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UAB in Antarctica

Snowy Palmer Station.

April brings dramatic changes to Palmer. The days grow rapidly shorter – literally by losing about 6 minutes of daylight each day so that breakfast is now in the dark, dinner the sun, if seen is dropping into the horizon. Winter is clearly setting in as also evident in the early morning station opening image - recent persistent snowfalls whitewashing Palmer’s rocky terrain.

The days are also getting shorter figuratively, as UAB in A packs up after ending our months long ocean acidification experiment in preparation for heading north. Our ship, the Laurence M. Gould, has arrived. Regular readers recognize that ships, especially the LMG (seen below), play a key role in our polar life by providing transportation as detailed by Addie and Jami, food as Hannah appetizingly described, and fresh faces and fuel as I explained.

Ice chunks in the foreground, the red hulled ship at snowy Palmer Station.

Now it is time for us to follow in Addie’s footsteps and for us to sail away. After Addie had been home awhile, I asked her to send a brief reflection of her time on ice:

I think my favorite part of getting to work in Antarctica was seeing so many amazing creatures I’d never seen in person and some that I hadn’t even heard of. After being alive for 21 years, I thought I had a pretty good grasp on what nature and the environment had to offer. Seeing all the seals, penguins, and of course the amphipods helped me realize just how much of the world I still have to explore.

Addie’s posts mirrored her written reflection detailing Palmer’s recreational activities and wildlife. She also provided a solid scientific account of how and why she spent most of her mornings determining seawater alkalinity in the ocean acidification experiment. Addie’s dive tending entry blends details about diving, zodiac driving and wildlife.

Addie sitting on trailered zodiac watching Hannah zip into drysuit.

As Jami follows in Addie’s footsteps, no doubt she will do so in style with her flashy feet. Jami wrote about seawater chemistry and station life with equal enthusiasm. Yet, as she explained when I asked for her reflection of her time on ice, it seems time on water is what really resonates:

In my last post, I mentioned my gold star philosophy. Another one of my personal beliefs is that there’s nothing quite like being on the water to soothe the soul. With many, many hours at the tiller of our Zodiac under my belt, I’ve gotten to spend plenty of time in my happy place. I’ve also learned so much and participated in so many unique opportunities during my season here, and I couldn’t have done any of it without the help of the amazing community at Palmer. I’m incredibly grateful to everyone for showing me the ropes and welcoming me into the community. The skills I’ve learned and the little additions to my personal philosophies will no doubt come in handy wherever my next adventures take me.

Composite photo of women in black zodiac, ice chunks in the water, blue sky.

Hannah’s entries focused on her dissertation research and got increasingly experimental from the start. Whether describing the amphipods or their freshies from the sea or why she always had beautiful mornings, most of her entry titles parodied a popular song and every entry ended with a haiku. In addition to the closing haiku, Hannah’s contribution to this final entry is the photo below.

This photo was taken for International Women's Day. All of the women on station gathered to take this photo in front of the famous Palmer Station signpost. I am extremely grateful that I got to spend such a wonderful field season with all of these and later additional amazing women (and not pictured men.)

Group photo of women gathered outside by Palmer’s sign board and glacier in the background.

Chuck set the scene for this season in his first post with hobbit-like flair. It is clear from his entries that Antarctica’s underwater forests are his happy place whether or not at a wow of a dive site or a more pedestrian site like the Palmer dock. The project’s diving effort was frequently negatively impacted by foul weather but always positively assisted with 100% energy and enthusiasm by dive tenders.

A diver swims among algae.

Jim dropped in for cameo virtual appearances with a high-level look at ocean acidification. Later, fittingly for the month of April, Jim’s second post on ocean acidification incorporated Earth Day into a narrative discoursing Antarctic currents, ice sheets, and penguin populations, with a hopeful closing note for the latter.

Finally, in addition to wrapping up our season with this entry, I shared views into the wonders of the many critters encountered while diving through a miniseries with a somewhat borrowed title of All Creatures… featuring isopods and urchins and sponges – oh my! When not underwater, I explored the Palmer’s backyard and hiked the Marr Glacier, but neither as much as I’d have liked to. One Sunday morning hike was especially enjoyable as with friends I explored an area not accessible until recently. What a glorious view of Mt. Francais and the Antarctic Peninsula in the background.

Panoramic view of snow and ice covered mountains.

But the time has come to wrap up this wrap up. Time to pack personal gear and board a ship that will soon be going north. Although this website will no longer be updated the questions/comments button in the upper margin will remain active indefinitely. Hope to hear from you!

Group photo of team in UAB garb.

As promised, Hannah’s final haiku.

A haiku for your consideration:

April has arrived

And with it, the LMG

To take us back home