In Memory of Ice Station Minke



Antarctica, generally deemed the harshest of continents, demonstrated this reputation to us today.   As daylight broke in a cloudless sky, we initiated science by deploying a CTD beneath 4 inches of ice that formed last night. Despite the 20 knot winds and temperatures ranging from 20 to -25șC (-50șC with wind chill!), excited scientists scattered out on the ice to build Ice Station Minke. The ice team set out to collect a series of ice cores to investigate changes in composition of the ice structure, algal biomass and microbial communities (bottom center photo).  Samples were collected despite the repeated freezing of ice cores to the barrel shaft.  Additionally, the ice crew solicited help from the sealers, the penguin folk and the nutrient guy to shovel two quadrants created to monitor how varying light concentrations effect algal and microbial productivity (Top photo).  Bundled divers preferred the relative warmth of 2șC seawater to the potentials of freezing air exposure, demonstrated by Karina Johnston’s frozen eyelashes (bottom left photo).   After setting up transect lines under the ice, divers used suction tubes to collect samples of phytoplankton growing on the undersurface.   Surfacing inside the Scott Tent, Eric Hessel hands off his suction tube to be carried inside before freezing solid (bottom left photo).  With a solid day of science complete, folks gathered on the bridge to watch the sunset and as it turns out, to discover a large lead had opened near the Station.  The difficulty of studying a dynamic ice system is that it is dynamic.  Consequently, we watched the harshest aspect of our day unfold.  The ice crumbled and cracked, dislodged the ship and consequently, Ice Station Minke was destroyed.  We collected our gear off the ice and made plans to find a new station first light tomorrow.  Photos by Dan Costa (Ice Corers) and Kerry Claffey (Ice Station).