Penguins, Ice Bergs, and Water, Oh My!
This evening, we arrived at the Troll Offload Site at the edge of the Fimbul Ice Shelf (Fimbulisen). After more than 2400 km of driving, we are one step closer to the end of our journey.
Location: Fimbulisen, 70º 06’ S, 5º 19’ E, 17 metres a.s.l.
Weather: Partly cloudy, -11 C, wind 10 kts
After descending over 2500m in the last few days, we have driven north until we can drive north no further, at least not without getting wet. We are at the edge of the Fimbul Ice Shelf, some 2400 km from South Pole. The air is warmer (only -11 C!) and noticeably thicker down here at sea level. The other big changes are the presence of birds (snow petrels, anatarctic petrels, skua gulls), penguins (one lonely Adelie penguin so far), ice bergs (broad, flat topped tabular ice bergs) and open water. The scenery is very much a change from the mostly flat, and very white scenery of the polar plateau we have seen for the last 8 weeks. Certainly the warmer weather is a welcome change. Now that we are so far north, we have actual night here and stars (other than the sun) are visible for the first time since leaving Christchurch.
We will be here at the ice shelf edge for the next few days, repacking our cargo for shipment northwards. In two days, we expect to meet the cargo ship Ivan Papanin, which will take our ice cores, cargo and waste farther north to Cape Town, South Africa. The current schedule calls for loading the ship on 18 Feb, which gives us two days to pack and label everything. It will be a busy time here before we are ready. In the meantime, we find moments to enjoy the scenery, and the warmer weather.
This stop represents the conclusion of the science program. Anna and I have been busy disassembling our radars, and Kirsty has already packed the low-frequency radar away. We need to send as much as possible north on the ship, as the only alternative is to hand-carry the last few items on the flight from Troll Station in a week's time. The flight will be quite crowded, as both the traverse party as well as the entire summer crew from Troll Station will be heading north on the same flight. We are closer to a successful completion of our season, but not quite there yet. Soon ...
Dark nights, icebergs, open water... Photo: Ole Tveiten