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April 1st, 2014 - College Station, Texas

Welcome Aboard!

An Aggie Welcome from College Station by Andrew Klein

Andrew's head

Welcome to B-518's second Island to Ice blog for the 2013-2014 austral summer field season. Two of the B-518 team, Steve Sweet and I find ourselves heading to Palmer Station, Antarctica, on April 4th. This will be the first time B-518 has worked at Palmer Station although Steve Sweet, Chuck Kennicutt and many others from the Geochemical and Environmental Research Group at Texas A&M worked at Palmer in the late 1980s and early 1990s in response to a fuel spill that occurred when the Argentine Polar Transporter Bahia Paraiso ran aground just off of the station. This incident is what got Texas A&M started in the Antarctica environmental monitoring business.

There is a great webcam at Palmer Station so you can see the current conditions.

I have recorded a short video using Google Earth that shows how we are going get to Palmer Station and some of the other locations we may head to as we sail on the Gould.

Steve and I are going on a lengthy reconassiance trip to figure out how to best implement a successful monitoring program at Palmer Station so that next field season when more B-518 team members deploy, our fieldwork will go smoothly. Part of the reason we are going is that the USAP divers - Rob Robbins and Steve Rupp - with whom we have worked for many years at McMurdo Station will be at Palmer so they can help collect some of our samples.

Compared to McMurdo Station, Palmer is much smaller housing about 40 people at its maximum population. It is located on Anvers Island off of the western coast of the Antarctic Pennisula. I have told by my friends who have been there before that it is much more beautiful than McMurdo! I can't wait to see the station and the wildlife in the area. Hopefully we will get to cruise around and visit some sites using zodiacs.

Antarctica is heading into winter so this will be a new experience for me; I will experience my first Antarctica sunset and sunrise as the sun never sets during our McMurdo field season. Despite it being towards the end of the season at Palmer, the station is at maximum capacityso Steve and I will remain aboard the Laurence M. Gould when it goes out from Palmer on short science cruises. This will be an interesting experience for a geographer! Steve, however, is a seasoned oceanographer with plenty of experience on the ship. My greatest fear is sea sickness. The divers do not like crossing the Drake Passage on the way from Punta Arenas, Chile where we will board the Gould.

As Steve and I begin this Antarctic adventure you can follow us as we head "to the ice." That is Antarctic jargon meaning that we will be going to Antarctica. When we are in port and conducting research we will be updating this blog which will not be possible when we are out at sea on the Gould.

We will also be posting to our new IslandtoIce facebook page https://www.facebook.com/IslandtoIce so please visit us there where you can post questions and comments.

While only Steve and I are deploying to Palmer Station, our research would not be possible with many other individuals at both campuses who work hard on the program all year round. You can visit our entire team at our Participants Page. I would especially want to thank Paul Montanga, Terry Wade and Jose Sericano for their support as we strive to expand our monitoring efforts across the continent.

Those following our blog this year, as well as those who have followed it in previous seasons, will learn that science is impossible without the support of hundreds of individuals both within the Division of Polar Programs at the National Science Foundation and those working for the Antarctic Support Contract. While some of the individuals who work most closely with our project will be mentioned often in our journal this season, our research would not be possible without the efforts of many more.

I would like to take this opportunity to name just a few of the many who have helped us over the years. First, I wish to personally thank Polly Penhale who has supported our research for many years. Second I wish to thank Maggie Knuth has helped support our work at CRREL and at now NSF.

Work in Antarctica requires a huge amount of logistical support. As our season progresses, I will take time to highlight the contributions made to our work by various support personnel, but right now I would just like to take time to mention Judy Shiple and Jamee Johnson who for helped in the planning efforts for this somewhat last minute deployment. Jamee will be coming south and will be working aboard the Gould.

Finally, I want to give special thanks to Mahlon "Chuck" Kennicutt who got this project off the ground and guided it for more then a decade. I hope that retirement is treating you well. I think we all strive to be the Antarctic scientist that you are hope that maybe someday a geographic feature will named after us too.

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