Rothera to Cape DisappointmentFebruary 13, 2016
Ted Scambos writes:
On February 3rd, we departed Rothera on a BAS Twin Otter and flew 250 miles northeast to our field site at Cape Disappointment – a near-perfect vantage point to watch how this region might evolve during this warmer-than-average late summer period. The camp is set near the summit of a small dome of rock and ice (about 2 miles across and 1000 feet elevation) set at the end of a narrow low peninsula jutting out into the Larsen B embayment. To the north is a vast flat frozen ocean where the Larsen B ice shelf used to be – now filled with 4-year-old thick ocean ice and tiny iceberg fragments from the collapsing glaciers that formerly fed a 700-foot-thick ice shelf. To the south we can see the smaller remnant ice shelf filling Scar Inlet – among the northernmost remaining ice shelves on the continent, and poised now to collapse or break apart sometime in the next few austral summers. Perhaps this one.
As I write this, we’ve been here for 6 days now, with weather alternating between intense burning sunshine and blinding windstorms. Both conditions are key parts of setting the stage for a breakout of the frozen ocean or collapse of the ice shelf. During our good weather windows, we set up camp and installed 7 instrument sites — a radar, several stereo camera pairs, seismometers, and a listening device called an ‘infrasound array’.
A view of the frozen ocean surface and the Scar Inlet ice shelf surface in the distance. Blue patches on the ocean ice are meltwater. Tracking the evolution of the several cracks seen in the middle foreground is a key part of our study.
One of our tents at the summit of Cape Disappointment. Looking north, we can see a nearly flooded ocean ice surface and some distant islands.