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9 January, 2003

DV's in the DV's

Yesterday our team finally was completed. Daryl Morehead, a PI (principal investigator) from the University of Toledo arrived. He is joining us this year because Diane McKnight could not travel to the Ice. So now there are seven of us.

We hustled around this morning cleaning F6 and getting our little home shipshape because at 9:00 AM some "DVs" (Distinguished Visitors) were arriving by helicopter in the DV's (Dry Valleys). Right on time, the helo landed, and we introduced ourselves to Scott Borg, National Science Foundation Program Director of Geological Science, Kathy Olson, Associate Director of White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, John Turner, Department of State Oceans and Environmental Sciences Policy Issues, and Tom Weimer, Deputy Assistant Director of Interior Water and Science. They were all very interested in the work that we are doing, so we took them on a tour of the gage on Von Guerard Stream which runs by our campsite. Each person was able to explain their part of the work we are doing on the streams, and I was able to tell them about the TEA program that has brought me here. Pete explained why he is representing the USGS (US Geological Survey). The USGS has established certain methods and protocols for measuring data in the environment and reporting results. Since our work in Antarctica is a US science program, the USGS is here to be sure those protocols are followed, allowing consistent reporting of data from all US programs.

Delta Stream

After our visitors left, we packed our gear and took the ATV down to lower Delta Stream where we surveyed the transect and took our algae and water samples. This is an interesting stream because it has a huge wetted, or hyporheic, zone. The stream bed is wide with an intricately braided channel, and there are seep zones where water actually flows up out of the hyporheic zone and then into the stream bed. Last year there were a lot of green algae in this stream, but we found none. We think there may have been some dead green algae, but we aren't sure. We found both orange and black algae, but it was rather sparse.

We are getting faster at our jobs. I am no longer the "rodman." Jenny is doing that job, and I am doing the surveying. She is still the fastest pebble counter in the south, but I now am the fastest at setting up "Theo" or surveying instrument. It usually takes me about ten minutes, but I did it once in six and a half. I'm trying to beat that record! Erin is taking the algae and water samples, and doing the temperature and conductivity readings. We have slipped into a comfortable routine.

In McMurdo there are a lot of "ops", short for operations. There is MacOps, Helo Ops and so on. One night Karen and I got silly and started saying we were doing "Night Ops" and "Special Ops" and "Photo Ops." Then I suggested that our part of the Steam Team was "Algae Ops," and that has now stuck. When we use the radios we say, "Stream Team, this is Algae Ops. Do you have your ears on? Over." We also all have radio nicknames using our first and last initials making foods. Karen is Krispy Kreme, Jen is Jellybean, Pete is Pepperoni Stick, Daryl is Dinty Moore, and I have been called "Lemon Head." (LH is pretty hard to come up with a cute food name‚?"any ideas?) John Gartner, too. We call him "Jimmy G".

It is getting more and more difficult to travel by ATV. The moats are getting so wide, there are few places to walk across to get out into the middle where the ice is thick and safe. I was on some today that began cracking under me and scared me to death. Jen and Pete both went in up to their knees today‚?"not scary but definitely uncomfortable. Luckily it was very warm today. As a matter of fact, it was so warm that at one point John was working without a shirt!

You may remember that our information told us that the Dry Valleys have not had precipitation in millions of years. We are not sure where that information came from because we have seen snow on several occasions. There's not a lot, and there certainly hasn't been any accumulation. To be more accurate we need to say "very little" precipitation falls here.

I saw an amazing petrified seal today. Its whole lower jaw was gone, but its tongue was still in its mouth, and you could even see the bumps on its surface! The dryness here preserves the poor animals that stumble into the Dry Valleys. It seems that they must get disoriented and unable to find their way out again.

Tonight was a lot of fun. Pete and I cooked a huge dinner, and we invited the lake coring team to F6 to enjoy it with us. Pete whipped up a delicious lasagna, and I cooked pork tenderloin with my husband, Terry's, famous bar-b-que sauce. (It was a hit, honey!) Mary Ann and I worked on our journals for TEA together while everyone else visited. There are nine of them and seven of us, so we had a house full! There weren't quite enough plates and forks, but somehow we all managed.


1. Jen explains the work of "Algae Ops" to our

distinguished visitors. From the left: Daryl Morehead, John Turner, Scott Borg, Jen Baeseman, John Gartner, Kathy Olson, Pete Spatz and Tom Weimer.

2. Algae Ops on the move in the ATV. Jen, Erin,

Louise, and Pete

3. Seal skeleton with the tongue preserved.

4. John working on the ice without a shirt. Yes, I

really am in Antarctica!

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