I took of this spot last year, so I tried to recreate it.
The other morning I woke up and there was absolutely no wind at F6.  No wind!  This never happens so I took the opportunity to snap this photo of the Asgard Range reflecting in the Lake moat.  What a strange little valley we live in.  I swear it is on another planet.

View from F6 towards the Canada Glacier.


  1. Hi Zach,
    Thank you for sharing your fun filled summer in Antarctica. It looks like you will be leaving the field before all the water stops flowing. Will the gauge boxes transmit data or only store it until next summer? In any case you did an excellent job of bringing your adventure to life. We thoroughly enjoyed your posts. I wish i could be there to experience the alien Antarctic world.
    Regards, Peter J

    1. Hi Peter,

      Of course thanks so much for following along! Good question. Only a few high priority gauge boxes transmit data, and these will continue to do so for the rest of the summer. All of our gauge boxes store data on removable storage devices. We are in the process of collecting the storage devices from each box right now. The data on these devices represent the first half of this season. After pulling the old storage device we replace it with a new one (clear of any data) to record the second half of the season. So to get back to your question, yes, they will continue to store data as well.

  2. No wind - we had two of those and they were amazing!!! Beautiful photos Zach (as usual!). Check this out - some biology science just out of Antarctica via the Japanese: http://www.sciencealert.com/a-frozen-tardigrade-has-been-brought-back-to-life-after-30-years
    xo Natalie

    1. Haha two days!! That sounds pretty wonderful. Whoa no way the findings from that study are amazing. Some of the life forms down here are so cool! Sometimes looking around I forget that there is anything alive here haha. We just had some folks who study the microbes in the soils and strems here at F6 I wish I could have shown them this.