Blog post

Winter in the Antarctic

Published on
August 13, 2013

Preparations are made ashore for the WHISKY expedition to the Antarctic, before the ship will depart from Punta Arenas.

Photo: Polarstern idle in Punta Arenas, waiting for better weather to prepare for the next trip.

The expedition WISKY / ANT-29-7

WISKY may sound like a tourist trip along famous Scottish distilleries, but is nothing like that!  The acronym WISKY for our next expedition stands for ‘Winter study on Sea ice and KeY species’.

The more direct name for the expedition is ‘ANT-29-7’, which is derived from the 29th time that the German Icebreaker Polarstern operates in Antarctic waters, and that our trip concerns the 7th leg of that journey. That leg runs from Punta Arenas, Chile into the sea ice areas of  the Weddell Sea and returns to Cape Town, South Africa. We depart August 14 and return October 16. On the way back, we will possibly make a final stop for research in the waters near the ‘warm’ South Georgia.

Preparations ashore

Prior to intended departure, we settled in Punta Arenas in Hotel Finis Terrae (the ‘End of the World Hotel’) to have time to make our preparations on the ship before it takes out to sea. In the rough Drake Passage it will be impossible to install our bird observation posts on top of the ship, or to prepare our ice-net SUIT (Surface and Under-Ice Trawl) and the laboratories and offices. Unfortunately Punta Arenas currently suffers from such heavy snow, rain and freezing winds that port authorities have prohibited the use of cranes, so that Polarstern cannot move its containers.

This afternoon, August 12, we went to the ship but could not work, and prospects for tomorrow are not too good either. But without doubt, everything will be done in the end, and we eagerly await a fascinating expedition. Join us through reading our regular messages on this dossier.

Jan Andries van Franeker