Sunday, February 23, 2014

Goodbye, Antarctica

23 February 2013
Santa Cruz, California

Well, our lab group is now all back in California.  Things got a bit hectic back in McMurdo but I will try to do a quick recap of our exit from Antarctica.  After drilling the final hole, we traversed back to CReSIS camp, where they have a groomed runway.  Because the plane to take us back to McMurdo was rather small, as you can see below, we kept some of our gear out in the field to be used next year when we return (fingers crossed!).
The Basler and
(back row) Grace, Dan, Slawek, Susan, Julie
(front row) Me, Neil, Matt

The views from the plane were stunning.

When we got back to McMurdo the sea ice had largely disappeared. One felt so much more in touch with the world with the ocean lapping at the shores of the town.  The vessel, which comes once at the end of the summer to resupply the station for the winter, arrived and 100 people came down to help with the off-loading and on-loading of the ship.  A good portion of the station was also restricted-access so that the process would be most efficient.

Adelie penguin

The best part about the open water was access to wildlife.  For the past five weeks we saw one bird, but now we could see penguins, seals and orca whales. 
The water looks so blue because the floor is ice

Weddell seal

We were able to wrap things up in McMurdo fairly quickly.  Unfortunately we weren't able to get Neil on our flight out of the field and then some weather delays pushed his flight back to a week after ours.  Both Neil and I took two weeks in New Zealand to re-acclimate.  What a contrast with the white desert it was.  We were surprised to encounter almost as much isolation on the hiking trails as we did in Antarctica. 

Well, now it's back to sitting in front of a computer screen.  What diverse experiences grad school has offered so far.  All in the name of science... and because we find it fun.