The end is drawing near

April 14, 2009

Sea temperature: ? °C
Air temperature: 8.5°C

Last night we set the clocks back by one hour to match the fall time change that occurred in Chile while we were away. It was another reminder of the opposite seasons here in the southern hemisphere. While we’ve been gone, our friends and families in the northern hemisphere are now in spring and have set their clocks forward one hour for daylight savings time. When we left, the time difference between Chile and California was five hours. Now, the time difference is only three hours.

This map shows the ship's track during the 40-day expedition in the Weddell Sea. Credit: RVIB Nathaniel B. Palmer.

This map shows the ship’s track during the 40-day expedition in the Weddell Sea. Credit: RVIB Nathaniel B. Palmer.

The day was full with end-of-trip activities and packing as we prepared to reach Punta Arenas by late evening. We had our last fire drill and completed customs and immigration forms for our re-entry into Chile. The ship’s engineers offered a tour of the engine room and many of the science staff took advantage of the opportunity to see this area. By mid-afternoon the required local pilot had boarded the Palmer to guide us through the Straits of Magellan to the dock.

We also had our final science meeting. Each science team summarized preliminary results from the expedition using plots and graphs. Their data showed differences between the three main study sites—iceberg C-18A, a control site, and iceberg alley—but the details are still in progress. Many of the groups have samples that will be processed and analyzed when they return to their home labs. Collaborations will continue as groups interpret results and generate scientific papers to publish. The meeting also revealed many new questions that researchers are discussing for future studies.

—Debbie Nail Meyer