Barilari: A flight over the west coastJanuary 22, 2010
The LARISSA glaciology team flew again today. This time Martin Truffer and I looked at the possibility of a flight up over the ridge of the Peninsula to our target sites on the east side. Bad weather (clouds, and blowing snow at low levels) has hampered our attempts to get to any of the regions near the Larsen B embayment.
The Palmer has moved south, to a fjord called Barilari Bay, just across from the Site Beta ice core drilling location, which the LARISSA glaciology team surveyed in December. This is a very scenic area, even prettier to my eye because the bay is smaller and ringed by glaciers that flow down right into the water. It is clear that this area had a small ice shelf itself at some time in the fairly recent past, perhaps a few centuries ago. Our marine geology group will look into that possibility while we wait for good weather.
By the way, free bar of chocolate to the first one at NSIDC or in the reading public that can tell us all the correct pronunciation of Barilari. Right now, most of us are going with an Aussie inflection, rhyming with “Hillary,” but we also have a “Barry-Larry” dialect, and a rather odd quasi-euro version, “ba-rEE la-REE.”
We took off at 9:48 this morning, and headed north to peer into the glacier troughs for some kind of path with thinner clouds overhead and less mist and blowing snow below. En route, our pilot (Barry James) wisely steered around a magnificent spire of rock looming like our own Matterhorn over the bay.
“It doesn’t look at all like the Matterhorn,” mutters Martin Truffer. And with his Swiss accent, who can argue with him?
We climbed the most promising trough in the ice, but as the ice rose towards the Antarctic Peninsula ridge-crest, the fog and clouds seemed to meet — no go for the east side today. We turned to go back to the Palmer, and as we approached we had an excellent view of this ice-rimmed bay, and a look at just how tiny our floating village (the Palmer) is at the Antarctic scale.
Erin and Terry were there to greet us after our thirty-minute flight. Spirits are still high, and we expect a better break on the weather tomorrow.