Monthly Archives: December 2014

The Pressure Ridges

Pressure Ridge:
A comparatively rectilinear conglomeration of ice fragments formed by pressure at the contact line between icefloes, usually along earlier existing cracks and leads or at the boundary between ice floes of different age. In this case, isostatically unbalanced hummocks usually form on the older ice surface. Ice ridges can also form as a result of direct fracturing of ice fields of thick and even first-year and multiyear ice at very strong pressures. The underwater portion of a ridge is termed an ice keel.

For the last two seasons down here I’ve volunteered to take groups out on the sea ice pressure ridges in front of the New Zealand research station, Scott Base.  I went out about once a week for month and it is incredible to see the slow, yet rapid, changes that occur as the days get longer and the temperatures higher.

November 12th

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November 24th

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December 4th

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December 8th

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December 18th

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Cape Evans

One evening, about a month ago, I rode out in a Delta to the historic hut at Cape Evans.  We drove north from McMurdo on the sea ice for a slow hour, parked this side of a large crack and continued on by foot.  The half-hour walk from the truck to the hut on the blue sea ice with giant frozen icebergs looming on all sides was impressive; one of the more beautiful spots I’ve ever been on earth.

The history of the hut is here: http://www.nzaht.org/content/library/History_of_Scotts_Cape_Evans_Expedition.pdf.  It looks as if one day the explorers woke up, walked out of the door and just never came back.  Seal blubber stacked to burn, a dead penguin on a table (science experiment??) still fat, looking like it could have been alive only weeks ago, huge stores of food in fading wooden crates and rusting cans, animal skin bedding, woolen clothing, a darkroom, postcards tacked to the walls… frozen in time.

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