Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Re: Day 22 -The sky scrapers roll by

Orkney Passage is done and dusted. It is now time to steam east. We are
headed to the southern end of the creatively named 'A23 Section'. Why
are we travelling hundreds of nautical miles in the ocean just to travel
back slowly along a straight line named after a minor road in Southern
England...you ask? We'll once again the oceanographic community is well
organised and virtuous (but perhaps not particularly flamboyant). There
are certain straight lines marked out across the ocean called 'repeat
sections'. These are lines along which the ocean is repeatedly observed.
Sometimes every year, sometimes every few but whenever we can we go back
to the same place. Looking at the data over many voyages we can begin to
understand how the ocean varies, what is turbulent what isn't and, over
many years, whether there are consistent changes occurring. A23 is one
of those sections and runs from the centre of the Weddell Sea to South

We come across a large row of emigrating ice bergs. At one point Gwen
counts 48 icebergs scattered evenly across our 360 degree horizon. One
particular iceberg named '52' (yet another triumph in oceanographic
naming creativity) is colossal on the horizon. Brian, Sean, JB, Pierre
and I debate its possible size 'a mile long' - 'no! half a mile' - 'as
big as a football stadium'. This being our down time from the continuous
measurement taking, calibration and quantification, that is our daily
toil, we choose not to extend our discussion to any real attempt to
quantify the berg's size. Anyway, George quickly bursts our bubble by
stating in a deep scottish voice 'Ach it's just a wee tablet'.

That very morning I saw an unidentified object in the water. I know I am
not very trustworthy in this regard...and I am not suggesting it is an
alien, woolly mammoth etc...but I wanted to know if anyone could help
identify it?

Photo: The wee tablet. Referred to as such because it is broad and flat.

Photo: Sean, JB and Pierre looking out from the instrument room.

Photo: This was bobbing up out of the water. What you see is about ½ to
1 m wide. It stayed down soon after I took the photo so it probably
isn't dirty ice. It could be a seal or the head of a small whale...anyone?

Photo: Our next destination. The two moorings we hoped to collect where
in 99% sea ice covered areas yesterday...so they'll have to wait till
next year.

Oh and sorry to all those that expected blog posts the last few
days..the internet has been a little slow...and I think that is a fair
excuse considering ;-). Thanks so much to Andrew for taking the reigns
recently too!



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