Katie Joy, McMurdo Station, 26th January 2013
In the last few days the ANSMET systematic team’s cargo was returned from Ottway Massif. The team have been cleaning up and inventorying gear, and packing up equipment in preparation for the next field season. Five members – Tomoko, Joe, Marianne, Rob and Andrew – left McMurdo Station this morning (Saturday) on two C-130 flights off continent. They are currently winging their way towards New Zealand (see photo of the plane carrying Tomoko, Joe and Marianne flying over McMurdo Sound) and hopefully be back in Christchurch by dinner time tonight. For a while Stan and I were also on the way with them (we were halfway out to the airfield on Ivan the Terror bus), but because of the busy travel schedule on continent at the moment we have now been rescheduled to leave on Monday along with Jim and John. It is hoped that the warm weather around McMurdo will abate a little for the ice runway here to freeze so that a C-17 plane with larger passenger capacity can arrive here next week.
There are now several large patches of open water in McMurdo Sound where the sea ice has melted, and the icebreaker and resupply ships are due to deliver soon with supplies for McMurdo and South Pole for the coming year. After unloading its cargo, the resupply ship will return to the US full of trash and waste to be recycled overseas to reduce the human impact on Antarctica. The open water in the Sound is increasing every day and Weddell seals surround the newly opened holes. Two days ago some of the team managed to spot a tiny black spot on the ice near Hut Point (in the very far distance) that turned out to be a lone Emperor penguin, which was of great excitement to everyone (see photo). Seeing her friend in the distance inspired Priscilla the recon team penguin to return to the open water of McMurdo Sound to catch up with her own kind, but she hopes to catch back up with the ANSMET team next year.
PS – If you have sent a package to the ANSMET team and you haven’t seen us thank you on the blog then we apologise – all large packages have been held up in New Zealand since 10th Dec 2012 because of difficulties with flight loads and many haven’t been delivered to us. We are grateful that you thought of us and hope that next year’s teams will enjoy the treats. Thanks to Amy for sending through the delicious caramel.