Saturday, January 16, 2010

colors of Antarctica

As you have seen in the pictures I have posted previously, there is very little in the way of color (or 'colour') variety across the Antarctic landscape. We have lots of white..
Iceburg stuck in the seasonal ice, McMurdo Sound
lots of gray and brown...
Commonwealth Glacier, Lower Taylor Valley

and if it is a nice day, some blue above...
Lake Fryxell and Canada Glacier, Taylor Valley

However, what has caught our attention more and more is the changing of the 'light brown' soils to dark brown, where they are obviously becoming wet. We see this around lakes and streams all of the time:
Priscu Stream entering Lake Bonney, note the dark, wet soils around both water bodies.

But we are now seeing it in places that do not have obvious water sources (snow, lakes, streams, etc.). This is a strong indication of the melting of ground ice and permafrost in the McMurdo Dry Valleys:
South shore of Lake Hoare

These wetted spots across the landscape are indicative of a strong change in the Dry Valleys ecosystem that we look forward to studying for years to come.

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