Dienstag, 23. Februar 2016

Between mountains and sea

A beautiful morning in Ushuaia, Argentina. We are about to embarque on the Beagle that will bring us to the Argentinean base Carlini in Antarctica. I hope, we will have a calm crossing. On the other hand, a bit of wind and the huge swell is what the region is famous for and it would add a lot of drama to the crossing and make for great pictures ;)

Montag, 22. Februar 2016

hot and cold

Cold - hot - cold

I'm off to another trip to Antarctica, well actually, to the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. Most people I tell my itinerary reply "wow! nice! it must be really cold there, right?". No, actually it is not THAT cold, not what people think it would be anyway. It is really the far north of the most southern continent and it is austral summer! It is breeding area for a lot of sea mammals and sea birds, meaning there is considerable melting and ice- and snow free areas. Air temperatures can be well below zero but usually they are around the melting point. Another point is, that it is just on the other side of the Drake passage and the area is prone to low pressure systems and advection of moist and warm air masses from lower latitudes. In plain words, there are a lot of storms, a lot of rain, and temperatures around zero! If it wouldn't be for the really high wind speeds, you could think of my home town in winter, that is a lot of rain, cold and humid, meaning you are always cold and wet. Actually, not really what people picture when they think of "Antarctica". BUT from the scientific view, it is a highly interesting research are due to the magnitude of change you can observe!
There are few people really comprehending that coming here is a major challenge for your body, health and patience.. Like this year again, I left Bonn, Germany, at cold and wet conditions a little above zero, so that everything is muddy and wet, just to arrive to Buenos Aires with about 40 degrees Celsius and high humidity. The first half hour, you enjoy the sun, but then later in the night, you just want to die because of your messed-up sleep (jet lag) and your just melting around the clock..
Patience is what you need, since nothing is going as planned, as this year, I was supposed to leave right the next morning to the Southern end of Argentina to board the ship that would bring me through the Drake passage to King George Island. Of course, this just didn't happen and I spent one week in subtropical conditions.

This morning we finally left with the Hercules TC-66 operated by the Argentinean Airforce to Ushuaia, being met by lovely conditions with high winds and rain. Of course, the conditions were such that our ship could not load the cargo and we are currently really nicely set in the naval base at Ushuaia. It is good that I have a great book with me and a lot of movies so I can pass the time, that I do not work on the computer until we finally can board our ship for our "voyage with the Beagle" across the Drake passage. The sea in this region of the earth is usually so rough, that in order not to get sick, you take pills against sea sickness, at least that is what I will do. That helps! But it also makes you incredibly sleepy and your brain gets the sharpness of a sponge. But in any case, after the last weeks efficient work (nobody disturbing with coffee, email etc), I can take some days off to enjoy the nature and some good movies before we finally get to the Argentinean base Carlini, and to our research site! Actually, I very much look forward to that part of the travel :)