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19 November, 2001

Dr. Steve Alexander, Dr. Sergei Korsun, and I left McMurdo this morning to return to Explorers Cove. Dr. Neal Pollock's flight to New Zealand was delayed until tomorrow. Upon our return to New Harbor, I noticed that the ice near the transition zone had begun to melt. I could now see evidence of the "salt water" marsh. On a walk around the cove, observations were made for potential sites to collect hydrology (water) measurements. The beauty of Antarctica never fails to surprise. Looking beyond the transition zone (where land meets the sea), Mt. Erebus, the southern-most active volcano, looked like a picture from a National Geographic magazine. It's hard to capture the beauty (or maybe the way I feel) when I see Mt. Erebus. As I walked along the coastline, an Adelie penguin sat "preening" itself on the ice-covered pond. It didn't seem upset or fazed by my presence. It must have felt protected by the "ice wall" at the transition zone, which separated the penguin from me. As I stood quietly by and observed the penguin against the backdrop of ice and snow-covered mountains, I felt the presence of Antarctica. Whether friend or foe, Antarctica definitely has a personality.

As I walked around the moat area, I could see evidence of pingos. Pingos form when sediment and ice are pushed up by the frozen water beneath. As the ice below melts, the "frozen mounds" create a depression which fill with water. Looking at the melting ice to see the existence of a "marsh" beneath made me wonder what organisms were in this cold water. What could possibly exist here? What water conditions control life in this extreme environment? It also makes me wonder if organisms living in Antarctica can be found in waterways back home. Science is exciting because it not only encourages questions, but it can also lead to investigations in order to find the answers.

When I returned to the Jamesway, I began to prepare the science equipment for the hydrology study. Dr. Korsun spent some time with me discussing different types of forams. He has spent 15 years living in the Arctic studying forams. He discussed different types of forams and showed me pictures from his web page on this Arctic study of forams.

A Bell 212 helicopter brought me back to Explorers Cove after spending a couple of days in McMurdo.

The icicles are quite beautiful in the transition zone at Explorers Cove.

Mt. Erebus, the southern-most active volcano, is a welcome sight at my field camp each day.

The "marsh" or moat area around our field camp is beginning to show extensive melting with each passing day. The temperature has varied, but when the wind doesn't blow, it is quite nice. We have had a couple of high temperatures around 30 degrees Fahrenheit.

Another view of the "marsh" area

It was a surprise to see the Adelie penguin just beyond the transition zone.

The ground around my field camp has patches of this beautiful ice. There are no flowers here, but the ice "growing" from the ground does quite well!

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