Tag Archives: pressure ridges

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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Pretty things and some beef

These are photos from over the past month or so – things look a bit different now, as with the warmer weather (up to 32 today!) and massive amounts of daylight (the sun BLAZES into my room at 2:00 a.m.) things are rapidly melting and shifting, but they give a good feel of the place…

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View from Ob(servation) Hill a short walk from town. There are lots of crosses on hills here from the early 1900s.
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Looking towards Scott Base and THE Pressure Ridges – seems not right to capitalize them, but they are THE only ones we talk about on the regular here.
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Ice Runway a couple miles from town. That’s where I used to recreate almost daily – now it’s closed for the season in anticipation of the ice melting and giving way to open ocean and… PENGUINS! The new runway is a 14 mile trek on the permanent ice shelf on an often very squishy ice road – yesterday they banned light vehicles and only tracked vehicles and these jobbers – called Deltas – could drive out there. Will snap a more impressive shot of these monsters soon.
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Deltas and dirty melting snow
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Town from above. In a few short weeks we have lost all of the snow on the streets and it is nice and brown and dusty now. It snowed yesterday for a bit, but the sun came out today and melted the dusting away from the dust.
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View back towards Mt. Erebus – highly active volcano with a near constant plume of smoke billowing out of it.
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Science/ weather (?) equipment on the way down from Ob Hill
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Back at sea level, a gorgeous night for a midnight ski (not the greatest skate ski conditions however – see tire tracks).
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So pretty
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My head, Ob Hill and McMurdo in the background
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The next night, around midnight once again, I rode my bike out to the ice runway where I popped into the runway galley to say hi to a friend cooking up the midnight meal for the night shifters (we call them MidRats). The light was amazing.
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Gloves left in the runway restrooms, which are now 14 miles away, along with the galley, firehouse, control towers and all the other portable buildings on skis that support this little runway operation connecting us to the real world and scientists to their camps.
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I co-guided a Pressure Ridge tour
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As evidenced by ice axe
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Penguin!
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Seals – they always look dead. They’ll flap their little flippers sometimes, but mostly they just look dead. We had to detour around three of these dudes just off the path this night. Later this week I did actually see a seal propelling itself across the ice for the first time – impressive how fast those little flippers made all that warm blubber move!

Speaking of fat and meat and beef, after writing that last blog post I got to thinking about our beef situation. The next day I started taking pictures of every beef dish at every meal I attended in the galley. I’m still snapping away, always strapped with my camera during meal times. People don’t get why I’m taking pictures of the food and get a little weirded out about it. If they ask why I’m taking pictures of the food, I let them know I’m really only taking pictures of the beef, in all its many forms. Here are just a few of what will soon be hundreds. I have no idea what to do with all of these photos…
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Prime rib
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“Italian Style Beef Ribs!”
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All beef franks

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Sea Ice Meets Ice Shelf

And a pressure ridge is born. 

Last weekend I trained to be a pressure ridge tour guide.  It was gorgeous and informative.  Now I can take groups of people out on the sea ice to meander through the pressure ridges and bask in the beauty.  Along a flagged route of course.  This is government endorsed activity after all!

 

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First flag of the route

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Seals relaxing in the sun

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Looking at ice and learning

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More of that… armed with cameras and me, with my back to the camera, armed with a metal probe for testing out cracks and any iffy areas. You’d think everyone in the group would want the poker, right? Wrong. I had to wear a super warm mitten on one hand to hold this stupid thing, and a thin glove on the other to operate my camera. Someone finally asked if he could use the poker and I refused to take it back when he tried to return it. Ha!

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Me and my office mate Katie jumping for pressure ridges!

I’m hoping to take my first group out next week. I’m super excited.

In the meantime, it’s Halloween. Karaoke, horror movies and lots of candy at the bars tonight. A mellow excuse to dress up and eat sweets – tomorrow is a work day! The big party is reserved for Saturday as the majority of the station is off on Sunday. This is the party of the year I am told. When I asked my friend Burke what I should bring to Antarctica, the first thing he said was a Halloween costume. I’m saving that one for Saturday. Tonight I dressed up as “Found” – every item I’m wearing, down to my socks and shoes, has been discarded by someone else and found by me! My counterpart is “Lost” – he also happens to be the awesome photographer, James, who snapped the pics that I’m in. Tonight he was strapped with a map, sandals, shorts and a Hawaiian shirt. One person actually guessed what we were! Most everyone else was still confused even after we explained it.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

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