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As USF scientists prepare to leave Antarctica, the hard cold arrives

Baby, it's cold outside

We're at our last stop, Joinville Island, and it feels like winter- Antarctic style.

Even though we are at the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, which is our northernmost point beginning our science ops, it is far colder here than anywhere else we've been.

The wind is coming out of the south off the ice. And the local ocean current is bringing cold water and big icebergs up from the coast of the Weddell Sea to the east of us. The combination has given us temperatures of minus-4 Fahrenheit and a wind chill of minus-40.

The ocean is at freezing temperature (28 degrees) and, particularly at night, ice has been forming right before our eyes. New, rapidly forming ice often forms little extrusions known as "frost flowers" that will coat the sea surface in meadows. We've seen penguins running across newly formed sea ice.

Along with the cold water, the Antarctic coastal current has brought us silverfish from the Weddell Sea, where they are still plentiful. Our silverfish team will be able to compare them with the fish we captured at Charcot Island and Marguerite Bay to see how closely related they are.

Our investigation is near an end. We will be departing within 24 hours to once more brave the waters of the Drake Passage.

I will try to get one more report to you before we leave the ship. We're also bringing home a video report. Limited bandwidth prevents us from sending it along until we get back to the States. Look for it in a couple weeks on tampabay.com

In the meantime, it has been a pleasure to bring you along with us.

As USF scientists prepare to leave Antarctica, the hard cold arrives 04/29/10 [Last modified: Thursday, April 29, 2010 1:36pm]
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