We made it into Rothera yesterday afternoon, via some more CTDs - one section across a trough to look at the potential for warm deep water (well, 1.5C, but everything is relative) to flow up the trough and affect sea ice coverage. There certainly is warm water there, but we'll have to do more work to see how much is flowing up the trough, and what affect it has. Hopefully a mooring will be put in the middle soon to measure it year-round. I was officialy PSO (Principal Scientist Onboard) for the section as it was actually BAS work, but that was mostly because I had the list of station positions with me. We started at 8.30pm and got the 9 CTDs done in time for breakfast - slept before dinner and after breakfast. The Drake Passage is Southampton led, just on the BAS ship as the JCR has to be there to supply the bases. One last CTD very close to Rothera to get water samples to test for melting land-ice using the ratio of a heavy isotope of Oxygen, which is under-represented in evaporation, and therefore ice from snow (as opposed to sea ice).
Some photos from the approach to Rothera. Lots of spectacular scenery but not much visibility for most of the time down the peneinsula. Had a fly-past by one of the BAS Twin-Otter planes. The monkey island above the bridge is the favoured lookout point for the scenery and whales - a few Minke Whales and some more Humpbacks were around along the peninsula. It's also the main location for the ship's GPS receivers and communication aerials. For the science, we have to know exactly where the ship is, how fast it is going (several different GPS systems), which was it is heading (2 GPS phase difference receivers), how far it is pitching and rolling (inertial sensors inside the ship, plus 4 GPS phase difference receivers).
Some photos of the base at Rothera and the spectacular surroundings. We have been followed into the bay by quite a lot of floating ice (see difference in last two photos), but there has been very little fast sea ice around Rothera this year (some years the ship hasn't been able to reach Rothera until after Christmas).
Rothera is located for the combination of a sheltered deep water port and runway next to the base rather than it's wildlife value but, being Antarctica, the wildlife that is around is quite special, and approachable.