Hi there, hoping you are doing well. I am nearing the end of my third full week at Lake Hoare. It has been exciting and exhilarating time, but I feel a bit weary and worn-out after many days of tromping around on the glaciers. I put anywhere from 7 to 10 kilometers of walking with crampons on uneven surface everyday. A couple of the days I was trudging along on snow, but most of the time it is blue ice. When I am on the glacier I am in heaven, but by the time I get home I am ready to fall asleep in my dinner. My eyes especially feel very tired, which is probably a consequence of being outside all day. I am now finished making the glacier measurements on the Canada, Taylor, Howard, Commonwealth, Hughes and Suess Glaciers. The glaciers are quite different from those in temperate regions. They have little debris on top and the terminus are almost vertical. Most glaciers in North America and Europe have lots of debris, especially near the bottom and the terminus usually have more of a low angle slope.
I have attached a picture taken from the Howard Glacier looking across the valley towards the Canada Glacier. The Lake Hoare camp, which is where I am staying is just too the left of the Canada Glacier. The measurements I make on the glaciers are fairly simple in nature. I just measure the height of bamboo stakes, which are drilled into the surface and side of the glaciers. Most of the stakes are in areas where the ice melts or sublimates (goes from a solid to vapor) through the year. The stakes are drilled down about 6 feet and measured twice a year. Every year the ice on the surface of most of the glaciers melt or sublimates at most 15cm (6 inches), very small compare to glaciers in more temperate parts of the world. Other stakes are drilled to shallow depths in ares where snow typically accumulates year after year. In these cases the stake is not drilled very far into the ice, since they would be buried fairly quickly. Measuring the surface gives a good pulse of the changes occurring during the winter and summer. Since the glacier are the only contributor of water to the lakes that exist in the valley, it is important to understand the connection between changes in the glacier and the local climate. I will be making the rounds on the glaciers again in January, to see how much has changed over the balmy summer.
Traveling on the glaciers can be unnerving at times. I have gotten use to walking around with crampons on, though I first I was so sure they would hold me on steep slopes. Slipping on these glaciers is not something I want to do on a regular basis. The upper parts of the glaciers, though covered with snow, have there own hidden dangers. There are areas where crevasses, or cracks in the ice exist. The snow occasionally covers those cracks, but can not hold any significant weight. On the upper parts of the glaciers I am roped in to an experience guide who is ready to help me if I happen to fall into a crevasse. Fortunately I have only stuck my foot into several small crevasses so far.
Now that I am finished with the glacier measurements, I am ready to move on to some other smaller projects. Thanksgiving is come up, which is a big to do out here. There will probably be about 25 people or so here during the day. Folks come from all parts of the valley to participate in the
festivities. The only requirement is that folks bring their own chair. There is also a celebration of Thanksgiving back in McMurdo, which is the main headquarters for operations in this part of Antarctica, on the weekend, but I think I will stay here through the weekend. Some time after
Thanksgiving I will head back to McMurdo to do first and foremost, laundry. It will be nice to have showers several days in a row and have some clean clothes. Yahoo!
Have a great Thanksgiving and please drop me a line when you get a chance. Would love to hear how life is going for you....Thomas