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by HeatherBroadbent ~ October 23rd, 2014

Once we are in Antarctica we will be looking under the ice for organisms called krill. Krill are small, shrimp-like crustaceans that live in all the oceans. Krill are a very important link in the global food web because they feed on phytoplankton- microscopic, single-celled plants that use carbon dioxide and sunlight to grow. Then the krill are eaten by whales, seals, fish, squid and birds. krill have large daily vertical migrations, where they move up and down through the water column to eat and then to conserve energy and avoid predation. Some krill can live up to 6 years (Antarctic Krill) while others only live 6 to 8 months.
There are 7 different species of krill in Antarctica and I will introduce you to 2 of them. The Antarctic Krill (Euphausia superba) is the largest and most numerous in Antarctica. They swarm in schools and live above 250 meters often hanging out at the surface. The adults average 42 to 65 millimeters in length.
Ice Krill (Euphausia crystallorophias) have very little pigmentation and are clear in coloration. They have very large eyes compared to Antarctic Krill. They are commonly found in areas of pack ice in depths of 300 to 600 meters. The adults average 25 to 35 millimeters in length.
We will be looking for krill under the ice using an ROV (remotely operated vehicle) equipped with cameras. Here is a photo of some krill we collected in an ice hole 2 years ago. Look how big their eyes are!



by StacyKim ~ October 20th, 2014

SIMPLE stands for Sub-Ice Marine and Planetary Analog Ecosystems. That is a mouthful that does not sound very simple, but let’s break it down so we can understand what it means.
“Sub” = under or beneath
“Ice” = the solid phase of H2O, water
“Marine” = having to do with the ocean
“Planetary” = celestial bodies that orbit a star
“Analog” = like, similar, approximation
“Ecosystems” = living organisms that interact with each other
This is the project that the scientists (we can think of them as polar bear analogs in this context) have been working on since they arrived in McMurdo Station, Antarctica.

Europa's "Great Lake" the ultimate exploration goal of the SIMPLE project. From Britney Schmidt.

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Getting Settled In

by MartyHynes ~ October 19th, 2014

As we get to know each other better, more of us are developing nicknames. As you know I (MH) am Cranky Bear. Together with Serious Bear (LB) and Anxious Bear (SK) we have now been in Antarctica a week. What a week, filled with training, unpacking, organizing, more training, equipment preparation and testing and even more training. The weather during this time has been highly variable, from clear and windless to little visibility with high winds and snow, all the while the temperature has been hovering around zero Fahrenheit. The good weather is called “Condition 3″, the moderately bad weather is “Condition 2″, and the very bad weather “Condition 1″. We’ve experienced all 3 since we’ve been here. During the worst of it the wind was gusting to 45 knots with lots of snow and near zero visibility. Storms like this come directly out of the south and are called “herbies” a rough amalgam of the words hurricane and blizzard.

Serious Bear unpacking lab equipment
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If it’s lunchtime here, is it lunchtime there?

by Peggy Malloy ~ October 15th, 2014

As Bear LB mentioned, the trip to McMurdo Station is approximately 18,000km (11,000 miles), and it can take around 24 hours to fly from our home in the north to our new home near McMurdo, Antarctica. For example, if we leave at noon on Thursday, we don’t get to McMurdo until around noon on Saturday. Wait a minute! That’s 2 days; how is that possible? It’s not just the 24 hours of travel that add to our travel, we also have to account for time zones.

crozier chicks

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Antarctic Sea Ice Area Breaks Record … High?

by Ben Saenz ~ October 12th, 2014

Polar Bear BS here.  We polar bears are ice obligates, meaning we require ice in order to live our lives normally.  Because I am dependent on sea ice, I was very excited to hear that last month, the sea ice around Antarctica reached a record high maximum!  The summertime sea ice around my home in the Arctic is decreasing at a rate of 13% every ten years due to warming in the northern hemisphere, but there should be plenty for me when I arrive in Antarctica in three weeks.

Satellite-measured sea ice extent around Antarctica

Satellite-measured sea ice extent around Antarctica. Credit: NASA

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