Saturday, November 20, 2010

Perception and perspectives on sediment

I mentioned earlier that perception is difficult here. For example, icebergs and mountains can look like they are nearby, but are really many miles away. There just aren't enough visual cues to judge distance accurately (at least for this New Yorker's eye).

Mt. Coleman seems to be a stone's throw away when viewed through the kitchen window.

The mountain seems much farther away when camp is viewed from atop a nearby ridge.

The mind often encounters difficulties when dealing with unfamiliar spatial and temporal scales. With respect to our research, I simply can't imagine how many tons of sediment are deposited on the ice each year at Explorers Cove, and how much of it gets dumped onto the sea floor. Measuring this process and determining its impact on life in the Cove are major goals of the project.

Explorers Cove shoreline, seen from a helicopter. Sand from the Taylor Valley is blown by katabatic winds onto the sea ice, forming large sand dunes along tide cracks and other surface irregularities.

The tide crack behind me is layered with sediment from different storms over the past 10 years; a dune of coarse sand and pebbles rests against its (and my) base.

As Earth continues to warm during this interglacial period, more and more land will be exposed on the southernmost continent. In a real sense, what we see today at Explorers Cove is a peek into Antarctica's near future.

1 comment:

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