Monday, January 11, 2010

The roaring 40s

Here we are in the roaring 40s: strong winds and rain. The roaring 40s refers to the latitude at which low pressure systems circle the globe eastward in the Southern Ocean. We are in a storm to the south of New Zealand. We are no longer sheltered by the South Island of New Zealand, because we are too far south, so we feel the full impact of the winds and ocean swell.

Some of my colleagues had to lie down because the ship is suddenly moving a lot more than it did yesterday. I am still not feeling much of a difference; I have never been seasick before, so let's hope I can keep that up.

Outside the weather is mainly miserable. When I was on deck for 10 minutes I saw an albatros or two flying next to the ship and I saw water shooting up through the moonpool: the hole in the center of the ship through which the drillpipe will be lowered when we are on site. You can see the location of the moonpool indicated in the image below. It also shows you where I work, sleep and eat. My cabin is on the Upper Tween Deck, two floors up from the thrusters (more on those later). I share the cabin with Mitsu, a Japanese scientist, who will be on the opposite shift. For more information about the interior of the ship see:

I work in the core lab with the team of sedimentologists and the sedimentology technician. We represent 8 countries: U.S., Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Korea, India, United Kingdom and China (see image below). Today we were instructed on the core flow by the staff scientist and the core curator, so that we know what will happen once core comes up. We also had a lecture from the ice observer and the weather forecaster, two very important people who work with the Captain to ensure our safety in the icy waters around Antarctica. The sea ice conditions at the drillsites on the shelf are looking good based on recent satellite imagery, although we may have to navigate a few decent icebergs of more than a couple of miles long.

1 comment:

Your Dad (The Netherlands) said...

Question: Soon you will reach the Antarctic Convergence line, where the climate becomes polar. Books suggest a distinct frontline, a narrow band, some 30 miles wide and rather stable in location, where water temperature falls suddenly and weather conditions change. Is this true? Is such a clear transition of conditions observable in the middle of the Southern Ocean?