During the summer, we’ve gotten used to seeing lots of seals lounging near cracks on top the sea ice in front of the base. At times, keen observers have counted well over a hundred, but in the last few days they have been a scarcer and scarcer sight. So the question occupying the best minds on base (and ours) is “where have all the seals gone?”. With no seal experts on base, we’ve had to resort to wild speculation, which has included that perhaps there is an abundance of fish under the ice, or perhaps the cracks are freezing over. Or maybe we just need to clean the windows on base.
Whatever the answer, the mysterious disappearance of the seals is probably another indicator that winter is advancing, as our oceanographic data are beginning to show. We’ve begun posting recent data on our sea ice group webpage at the University of Otago. With the measurements we made yesterday, we now have temperature and salinity profiles spanning 3 weeks, which show that the summertime warm, fresh surface layer surface is becoming cooler and saltier. This means that hopefully the multiyear sea ice will soon stop melting underneath and begin thickening so we can safely put our camp on the ice. The photo (taken by Nigel Tippet) shows a typical abundance of seals near the base.
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Tuesday, 10 March 2009 09:58
Where have all the seals gone?Written by McMurdo Sound Winter Sea Ice
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