Antarctica Bromocarbon Project Weekly Updates – Week Two

Week Two

Flagging sites in Western Erebus Bay

This week was spent on exciting reconnaissance work! The previous week we had decided on three areas (sea ice near Scotts Base, Western Erebus Bay, Northern Erebus Bay) to explore suitable weekly sampling locations. Our criteria were the presence of i) snow and ii) bromocarbons; feasible iii) ice thickness (not too thick for coring) and iv) snow mobile driving distance from McMurdo Station. Monday, we went out to the Scotts Bay area on snow mobiles, flagged 9 future weekly sampling sites, marked GPS waypoints, dug a snow pit for snow depth, hardness and density, and obtained snow and ice samples to run a host of tests in the lab (bromocarbons, UV decimation, cell abundance, protein concentrations). The ice was very thick (2.7 m). We succeeded in coring a 1 m sea-ice core. It became quickly obvious that the ice present was too hard to obtain a full-length ice core. On our second reconnaissance day to beautiful Western Erebus Bay the weather cooperated. We discovered that both snow and sea ice were less hard, not quite as thick, and with a lot of effort we succeeded in the challenging task to obtain a full-length ice core (2.4 m!). We have also been working hard in the lab to get our first bromocarbon (and other data) on our snow and ice cores, and were excited to learn that the surface layers of snow and ice had high concentrations of bromocarbons! We were all geared up with the Piston Bully running to embark on our third field outing to Northern Erebus Bay but strong winds and a prevailing storm prevented us from going. However, we have now identified a beautiful site that meets all our criteria, and are preparing for next week’s first weekly sampling of Western Erebus Bay.  One of us (Emma) also gave two remote lectures from here to undergraduate level classes (200 plus students, University of Washington, “Intro into Marine Science”, “Physiology”) this week as part of our outreach work while being here in Antarctica. The rad lab was also set up and we are running preliminary 3H leucine activity tests on reconnaissance samples. Attached are some pictures from our first week!

Measuring sea ice temperature in top ice near Scotts Base, and bottom ice in Western Erebus Bay, Snow density measurements near Scott Base.