Holt, T.O., Glasser, N.F., Quincey, D. and Siegfried, M.R., 2013. Speedup and fracturing of George VI Ice Shelf, Antarctic Peninsula. The Cryosphere, 7: 797-816.
George VI Ice Shelf
George VI Ice Shelf, Alexander Island, showing ice flowing onto the ice shelf from both the Antarctic Peninsula and Alexander Island
Alexander Island and George VI Ice Shelf is an area I’m particularly interested in (see our project details), and the ice shelf is worth investigating for several reasons. For a start, it’s unusual, being trapped between the mainland and Alexander Island, and secondly, because it’s right on the -9°C mean annual air temperature isotherm (like a contour, but of mean annual air temperatures). Some people have argued that this mean annual air temperature is the critical threshold above which ice shelves may dramatically collapse, which has implications for accelerated flow of glaciers and ice-sheet thinning. Ice shelves are also susceptible to warming from below by warm currents penetrating onto the continental shelf. So, research into this important part of the peninsula is always welcome. Holt and colleagues have just completed a study (open access) that investigates the response of George VI Ice Shelf to environmental change (i.e., oceanic and atmospheric temperature variations), and offer an assessment as to its future stability (Holt et al., 2013). Continue reading
Tuesday 4th December
Today we were uplifted without fuss and were back at Rothera by mid-afternoon. I took great pleasure in showering, and then eating as much food as I could in the evening meal! It’s great to be here and everyone has welcomed us back. There are lots of new faces around base, which is much busier than when we left. The snow has also melted much more, and gravel is visible. It’s quite warm – highs of -02 to -04 degrees, and sunny. I don’t believe you get bad weather in Antarctica! Tonight, we shall all enjoy a few bevvies in the bar. Continue reading
Saturday 1st December
After a final difficult day striking camp and manhauling everything out to the new depot and skiway on Friday, we were airlifted out and moved to Fossil Bluff, where there is a small hut and a fuel depot. We joined Andy and Rob, who are responsible for maintaining the hut (Bluebell Cottage) and skiway and for refuelling the planes that pass through to field parties all over the pace. Although Bluebell Cottage is very basic, it is luxury compared with the last month. It is warm and there are beds, and it is good to have a table and chairs again! Continue reading
Wednesday 28th November
Today we took all but essential living kit (leaving behind the pyramid tent, P-bags, tent box, pots box, medical box and 1 manfood box) out to the depot. I had two sledges with my orange BAS kitbag, rucksack, 1 rock box, and the red geology trunk. So a reasonable load, perhaps slightly less than on my our input (either that, or I am fitter!). Ian had a massive sledge as usual. Mike had his kit bag, rucksack and the Irridium phone pelicase. Continue reading
Friday 23rd November
It has been an exciting few days as we near the end of our third week. Yesterday we had a good, fruitful day in Unnamed Valley and today we walked right to the head of Ablation Valley. We climbed to the top of The Mound, a large bedrock hump in the middle of the valley, where we found some massive boulders on the ice surface. They probably originated from a rock fall onto the glacier surface, at some unknown time ago. We also mapped and sampled some cosmo samples from the high glacier lateral moraines. At this elevation, we appear to be above the drift bearing Palmer Land granite erratics. Continue reading
Thursday 15th November
Ablation Point in the fog
Today, like yesterday, was relatively warm, wet, windy, overcast and foggy. Pretty miserable weather with a cold wet wind and snow. I prefer it when it is colder but dry – this temperature (-03°C, wet, humid), is most unpleasant. Like an English winter! Continue reading
Friday 9th November
Ian Hey amonst the snow snakes – blowing snow, snaking over the land
And so fieldwork begins. Today we have had exceptionally good weather. -08°C, clear, sunny, no wind. Yesterday was rather windier with many snow snakes that I spent ages (rather unsuccessfully) trying to photograph. Continue reading
Monday 5th November
We were dropped into Ablation Valley in the afternoon following a morning of waiting for a weather window. We finally departed around 4 pm following the arrival of the Dash-7 at 3:01 pm local time.
Thursday 1st November
We use skidoos to get around. This one is named after my sister Sian!
Today our training for deep field began in earnest. We were given a more extended tour, taught how to safely drive skidoos, how to avoid being eaten by aeroplane propellers (Rothera is a busy airport with one of the few gravel strip runways in the area), how to use the items in the field medical boxes, and how to light and prime a tilly lamp and primus stove. Continue reading
Introducing the Antarctic Diaries. This series of blog articles is about my exploits at Rothera and Alexander Island with Michael Hambrey, a professor at Aberystwyth University. Continue reading