This week at the station

This week at Mawson: 20 September 2013

Awesome Mawson auroras

Mawson is an awesome place to see auroras throughout the winter. Pick any clear night and there will be some auroral activity. Justin our chef has been particularly focused on getting that perfect photo and has spent many cold hours outside on those cold winter nights huddled over his camera, hands almost frost bitten, cheeks freezing, cold batteries warming against his skin to get just one more shot out of them.

Enjoy the following selection of the results of his determination and effort.

The aurora makes a bright green arc in the night sky over the station.
Aurora
(Photo: Justin Chambers)
The aurora is huge a green splotch in starry night sky.
Aurora
(Photo: Justin Chambers)
The aurora is a double streak of bright green.
Aurora
(Photo: Justin Chambers)
The white Mawson turbine against the white snow and green sky
Auroras
(Photo: Justin Chambers)
Purple and green shafts of light against the night sky.
Auroras
(Photo: Justin Chambers)
Square silver shed surrounded by green aurora lights.
Auroras
(Photo: Justin Chambers)
Square silver shed surrounded by green aurora lights.
Auroras
(Photo: Justin Chambers)
The ligths are blazing on the stations and the aurora in the sky behind.
Auroras
(Photo: Justin Chambers)

The emperors of Auster

The chicks are growing

It was 1.30 Wednesday afternoon before Peter Layt, Peter Cubit, Chris and myself (Rowdy) finally left station for Macey.

The original plan was to spend Saturday night there and a few hours on Sat and Sun checking out the chicks at Auster. Of course the weather changed those plans and the next fine day we had was Wednesday.

We took a slow drive to Macey checking out some interesting looking icebergs along the way.

We decided to just go straight to the hut as it was getting late and we wouldn’t have much light at the rookery.

After a brilliant sunset we sat down to a dinner of lamb stew and listened to the wind pick up. We hoped it would ease up by morning and our wishes were granted.

Woohoo! Clear skies and no wind… it doesn’t get much better than this. I didn’t even bother putting on my coat, the weather was so good. It’s not often like this at Mawson, so we were very lucky.

What’s even better was how incredibly gorgeous those emperor penguin chicks are. Little balls of fluff, stumbling round after their parent or making friends with other chicks. I was surprised by how much they had grown in the few weeks since I’d last been out here. There were a few we saw still keeping warm on their parent’s feet but it was obvious that some were getting a bit big to get fully covered by the brood pouch. Some of the chicks look like they’re already starting to crèche. Forming small groups where there seemed to be more chicks then parents.

It’s surprising how time flies when you’re having so much fun. Before you know it nearly four hours had gone by and it was time to head back to station.

So long little chicks, I hope I get back to see you guys before you all grow up and head out to sea.

Emperor penguin and chick
Awwwwww
(Photo: Cliff Simpson Davis)
Chicks starting to huddle together in little groups
Chicks starting to huddle together in little groups
(Photo: Cliff Simpson Davis)
A dirty berg has dark sripes among the bright blue of the berg.
Dirty berg seen on the way to Macey
(Photo: Cliff Simpson Davis)
Auster rookery - a huge group of penguins below an enormous ice berg.
The first photo taken when I got out of the Hagg
(Photo: Cliff Simpson Davis)
Fluffy emperor chick stomping across the ice.
Get outta my way
(Photo: Peter Cubit)
Emperor penguin on its own
Its getting a bit cramped in here
(Photo: Cliff Simpson Davis)
Emperor chick reaches up to adult with its beak open.
I am not interested in making friends, feed me
(Photo: Cliff Simpson Davis)
Emperor Chick peeks out from between its parent's legs.
Not quite ready to go out and play
(Photo: Cliff Simpson Davis)
Expeditioners leaping in the air at Auster
The picture says it all ... a perfect day
(Photo: Peter Layt)
Emperor chicks outumber adults birds
Seemed to be more chicks than adults at times
(Photo: Cliff Simpson Davis)
These two wandered a fair way from the colony
These two wandered a fair way from the colony
(Photo: Cliff Simpson Davis)
Emperor Chicks en masse with glorious ice scape
What can you say but 'gorgeous'.
(Photo: Cliff Simpson Davis)

All steamed UP

2 September: It was a beautiful day today, -30 degrees but not much wind. Thus ideal for water throwing. This is always an interesting spectacle.

A cup of boiling hot water thrown into very cold air will almost instantly freeze in midair and create a shower of tiny ice crystals. There are several reasons behind this phenomenon. First, the near-boiling water is already close to becoming steam when it is thrown into the air, which means that the water molecules are much closer to evaporating into the vapor state than they would be if the water were cold.

Second, the act of throwing the water into the air causes it to break up into tiny droplets. The water that was contained in the cup (which originally had a relatively small surface exposed to the air) now experiences a tremendous increase in the total surface area exposed to the air. This situation helps to speed up the evaporation process (evaporation is the process of turning from a liquid to a vapor).

Finally, very cold air typically has a low humidity level (that is, a low amount of water vapor present). This is yet another factor aiding the transition from liquid water, to water vapor, to ice crystals. At sufficiently low temperatures, this process seems to occur almost instantaneously.

PS: Watch our doctor walking around in shorts and T-shirts at a wind chill of -46 degrees!

Making steam clouds by throwing water in the air.
How clouds are made
(Photo: Luc De Pauw)
Person throwing water in the air from a pot.
The launch
(Photo: Luc De Pauw)
Engulfed in steam cloud so the person is hidden
Engulfed, should have allowed for the wind
(Photo: Luc De Pauw)
Pete making steam clouds and chukcing water in the air
Pete C has a go
(Photo: Luc De Pauw)
Shot of the station witha person throwing water up
Up she goes
(Photo: Luc De Pauw)
Man in shorts and Tshirt outside and taking a photo of the man throwing water in the air
Doc/Slushy, dressed for quick action photography
(Photo: Luc De Pauw)
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