IceTrek: En Route to Marambio Station, Antarctica: 26 January - 4 February
Please credit the National Snow and Ice Data Center for image or content use.
The team left Rio Gallegos and flew to Marambio, Antarctica, along with their equipment and gear.
Ted writes, "We've arrived in Marambio, and had a very good first day. All the gear has arrived, and we have been given an excellent office area to work in. We have some email and FTP access. The Argentines with whom we are staying are the most welcoming, friendly people you could ask for. I haven't walked by a single person, here, who hasn't said one of the many versions of '"hi" in Spanish. Marambio has the most beautiful setting of any Antarctic base I have ever seen—a rugged glacier-rock-ocean-ice symphony in Nature; stark, yet dynamic and dramatic. Seymour Island, ours, is a soft mesa of gravel and till, eroded into desert alluvial landforms, with no tree, shrub, or even blade of grass to break the mineral sculpture formed in the battle between rain, snow, and sediment. Fossils everywhere attest to an interesting past."
The team has named the "iceberglet," located at located at 65.6 S and 59.85 W, on which they are hoping to set up a small monitoring station. The name they've chosen: AMIGOSberg, for Automated Met-Ice-Geophysics Observing Station. The team continues to monitor AMIGOSberg, noting that the iceberg has apparently circled the front of the Larsen B Iceshelf a couple of times, and may be circling again.
More from Ted and Rob: "The Irizar is unstuck and on its way, but with a new schedule. We hope it will arrive around Feb 24, but we have several possible scenarios to work with. Weather will be getting bad here shortly (late tonight, they tell us), but afterward there will be a couple of recon flights over the Larsen B (Twin Otter) and Larsen A (helo). The first of these may cross the AMIGOSberg and we can see what the surface looks like. We are also planning a quick test of the 25-Mhz and 250-Mhz radar, on either Snow Hill Island just to the south, or on one of the many micro-bergs just off of Marambio ("micro" meaning 2km down to the size of an ice cube). It may be possible to reach AMIGOSberg from Marambio if it drifts very favorably, but the better chance is with the Irizar late in February. Same with A22A: we will get a good shot at it as the Irizar leaves the area, with us on board, towards Orcadas. We just need cooperative weather."
Ted Scambos writes, "The U.S. Team members, at the invitation of Pedro Skvarca of the Division of Glaciology, Argentine Institute for Antarctica, visited Argentina's Parque Nacional los Glaciares. The team toured the edge of the Perito Moreno Glacier, a huge (35 km long, 140 m thick) glacier flowing eastward from the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. Pedro arranged a boat to take the team across the front of the glacier, sailing across the large glacier-fed Lago Argentina.
For the trip, the team rented a light truck and drove across the eastern pampas of Argentina to El Calafate, a resort town just east of the park, and then to the glacier observing areas. We owe a debt of thanks to Luciano Pera of Hielo & Adventura (located in El Calafate) for providing the excursion at no charge at the request of Pedro, and to Chacho Schupbach and Maximillio for their hospitality as well. Pedro also arranged a visit by a glacier park expert, Jorge Lenz, who provided a detailed description of the characteristics and history of the glacier. Glacier Perito Moreno, unlike most glaciers on earth, has remained relatively stationary over the past 10,000 years, retreating only a small amount in the past few years. Currently, it terminates on the far side of the lake, bifurcating it, and separating the waters into two distinct water bodies. In 2003, this glacial dam broke down, releasing a significant amount of water to the main lake. At present the ice dam appears stable."
Jorge also showed us a GPS installation used to monitor post-glacial-age uplift of the area. During the past ice age, the ice was as much as 1,500 m thicker at the present front of the glacier. The removal of this huge weight is resulting in rapid uplift of the areas. Dr. Robert Smalley of the University of Tennessee maintains the GPS observing site, located approximately 200 m above the glacier and 500 m ahead of the ice front.
The U.S. team remains on the Rio Gallegos Air Force Base. Currently, the flight to Marambio is scheduled for Sunday morning. Once the team arrives in Marambio, the group will have a week to prepare the sensing equipment and weather tower for deployment. However, the team may have more than a week at Marambio—the icebreaker, the Irizar, is still bound up in ice in the southern Weddell Sea.
Right now, the main target iceberg, A22A, is about 206 kilometers northeast of Marambio, moving 2 kilometers per day. The team also continues to monitor the "iceberglet," a second possible target for an iceberg station near Robertson Island.
The U.S. team has arrived at the Rio Gallegos Air Force Base in Argentina, where the group is preparing equipment for loading onto the C-130 Cargo Aircraft. The team is staying at the Air Field so that they can easily and quickly be ready for the flight south to Marambio Station, Antarctica, as soon as they receive word about timing. Weather and schedule factors have delayed their departure for a few days. The team continues to review several icebergs that are in the area near Marambio Station, with A22A still the primary target.
The team arrived in Rio Gallegos by truck yesterday. Ted Scambos writes, "We drove across the Patagonian countryside today--saw guanaco, rheas, lots of jack rabbits and several thousand sheep. Rio Gallegos is a bit rumpled, nice street fronts but a few abandoned buildings. The town has Internet, a good coffee shop, and beds--all the basics. Last night's dinner in Punta Arenas was excellent, and we are hoping for another tasty meal tonight."
The Irizar, the ice breaker that the team will be boarding later in their journey, is stuck in the ice far south of Marambio. The team plans to be in Rio Gallegos until February 3 or so. The U.S.-based support team members, Terry Haran and Jennifer Bohlander, continue to watch Iceberg A22A carefully.
The U.S. team arrived safely in Punta Arenas, Chile, and was met by John Evans of Raytheon Polar Services. John, a former Everest mountaineer, smoothed the way for the team's journey across southern Patagonia, and assisted the team with equipment and logistics.
On the flight down, Ted Scambos realized that one patch of ice in the Larsen B embayment is actually a small, 9km x 12km iceberg. The team is now deciding if it will be possible to set up a simple station on the "iceberglet," using some of the team's spare equipment--a camera, flag lines, and internal GPS. There won't be a lot of time for the team to do this extra scientific task, so the team will have to consider the logistics carefully.
Today, the team organized survival gear and will load all their cargo onto a truck bound for an Argentine Air Base near Rio Gallegos. Plans are for a Monday departure to Rio Gallegos and for flying to Marambio Station, Antarctica, on 2 February via an Argentine Air Force C-130 cargo aircraft.
This morning, Ted Scambos and Rob Bauer left Denver, Colorado, for Santiago, Chile. Ted and Rob will meet up with Jonathan Thom and Ronald Ross in Dallas, Fort Worth airport. Tomorrow, the group will catch another flight to Punta Arenas, Chile.