Field Update: Jan. 20, 2011

Today I presented the new NOVA special “Secrets Beneath the Ice” to the community attending the premier in the McMurdo Galley. There were about 150 to 200 people in all, and from what I could tell they enjoyed the special. The viewing screen was a bit dark because of the light source of the projector displaying the DVD to the screen, but overall it all went well.

I read an email from Gary Hochman at NET (Nebraska Educational Telecommunications) to the McMurdo community thanking them for all of their efforts during the filming of this video and recognized all of their contributions to the making of this special over the three seasons that NET.

I highlighted the educational resources that are available in addition to the NOVA DVD and gave the audience information about where to find and download these resources from the ANDRILL website. These resources are continuing to grow and expand through the efforts of the ANDRILL Science Management Office and other teachers and classrooms across the United States and around the world who are participating in Flexhibits (Flexible Exhibits) that use educational posters and activities that were created in parallel with the NOVA production by the Nebraska State Museum, through the efforts of Judy Diamond, LuAnn Dahlman, Angie Fox and their collaboration with the ANDRILL Science Management Office, including Megan Berg, Richard Levy, David Harwood, Louise Huffman, Rita Thomas, Katia Kontar and others, including myself (see URLs below).

Among the resources available from the ANDRILL website are additional short videos produced by NET, with funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, that focus on the same themes as the five (5) Flexhibit posters and activities. There is also a Flash animation of the ice shelf-ice sheet system moving forward and back in response to changes in temperature. The user can control the temperature to explore how changes impact the ice movement. The Flash animation was created by Matteo Cattadori for the Italian educational program, Progetto Smilla. Give it a try!!

One of the highlights of recent education and outreach efforts is the booklet entitled “Antarctica” that highlights the range of activities undertaken by the U.S. Antarctic Program in Antarctica. It is available for downloading to your computers from the ANDRILL webpage under “Publications”.

I then presented some of the outcomes of the Coulman High Project surveys from this year’s season and answered questions about what we have accomplished in the past 4 months since we arrived in Antarctica. The talk and discussion session went on until about 10:30 PM and the crowd was tired, but still interested in the outcomes of our ANDRILL research.

Much of what I’m doing at this stage of the season, in addition to communicating with the ANDRILL camp and helping to facilitate their requests, is helping to communicate the outcomes of our continuing research efforts to various audiences and stakeholder groups, including a National Research Council (NRC) Committee on the Future of Antarctic Research, who were here visiting McMurdo Station and other U.S. facilities in Antarctica this week. I presented our research outcomes to them and highlighted the exciting discoveries made by the SCINI ROV under the ice.

All of these discussions are helpful for highlighting the important work being done by the U.S. Antarctic Program and the discoveries being made as a result of this research, which includes the ANDRILL projects and the role of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in Antarctic science and engineering.

Out at the ANDRILL camp, the oceanographers have refurbished the NIWA mooring and have acquired a permit from New Zealand that allows them to redeploy this mooring for the winter months, and hopefully for several years. This will allow the continuing collection of oceanographic data in the ice shelf cavity during the months when the Ross Sea Polynya freezes over for the winter and is covered by sea ice, and also when the Polynya opens up during the following austral spring and allows the upwelling of warmer modified Circumpolar Deep Water (mCDW) in the area just in front of the ice shelf. We will all learn a lot about the annual cycle in this region from the data collected by this long-term mooring.

In the coming days, we’ll move the hot water drill to Site #2 and pick up the U.S. mooring, and then we’ll prepare to traverse all of the equipment back to McMurdo Station and Scott Base, ending this season’s ANDRILL adventure. I’ll send a few more blogs as we finish up our work – stay tuned!

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