Dr Karl's Antarctica Blog
The following is a combination of Karl's Tweets during his current Antarctic trip (Jan/Feb 2012) and extra tidbits that he's been sending through via email. No photos from this trip as yet due to slow internet access. In the meantime, here's a decent gallery from previous travels.
Happy reading, Caroline
January 20 at 6:46am
Heading for Antarctica this morning. Fly to New Zealand, fly to Invercargill, board ship tomorrow. Last time, internet access was slow.
January 21 at 7:49pm
Massive storm in Southern Ocean keeps us locked into Port Duffy. We try a 5-day run direct to Ross Sea tomorrow, hoping to avoid next storm.
In Port Bluff in south New Zealand, waiting for a Huge Storm in the Southern Ocean to pass to the East - with another Huge Storm behind it. We have cancelled plans to push off last night (Sat 21) and visit the sub-Antarctic Islands, and instead, try to get to the Ross Sea between the two Storms.
January 23 at 6:25am
Day 3 (out of 5) of pushing into howling gale, heading for Ross Sea in Antarctica. Access to outside is forbidden, as waves smash over decks.
January 24 at 7:02am
Just covered 560 Nautical Miles, 1100 to Cape Adaire in Ross Sea. Wind dropped to 20-30 knots (40-60 kph), sea swell dropping. Decks opened.
We are about 1.5 days out of Port Bluff in New Zealand, as the Good Ship Orion rocks and rolls in a huge storm while we try to dash to the Ross Sea in Antarctica in a 5-day rush, sneaking in between two huge storms that are heading east in the Roaring Forties and the Furious Fifties. Huge waves are breaking against our 5-th level windows, and practically all the passengers are lying in bed, getting up only to vomit. For some unknown reason, I am one of the half-dozen who do not get seasick. Surprisingly, while the Southern Ocean is incredibly rough, the sky is blue and shining benignly.
January 25 at 6:10am
Day 4 of 5-day crossing to Cape Adare in Antarctica. Wind dropped to 30 knots, just avoided Major Storm, only worry is 100 km of ice pack.
We have crossed 50S (yesterday our NZ midday) into Furious Fifties, and winds have dropped from 50 knots (100 kph) and (thanks to drugs) Alice is no longer seasick. We have covered 500 of the 1500 Nautical Miles to Cape Adare (at the entry to the Ross Sea), but the last 100 Miles will depend on the state of the pack ice, which is currently at 7-10/10 and dropping. 10/10 means that all the sea is covered with pack ice, while 7/10 means that 70% is covered. 70% is just navigable - if there is no fog and we have clear vision. At the moment, the extent of the sea pack ice is about 100 Nautical Miles - and dropping daily. We might be lucky.
January 26 at 7:54am
2 weeks ago in Iceland (66N), the Sun didn't rise until 1130 am. Now, at 63+South, the Sun is still up at 11 pm. But too cloudy for Aurora.
January 27 at 11:45am
Crossed Antarctic Circle, now at 69+S, crunching slowly through 100 km of ice-pack-will take 24 hours to cross. Sunrise 0434, Sunset 2241.
January 27 at 12:06pm
The ship is now steering port and starboard to avoid ice bergs - but every 20 minutes, a little one grinds its way along the ship, bow>stern
January 29 at 6:38am
Made it thru 100 km of Pack Ice. Now at 74.5S, dashing for Ross Island. 30-knot winds. Now in Midnight Sun - Sun never sets, is always up.
January 29 at 4:00pm
At the moment, we are 75S and well and truly inside the land of the Midnight Sun. Yup, the Sun is always up. It never sets. We are heading for Franklin Island in the Ross Sea - and can see it from 60 km away (thanks to the zero water in the air, and zero smog). Saw a buncha of whales, followed closely by a buncha Orcas. Dinner? We intend to come ashore on Franklin Island, if the 30-knot winds allow. The water temp has warmed up from -1.5 to 0, while air temp is -2.
January 29 at 10:52pm
Landed on Franklin Island in Ross Sea in Antarctica - now heading for Ross Island. Midnight Sun. Trying to outrun incoming blizzard.
January 29 at 10:58pm
In Antarctica, thanks to low pollution, and low haze (virtually zero water vapour in air), I could see Mt Erebus from 104 km away.January 31 at 11:56am
Pushed thru interlocking ice packs (worst type) to get to Scott's Hut (Ross Island) at 77.5S. Saw 2 cubic meters of century-old seal blubber
January 31 at 11:57am
Went to Shakleton's hut at Cape Royds on Ross Island in Antarctica. Then had Polar Plunge (swimming cossies, into -1.5C water).
January 31 at 12:32pm
One day's journey out of Ross Sea hearing N before we hit major ice pack. Dunno what westerly wind is doing to ice pack. Not many sat pix.
January 31 at 12:32pm
Polar Plunge @ -1.5C. Worst headache of life (2 min), painful feet (like walking on razor blades) & cold flesh 5 min, then incredible ... ... incredible clarity of mind (1 hour), next strange delayed sensation of cold+shivering (for 10 min) then sleep (swam under midnight sun).
January 31 at 11:06pm
Our ship got to 77.5S, about 720 Nautical Miles from South Pole. Photographed us with Midnight Sun in background. About 6 hours from ice.
January 31 at 11:12pm
Very low population in Antarctica, so very little net bandwidth available, so no pix. Surprisingly, Tweet is moderately robust. Web sucks.
February 1 at 10:17am
Coming back from Antarctica. In fog, just came around huge tongue of ice pack, should hit pack ice at mouth of Ross Sea in a few hours.
February 2 at 2:09am
Leaving Antarctica. Have left Midnight Sun behind, BUT we all saw the Green Flash at sunset! Sea totally glassy in Ice Pack at Ross Sea.
February 3 at 12:21pm
On way out of Antarctica, ship ran into unexpected ice. Fog all around, visibility about 1 km. Icebergs loom unexpectedly out of fog.
February 5 at 7:51pm
Monday nite at 77.5S, Midnight Sun, Wednesday Night Green Flash, Friday Night we saw a Green Aurora. Still heading home from Antarctica.
February 6 at 2:39pm
Steaming away from Antarctica and Macquarie Island. Unfortunately, we arrived there at same time as a Major Cold Front, and could not land.
February 7 at 8:16pm
On way out of Antarctica, steaming half-way between Macquarie and Enderby Islands. Should land on Enderby early tomorrow (Wed 8th) morning.
February 9 at 9:38am
Last day of Antarctic Expedition - can't Zodiac around The Snares (South of South Island of New Zealand) due to 30 knot winds, high seas.
February 10 at 7:55pm
Been driving around Christchurch (NZ). Due to recent earthquakes, roads are "wavy", hundreds of large buildings have been turned to rubble.
This week's episode begins with a Twitter question from Penny 22.
Q: How do you explain when you're walking down the street thinking about someone and they ring you?
Karl thinks that it's basically a coincidence, but you can prove this to yourself by keeping a notebook and collecting some data. Karl once thought that he'd discovered the secret to the Universe in his dreams, so he decided to keep a notebook so he could remember what it was. Download the blogcast to find out just what he wrote down...
Recent studies seem to show evidence that nicotine is a gateway drug to cocaine...
Other topics include: Addiction, Obestiy & Trans fats...Read more in Dr Karl's latest book
Late last week Dr Karl made a mad dash to Florida to see the Space Shuttle Discovery blast off on it's final mission... Time was tight, and while he didn't quite make it to Cape Canaveral, he did see something extraordinary. Here's the email he sent through, with a video (not his) which shows how he viewed the takeoff. This footage was take by a software developer, Neil Monday.
howdy from me after I saw the Space Shuttle punch through the clouds and then explode apart (actually the Solid State Boosters separating) and then continue to climb - and all of this from a distance of 150 miles (!! Sydney to Canberra!). Exclamation marks are due to my drinking in the bar at the Hilton.
Anyhows, I saw it@@@!!!! And fewer people have seen the Space Shuttle from a plane than from the ground (40,000 each time). The drive in my Red Topless Corvette from Orlando to Cocoa Beach was glorious (and scary!) The road in the direction out of Cocoa Beach/Kennedy Space Centre was bumper-t-bumper crawl."
In this weeks episode, Dr Shave gives Dr Karl some tips on ‘Jingle Writing 101'...
Then, it's straight into...
Nuclear weapons, mousetrap chain reactions & Encriching uranium to 90%, easier than 20%.
Forumla 1 & Robot Overlords
How a F1 pit team can do 115.8 seconds of work in just 7 seconds!
In this weeks episode, Dr Karl and Dr Shave chat about a rather unique character...
There's an animal that doesn't get cancer...even dinosaurs got cancer, so just who is this interesting creature? Roll out the red carpet for the amazing Mole Rat!!
Mole Rats are mammals, but they live in an insect-like structured society, they don't drink water, they look bizarre, they're the true all rounder when it comes to weirdness..
Go backstage with the Naked Mole Rat... "...they're so ugly that they're cute, you can't help but fall in love with them."
In this weeks episode, Dr Karl and Dr Shave chat SHC and Brown Fat:
Karl's not convinced that Spontaneous Human Combustion actually exists. Part of the reason is that nobody has been obliging enough to burst into flames before an expert audience of forensic pathologists.
But then one day he read an interesting article in the New Scientist by a Scenes of Crime Officer, John Heymer, that made him wonder...
And the update by John Heymer himself...read here
Nobody really knows, but it does seem that babies, like Shave's daughter (Shavarella) can't spontaneously combust. If babies can't shiver for the first month of their life, then just how do they keep warm?
P.S. If you're thinking that Spontaneous Human Combustion would make a great title for a death metal band, then you're on the money... The Prodigy released an album in 1996 entitle SHC.
In this weeks episode, Dr Karl and Dr Shave discuss and answer the following:
Why do the lenses of your glasses fog up, and not your eyeballs? (Twitter question)
Shave's theory of why people have weird Twitter names. Dr Karl thinks everyone should have Internet ‘trainer wheels' equivalent....make your mistakes before you go online ‘for real'.
Back to the glasses/fog question....
Moving onto water...Shave asks Dr Karl about water ‘clumping' and freezing, and water molecules and...
Imagine if you had six sets of lenses to deal with like Dr Karl?