Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Change In Plans

In 1914, Ernest Shackleton wrote "Pack-ice might be described as a gigantic and interminable jigsaw-puzzle devised by nature. " Shackleton was a great Antarctic explorer. He wanted to be the first to cross the continent of Antarctica, but his expedition ran into unexpectedly icy conditions. He is famous now, not for achieving his goal, but for surviving the loss of his ship and keeping all of his men alive through terrible conditions.

I've been thinking about his story because we're working in the same area that he sailed, and we also have an unusually icy year. But unlike Shackleton, we have helicopters, satellite pictures of the ice, and reliable communication with land. We're also in a much bigger and safer ship!

I took that photo from the bridge of the ship (the bridge is like the cockpit of an airplane). You can see that the ship is entering the ice. We can break through the ice, but we can't go all that quickly. We sent a helicopter to check on the ice ahead of us and determined that it gets thicker further south and we can't get through. So we've done what Shackleton couldn't: we turned around and we'll be exploring the western side of the Antarctic peninsula instead of the eastern side.

In a few weeks, we'll try again to reach our original goal on the eastern side of the peninsula. Until then, we're going to do the best research that we can on the western side. We have a ship full of great scientists and equipment, so you can bet that we're not going to waste our time complaining about what we can't change. We've been working together to plan some cool projects on the ice-free western side. I'll start gathering data tonight and should be able to post some of my results soon.


  1. Wow Ms. T!
    The 6th grade science club is pretty impressed by you - it's crazy that you've had to change course.

    We have a lot of questions for you...we'll write them below:

    Diana asks: When you were walking on the ice was their anyway it could have broken? What would you have done?

    Melissa asks: What animals have you seen so far? What do you eat at sea?

    Kiara asks: Have you started your research yet? If not, have you gotten bored?

    Isabella asks: Do you get along with everyone on board?

    Lewis asks: What are other scientists working on?

    Korayma asks: Have you seen penguins yet? What kinds?

    Thank you - we can't wait to hear from you!

  2. oh, above, that Ms. Blomberg.

    Also I was reading about Palmer recently - is it true he was originally headed to Antarctica looking for seals?

    (Ms. Blomberg)