By Henrik Christiansen |
Scientists are very busy people (which is also why they rarely write blog entries on time). To be honest most of them could serve as textbook examples of ‘a workaholic’. One may roam the ship at any impossible (night) time and will stumble across sleepy creatures that ‘just’ quickly download the latest satellite maps, or do the ice observation, or you meet highly concentrated scientists musing about the latest papers or even finishing some core samples in full work gear. 72 hour work days are possible, as long as there´s enough coffee. Polarstern never sleeps. Also thanks to the amazing support of the crew, which has to work very hard for this.
Each working group follows its own rhythm. If the oceanographers are busy, the biologists are usually less so and vice versa. Weekend and ordinary working times are not part of most scientist’s vocabulary. Nevertheless, they do exist – the times of relaxation, to recover, to distract and to ease one’s mind.
But what to do in a place more than 1000 miles away from the next noteworthy civilization? Polarstern has the answer for this, too. Library, presentation/cinema room, gymn, sauna, yes even a swimming pool are waiting for physically or mentally exhausted guests. Many card games are played on board, next to dancing and singing lessons. The spontaneously founded choir did not only sing for Christmas, but will also give a final concert. Differently themed parties are thrown in the ship’s own little bar. Popular presentations about whales, weather phenomena, and plate tectonics are entertaining as much as taped rock concerts are. Close to Ronne ice shelf there was even some time for a soccer match on ice.
So, everything should be fine. If they now just had fresh tomatoes as well… Then even taking part in each Sunday’s weighing club would be less hard. Let´s get back to more serious topics briefly: with all these opportunities the 6 British Antarctic Survey colleagues that work on ice at the Ronne depot must have felt like being in heaven during the 1-3 nights they could stay aboard. We unloaded lots of supplies and coring material at this depot at the very edge of the ice shelf in the southern Weddell Sea. This will be used to drill holes in the ice, thus enabling measurements underneath the ice shelf. A product of international collaboration that shall give insights about the changes of the Filchner Ronne ice shelf – an area roughly as big as the North Sea.
Our four adventurers of the seals and ROV team (see here blog entry: „About Weddell seals and ROV“ an German magazine Spiegel online) probably had similar feelings. Being back on the ship after roughly 4 weeks in the Drescher inlet, they hardly had enough time to shower and tell us about their experiences. A long journey home with stops on various Antarctic field stations is awaiting them. That much should be said: their journey on and under the ice was definitively successful!
After these visitors the ship has now returned to a somewhat quieter atmosphere, if it wasn´t for this thing with Neptune and unbaptized passengers… At this point we´ll stick to the weekly report´s recommendation – if you want to know more, please ask the affected personally.
Best wishes from Polarstern,
Henrik Christiansen, University of Leuven