Published: March 17th 2011March 10th 2011
icebreaker early jan 2011
this is the carpet of ice that has been here 11 years, in just over a month it would all be gone!
Antarctica is covered by Ice, so much of it that the entire continent has been pushed hundreds if not thousands of feet down into the Earths crust by the sheer wieght. Its over 3 miles thick in places- pretty amazing really. In the winter the entire landmass is surrounded by a ring of ice that can go out over 100 miles or more in places, its the seasonal Sea Ice, which in summer often breaks up and floats away, exposing rocky shorelines and the very few sand beaches. But here at Mcmurdo Station, which actually sits along a 40 mile wide bay (or sound) the ice has been locked in for over 10 years, some of the thicker ice up to 30 years. All many of us have ever seen here is a thick carpet of ice to the horizon- weve built roads and runways on top of it, skied on it and driven to work on it. Its been easy to forget there was an ocean under it!
Over the last 3 weeks of late Feb/March , all of that has changed....a warm summer, big ocean swells, and mother nature have shattered the ice sheet and it has 'Gone Out'
sea ice airfield Dec 2010
this is the view from mcmurdo station ridge -the airfield is built on the decade old sea ice covering the ocean..see next pic..
as they say......For us here its an amazing thing to see, hundreds of square miles of ice cracking into peices and flowing out with the tides, a daily procession of thousands of icebergs headed north into the Southern Ocean-yikes!
For me its truly been one of the most amazing and spectacular things ive ever witnessed - nearly every evening Ive walked out to see and hear the ice splitting off, smell the salt and enjoy the show as the bergs drift by, along with many others here. and as i write it is still going on. With the ice gone we now have beautifull deep blue water, breaking waves and the smell of salt air! The penguins have arrived - now hundreds of them, along with seals and even Orcas! But It wont be long before it all refreezes, maybe for another 10 years? its a special event here along the edge of the Ross Sea, and indeed the edge of the world. For a surfer and water person like me, its was a wonder for my spirits, a great way to start the long winter. enjoy which ever pics you like, I know there are alot of them-sorry!!
a view out to sea
1 march 2011--looking out to where the airfield once was, now open ocean 1200 feet deep!
*On a somber side note- for while this was occuring the devastating Christchurch NZ earthquake occured, a very personal event for many of us here, including myself, given our ties to this wonderfull city and its people. Additionaly, the Norwegian sailing yacht, the Berzerk, moored near Mcmurdo Station, was apparently lost with 3 of her crew during a recent and very intense storm. A distress call was sent ,and searches were launched , but with no success. Seas were over 30 ft, wind chill below 0, and full of icebergs at the time, a direct result of the events above.
2 crewmembers were ashore here at the time, and were flown to NZ last week.
There are more photos below