Dry Valleys and Fata Morgana


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March 11th 2005
Published: March 11th 2005
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Here are some more photos I took from a helicopter while flying through Taylor and Wright Valleys last month. Both valleys are part of the McMurdo Dry Valleys, one of the largest snow-free areas in Antarctica and an area of intense scientific interest and investigation. All these photos were taken through the plastic windshield of the helicopter, so they are not the best quality.

Also included are three photos of the Fata Morgana mirage that has been appearing almost daily across the Sound towards Mt. Discovery and the Royal Society Range.



Additional photos below
Photos: 17, Displayed: 17


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Polar StarPolar Star
Polar Star

USCG Polar Class Icebreaker the Polar Star
Edge of the Ross Ice ShelfEdge of the Ross Ice Shelf
Edge of the Ross Ice Shelf

The rock covered ice is the Ross Ice Shelf. The rock free snow on the right hand side is the sea ice. Due to the large icebergs north of here, it has been several years since the sea ice left here. The Dailey Islands are also visible.
The Royal Society RangeThe Royal Society Range
The Royal Society Range

One of the peaks in the Royal Society Range is Mt. Lister, named after the Canadian who invented Listerine.
Royal Society Range foothillsRoyal Society Range foothills
Royal Society Range foothills

Another view of the northern foothills of the Royal Society Range with the Ferrar Glacier in the foreground.
Lake BonneyLake Bonney
Lake Bonney

This is Lake Bonney in Taylor Valley. There is a US field camp here in the summer on the left hand shoreline.
Hughes Glacier in Taylor ValleyHughes Glacier in Taylor Valley
Hughes Glacier in Taylor Valley

This is just one of many glaciers flowing down the sides of the Dry Valleys. It is located just above Lake Bonney on the south side, so I think it is Hughes Glacier.
Olympus Range above Wright ValleyOlympus Range above Wright Valley
Olympus Range above Wright Valley

Wright Valley is the valley north of Taylor Valley and the Olympic Range are on the north side of the valley.
Colorful CliffColorful Cliff
Colorful Cliff

We flew close by this cliff as we traveresed from Taylor Valley to Wright Valley
Airdevronsix Ice Fall in Upper Wright ValleyAirdevronsix Ice Fall in Upper Wright Valley
Airdevronsix Ice Fall in Upper Wright Valley

This is the left hand side of the ice fall. Wright Uppper Glacier is in the foreground. It was one of the more beautiful places on the planet that I have been able to visit.
Airdevronsix Ice Fall in Upper Wright ValleyAirdevronsix Ice Fall in Upper Wright Valley
Airdevronsix Ice Fall in Upper Wright Valley

Right hand side of the ice fall. Since the helo was moving between photos, the two ice fall photos cannot be stitched together to form a panorama.
Lake Vanda in Wright ValleyLake Vanda in Wright Valley
Lake Vanda in Wright Valley

Lake Vanda is upstream from Don Juan Pond. A US field camp is visible.
Don Juan PondDon Juan Pond
Don Juan Pond

Don Juan Pond does not have an outlet and as a result has all sorts of unique characteristics that beekers like to study. ("Beeker" is USAP slang for scientist.)
Onyx RiverOnyx River
Onyx River

The headwaters of the Onyx River are near the ocean and the river flows away from the ocean. This rather unusual behavior is a result of how the Dry Valleys were formed. At one time the Ross Ice shelf was thousands of feet thicker than it is today and the ice flowed off from it towards the Polar Plateau, carving the Dry Valleys. Now that Ice Shelf has decreased in size, the ice has retreated from the valleys and the Polar Plateau is higher than the valleys and the current ice shelf (now at sea level). The glaciers now spill off the Polar Plateau in the opposite direction from which the valleys were formed.
Castle Rock Castle Rock
Castle Rock

Castle Rock is in the foreground on Hut Point Peninusla which we flew over on our flight home. McMurdo Station is three miles away, but out of view below and to the left of Castle Rock. Mt. Discovery is in the background.
Fata MorganaFata Morgana
Fata Morgana

The Fata Morgan mirage looking towards Mena Bluffs. The row of dots across the sea ice in the foreground mark a road going to Pegasus Airfield.
More Fata Morgana More Fata Morgana
More Fata Morgana

This time looking towards the Royal Society Range. The mirage exaggerates the vertical scale so the "black cliffs" are actually virtually flat snow-free areas.


25th May 2005

Dry Valley photographs
Hello out there! I loved your photographs of the dry valleys and especially the Onyx river...I have several books on Antarctica, but can't find a whole lot (especially photos) of the dry valley regions, though I hear there will be a book out soon. I'm a writer in N.C setting a novel in the dry valley areas. Thanks for taking the time to post such wonderful photographs! - Mel

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