Saturday, March 29, 2014

White Ocean, Richard Byrd and the Ford Ranges

Birchall Peaks.  Photo © Bruce Luyendyk
Richard E. Byrd first explored Marie Byrd Land (MBL) in West Antarctica in the early part of the Twentieth Century in three expeditions. Byrd’s expeditions were the first to discover regions east of the Ross Ice Shelf visited by Roald Amundsen and Robert Scott. Based from Little America near the Bay of Whales on the eastern front of the Ross Ice Shelf, near where Amundsen had set up his base Framheim, Byrd and his crew first sighted the vast interior of parts of the subcontinent of West Antarctica on exploratory flights in 1929. He named this region Marie Byrd Land after his wife. Many other geographical features of MBL were explored by air and by dog sledge parties over the three Byrd expeditions. Significant geographic features he named after his friends and sponsors. The Ford Ranges recognize Edsel Ford of that famous family, one of the prime financial backers of his expeditions.

White Ocean of Ice is focused on my visits to the western portion of MBL and the Ford Ranges and Edward VII Peninsula during 1989-90, 1990-91 and 1992-93. The geologic expeditions to the Ford Ranges took place eight hundred miles from McMurdo Station, the main U.S. base. Our team of six explored the northern portions of the Ford Ranges by snowmobile and sledge, living in tents. These types of expeditions have special names within the Antarctic experience - Deep Field, or Remote Field - that means well beyond helicopter range, support and rapid rescue from the main base - we were alone and always in survival mode.

My memoir is a window into a special style of science investigation in Antarctica, and how it affected me, even to this day. My book conveys the experience of finding myself in a unique place of unfamiliar extremes and uncertain challenges. It is a story of the discovery of Earth’s secrets and of my own.

For more about Marie Byrd Land click here

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Antarctic Ice Sheet - growing or shrinking?

Posted by SCAR (Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research):

"What will Antarctica and the Southern Ocean look like in 2065?"

The 1st Martha T. Muse Fellows Colloquium; 22 April 2014; Queenstown, New Zealand

"Many forecasters and futurists tell us that in 2065:
  • the world's human population will be 8.5 billion,
  • atmospheric CO2 levels will exceed 650 ppm under a business as usual scenario,
  • the Arctic ocean will be ice free in August and September,
  • average global temperature will 4°C warmer than in 2000,
  • ocean pH will be less than 8.2, and
  • sea level will be ~26 cm higher than in 1990.
What will these dramatic changes to Planet Earth mean for the world's last great wilderness and a bellwether of global change – Antarctica and the Southern Ocean? To speculate about this future world and the ramifications for human societies, the "1st Martha T. Muse Colloquium" will convene a panel of the Martha Muse Prize awardees and guests to address the topic "Beyond the Horizon – Antarctica and the Southern Ocean 2065" in Queenstown, New Zealand on Tuesday, April 22, 2014."

Barnett Glacier.  Photo © Bruce Luyendyk
We now know from at least four lines of evidence that the greatest ice sheet on Earth is shrinking under the assault of global warming.

Where is the political will to act?

Saturday, March 15, 2014

A Memoir of Exploration in Marie Byrd Land, West Antarctica

My first post in my first blog.
This quotation explains why I am writing a memoir of my first expedition to Antarctica:

Steve, Christine, Bruce, Dave; Marie Byrd Land. 
photo © Steve Tucker
“We have two or three moving experiences in our lives – experiences so great and moving that it doesn’t seem at the time that anyone else has been so caught up and pounded and dazzled and astonished and beaten and broken and rescued and illuminated and rewarded and humbled in just that way before.” F. Scott Fitzgerald