19 February, 2009 RRS Ernest Shackleton
TEMPERATURES DROP IN ANTARCTICA
Since I have working for the Antarctic Survey, I have been telling people back home that it is NOT so cold down here in Summer. You have 24 hours of daylight. You have all that UV light being reflected back up off the ground from all that wonderful, white, snow. You have sunny days (mostly) in Summer. And you have the added rule that when you dress for the Cold (as you must do in Antarctica), it invariable turns out to be hot and sweaty inside all those layers and therefore you have to start stripping off again !
However, I am inclined to bow to popular opinion and admit that presently here in Antarctica, it’s colder than a Penguins’ bottom sitting on an Iceberg.
When we pulled in alongside the fast ice of Creek 4 last evening at Halley, we had a nice open stretch of water to cruise through to reach our destination and tied up without incident.
However, since our arrival, our overnight stay has seen the temperatures drop to -16 degrees overnight and an equally impressive -12.8 degrees C at noon today. Then there is a nice 12 knot wind blowing off the Ice Shelf which makes it feel a whole lot cooler, despite a pleasant amount of sunshine today.
But you do not need to watch numbers on a thermometer to see the effects of the cold. A look out of the Bridge Windows on our Port side explains all. I took a first picture for my friend in Indiana at about 10am this morning and shortly after midday I took the shot again to see a very telling tale. What was once ‘open water’ is now a sheet of sea ice and the Shackleton is surrounded on all sides by Ice.
And so I will have to admit that perhaps it’s a little chilly down here in Antarctica.
However, it is also very special, very beautiful and very appealing in the afternoon sunshine.
I, for one, shall be reaching for the skiis and heading out for a wander in the cold temperatures ashore after work this evening.
Author and Photographer.