Friday, May 13, 2011

Snippets of Life on the Ice

Susanne Neuer left earlier this week, but we were joined by ASU undergraduate Mark Wiener. Here are a few portraits of the current science team:

Mark Wiener digging out a spot for drilling an ice core.
Craig Aumack warming up with some tomato soup, our lunch of choice when we're out on the ice.
Amy Hansen taking a break to build a snowman. Arctic snow is far too dry and powdery to pack, but you can cut out styrofoam-like blocks!
Andy Juhl using the ice auger to drill a hole through the sea ice.

This ice auger is a different tool from the one we use to take ice core sections. Instead of collecting the ice, the auger lets us cut out holes through which we can lower various kinds of equipment. The tricky part is that we have to drill several holes side by side to achieve a hole wide enough to use anything larger than the underwater camera. This is much harder than it sounds.

See the ice bridge in the lower left? That's not conducive to lowering large equipment into the water.
The underwater video camera, which sends a video feed to a monitor we can watch from our dry perch above the water.
Once our specialized camcorder arrives, we'll be able to capture and upload videos of the creatures that live under the thick layer of sea ice, from carpets of algae to marine isopods to comb jellies!

Speaking of algae, here's a shot taken through the eyepiece of our lab microscope of a dense sample of ice algae. Most of the organisms you see are diatoms, single-celled photosynthetic organisms with cell walls made of silica.

 The algae carpet the bottom of our ice cores, as evidenced by this photo:

 In an earlier post, we mentioned the pure blue ice you find breaking the monotony of the largely barren, colorless Arctic landscape.

The exterior of this block is covered in snow, but you can see the blue interior through a crack in the ice.
The other thing that interrupts the pristine white fields of snow? Polar bears. We haven't seen any more since our distant sighting last week, but we did come across the tracks of two bears--likely an adult and a cub--that crossed our snowmobile trail sometime yesterday between when we drove out to the ice and when we came back.

1 comment:

  1. Great post - love the fish camera, the snowman, and the polar bear prints - glad the polar bears weren't right there making those tracks as you were taking the picture though. More pictures of diatoms, please.