I decided last night to join the 4:30am Neuston net team and the 5:00am Conductivity-Temperature-Depth rosetta deployment. These are gangly-looking devices the size of a go-kart and a Madrid street recycling bin, respectively.
My sea legs weren’t that great yesterday. I wobbled a lot and hit the wall sometimes while walking down corridors. My stomach, luckily, is doing much better–no problems at all and I sleep like a brick. Continue reading
It’s early June in the Austrian Alps. Tourists in shorts sweat their way up a trail from the cable car above Lake Hallstatt. But the summer heat doesn’t stop a group of scientists from pulling on brightly colored jumpsuits over their hiking clothes at the entrance to Mammuthohle, one of the many limestone caves that riddle the Dachstein Massif. Lukas Plan, a geophysicist at the University of Vienna, straps on his headlamp and pauses to warn the crowd of researchers about the cave they are about to enter. It won’t just be chilly inside, he cautions; it will be an Alpine meat locker.
The crowd, part of the fourth international ice cave workshop organized by a network of European geophysicists and glaciologists, is gathered to visit the cave’s year-round ice formations.
Plan turns toward the tunnel in the mountainside and opens the metal door. A rush of wind bursts out. The group prepares to enter, hoping to read the history of the region’s climate in the cave’s ice.
The snow under my tentatively placed left boot gave way and I scampered back onto my perch. I leaned heavily on my ice axe with one hand and cheerlessly on the snow with my other hand. I pawed the snowy slope like a misguided rhinoceros charging up the wrong mountain. When I hazarded a look at my leg, I noted a dismaying gap between its boot and crampon. Continue reading
The propeller-driven six-seater churns straight toward the brown plume over Eyjafjallajökull, unlike other aircraft taking off from Reykjavík airport. Inside, accompanied by a seasoned pilot, sits Björn Oddsson, a graduate student at the University of Iceland, entrusted with an infrared sensor derived from military bombing systems. But the only bombs Oddsson talks about are the lava boulders erupting from the volcano 80 miles away.
As they approach the volcano Oddsson opens the window so that the infrared sensor can function properly. A frigid wind whips in, chilling the cabin to near-Arctic temperatures, but Oddsson doesn’t mind; he is focused on calibrating the temperature scale on the device. The sensor, which looks like a video camera, is still relatively new and he’s eager to get it right. His supervisors expect him to report his findings at a briefing the next afternoon, April 19, the sixth day of the present eruption.