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12 January, 2000


The weather today was very cold , rainy, snow flurries, and windy! Weather turns on a dime here, that 's for sure.

A cruise ship came in today. Palmer is a favorite stop for Antarctic Peninsula cruise tours. The passengers load into a zodiac and are brought ashore. They are escorted around the station by eager volunteer station tour guides. I had a chance to visit with Dean Pakulski. He showed me some of the instruments he uses in his work as a marine biologists. Actually, I was asking him a question on behalf of a student in Houston, TX who wanted to know what the salinity was of the water here. He said, "Well, let's go measure it!" He showed me how the salinity of the water is taken using a refractometer. It uses the change in the refractive index of water at different salinities to determine how much salt content is in the water in parts per thousand. This instrument looks sort of like a rifle scope. A small amount of seawater is placed on the lens located at the top. The value for salinity is read by looking into the ocular. We got a reading of 35ppt. The top surface of the water is often less saline. He pointed out that the top layer of water is light blue and is called rock flower. It comes from glacier ice as it falls into the ocean and melts.

Dean graciously demonstrated more instruments of his trade. For example, the CTD device. The one he uses is a mini-version of the huge contraption on the Gould. It only has one bottle for water sampling. The conductivity, temperature, depth sensor data is combined to calculate the water column density necessary to describe water mass. He also eagerly showed me the PUV. This is a profiling ultraviolet radiometer. This instrument measures the change in light as it appears in different water depths. Pretty interesting stuff. Earlier in the day Dean showed me a couple of minke whales swimming in the harbor!

I am signed up to gash tonight. Everyone signs up once a week to basically clean the dining room and kitchen. It gives the cooks a well deserved break. Wednesday is my night to gash. I am not sure what the term literally means, around here it means clean with a happy heart! Do you think there's a chance my children will learn to gash when I return home!

Tonight there is a science meeting and Dan Lubin who is a scientist from Scripps Institute of Oceanography will share about the physics of global warming. It should be really interesting. I will report on the meeting tomorrow. I am going out to Humble Island tomorrow with Bill Fraser. It should be great!

Until then...


These two elephant seals were napping on the rocks right outside the lab.

Believe it or not, I am measuring the salinity of the ocean!

Here is a cute little Gentoo penguin that was roaming around the shoreline at Palmer.

Cruise ships often bring tourist to Palmer Station this time of year.

Here is Dan Pakulski with a CTD sampler.

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