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Returning to Port

STRAITS OF MAGELLAN– Today we are arriving in Punta Arenas, Chile at 11am local time. After 8 hours through the Straits of Magellan we have finally finished our 30 day cruise.

During the last few days we have taken the time to share results and evaluate our performance. The consensus is very positive: there is satisfaction from all parties for the work accomplished.

The scientists studying icebergs in this project are truly an interdisciplinary group. We look at iceberg physical properties, how they affect the physics and chemistry of the surrounding ocean water, and the consequences of those changes on the biota, microbes, phytoplankton, zooplankton, fishes and birds.

A group photo on the bow.

Carbon is the common denominator (or the currency) used by the different researchers to understand the flow of matter through the different components. Carbon is analyzed as gas (carbon dioxide or CO2), particulate and dissolved, as it moves from the atmosphere to the ocean surface and ultimately to the ocean floor.

During this cruise, instruments were tested and new ideas were generated on how to improve them. Methods of water collection, sampling approaches and data sharing schemes to optimize sampling around icebergs were successfully implemented.

A view of an iceberg off the back deck.

Results on the changes in water temperature and salinity due to iceberg melting were clear cut and shown on a scale useful to all science groups. Biological response was somewhat depressed, as expected at this time of the year when short days and low phytoplankton biomass cannot maintain rich marine communities.

We will be ready by next March 2009 to participate on a cruise to estimate the extent of iron enrichment by icebergs in iron-limited waters of the Southern Ocean.

We thank Raytheon Polar services and the crew from ECO (Edison Chouest Offshore) for excellent support during the cruise, in particular Captain Mike Watson and Marine Projects Coordinator Adam Jenkins. And special thanks to Ken Smith from the Monterey Aquarium Research Institute who organized the science (and the scientists) with great skill and dedication.

View of Punta Arenas as we return to port.
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