Monitoring Sea Ice Depth

During Antarctica's austral summer, the depth of the annual ice pack must be measured at least twice weekly to ensure the safety of all traffic. When the sea ice melts to less than three feet thick, it will be closed for the season.

Inside the Hagglund, our sea ice vehicle.

The typical Antarctic scene, the only colors being white and blue, and the 'BIG RED' of our issued cold-weather jackets.

The Hagglund parked in front of the Barnes Glacier.

Sea ice fractures start off small, then heal themselves as the Ross Sea fills in the crack and refreezes. The fracture will open again, then freeze again, sometimes so often that the size of the fracture can eventually become over 30 feet wide.

These large fractures are measured in depth throughout the season. First, a trough is shoveled out perpendicular to the fracture.

Then a whole is drilled at each location that a fracture had once opened.

Sometimes the depth of the fracture is amazingly deep.

But, when the depth of the ice reaches 1 meter, or only 3 feet thick, travel on the sea ice outside of McMurdo station is closed for the season.


Danielle said...

Wow, what an amazing experience! Thank you for all your hard efforts, I love reading about them and following your story through your photographs!Your work is certainly paying off, and you will have magazine editors pounding on your door!Cute seals too, and they let you get so close!Peace out, and stay warmer than those of us still in Missoula:)

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