Abrupt Climate Change - Ice cores from Patagonia

NOAA This project is supported by a grant from NOAA, Office of Global Programs

Paul Mayewski, Andrei Kurbatov, Dan Dixon,
Erich Osterberg, UMaine
Charlie Porter, Patagonia Research Foundation and UMaine

Mike Ellis and Scott Mason, Stonehaven Productions, Canada
February 20, 2005 to March 22, 2005
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Dan with sign in P. Williams
Leaving Puerto Williams
Ocean Tramp
leaving Puerto Williams
Beagle Channel
Beagle Channel view
Boats in Beagle Channel
View in the Beagle Channel
Glacier from the Beagle Channel
Another View of in the Beagle Channel
View from the bow of the Ocean Tramp
Mountains near the channel
Ocean Tramp

Route and site map
Date: Wednesday, March 2, 2005
Time: 11:00 pm
Location: S 54.77307 W 69.67661
Temperature: 13°C
Wind speed: 5 mph 4.4 knots
Wind chill:
Altitude: 2 m
Weather: Mostly sunny

Yesterday (Tuesday) was a rare day indeed, warm sun, cloudless sky, no wind, and the sea was virtually flat. The scenery we sailed past was absolutely breathtaking; no matter which way I looked, my eyes were greeted by ever more-beautiful landscape views. The only sound when sitting on the bow of the boat was the gentle lapping of the water as Ocean Tramp sliced gracefully through. Large glaciers flowing slowly towards the sea punctuate the snow-capped mountains; each bay reveals a stunning new ramp of heavily crevassed white snow and blue ice. Every now and then, a perfectly white plateau of snow appears in the distance and looms for a while as if watching over these enormous mountains of rock and ice. While sailing down the Beagle Channel we spotted several groups of small penguins and lots of sea birds. By 6 pm we had made it to our fjord through scenes of ever-increasing beauty. As we moored the boat a pair of large condors circled overhead, gliding effortlessly on invisible updrafts.

The fjord anchorage that Charlie chose was perfect; steep-sided valley walls, perhaps 300-400 m high, with a waterfall that spills over the top of the cliff and winds its way down to within 20 m of our boat.

Charlie, Paul, Mike, and Scott took off in a Zodiac to check on the condition of our proposed route up the glacier. As it turned out, things had changed quite a bit from previous reports. The ice edge had moved and cut off our planned route to the top of the glacier. After dinner, we had a meeting to decide what our next plan of action should be; Charlie and Paul will do some more reconnaissance tomorrow to see if they can find an alternative route. Hopefully the weather will stay fine enough for the rest of us to do a little exploring also.

Today (Wednesday) started off rather cold and overcast, thankfully, it developed into yet another spectacular day. Paul, Charlie, Mike, and Scott went out in the Zodiac again to do more reconnaissance. They headed to the next-door fjord to check for back routes to our intended drilling spot. Andrei and Erich went out for an exploratory hike while Juan and I did a little boat maintenance; repairing the “Ocean Tramp” sign on the port side bow of the boat. After a little bite of lunch, Martin, Klara, and I went out for a little hike of our own. The landscape around here seems virtually untouched, I almost felt guilty for treading upon such virgin soil. There are many small songbirds fluttering about, and lots of insects too. There are small bushes bearing delicious little pink berries all over the place. The berries taste sweet, but also a little tart, across between a cranberry and a blueberry. There are lots of dolphins in our fjord, they like to come and play close to the boat. The reconnaissance team returned with some good and bad news; there is another way up to our planned site, but it will probably be too difficult with all the gear that we have. It would involve climbing up a steep slope that is heavily wooded and very boggy. However, Paul and Charlie came up with the idea of drilling on the Ellis glacier. The advantage of drilling on the Ellis glacier is that the approach should be relatively easy compared to our originally planned route. All we can hope for now is good weather and easy travel.

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Ocean Tramp in the fjord  The fjord   Birds in the Fjord  Dolphins in the fjord

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