Archive for the ‘Songs’ Category

Firn Chantey

November 27, 2012

This is about the work I’ll be presenting at AGU. Written at the request of the University of Alaska Fairbanks crowd, sung to the tune of The Sailor’s Prayer (not to be confused with the somewhat more serious “Sailor’s Prayer” that’s the first Google result for that song title.) I very much want to record all these and post videos, but I haven’t really worked out a good recording setup.

If we wish to learn
About the firn
Upon the ice sheets polar
We’ll want to know
About the snow-
fall and the input solar

Chorus: Oh, snow is white
And clean, and bright
A tricky thing to model
But easy flowed
The Matlab code
‘Longside a friendly bottle

Some grains of snow
Will slowly grow
While others are a-shrinkin’
Which ones win out
Is still in doubt
And needs a bit of thinkin’


Grains change their state
They sublimate
From many different places
When they commence
To recondense
They prefer partic’lar faces


And so we find
Grains are aligned
C-axes all together
And from this state
We can relate
Ice flow to ancient weather

(chorus again, with FEELING)


The Voyage of the Endurance

June 11, 2011

Hey guys! I wrote you a song! It’s about the epic tale of survival that resulted from Shackleton’s attempted Trans-Antarctic Expedition; I used this website as a reference for some of the events, or you could read Shackleton’s own book on the experience, South. Be sure to check out the pictures, which are widely and deservedly regarded as the best part of the book.

Sung to the tune of (The Bonnie Ship) The Diamond.

The Voyage of the Endurance

‘Twas early in the century
The world prepared for war
But Shackleton intended the Antarctic to explore.
Some men sail for profit
Some sail for renown
But this one sailed for Science and the glory of the Crown.

Through the icebergs that clash, through the great waves that roll,
The mighty ship Endurance went a-sailing for the Pole.

The whalermen had warned them
That the ice would be severe
They were still above the Circle when the first floes did appear
Still bravely they sailed southward
But soon they were beset
Imprisoned in the heaving ice, but not defeated yet

Through the icebergs…

They whiled away the winter
Drifting ‘cross the Weddell Sea
When finally the sun arose, they thought they’d soon be free
But the mounting pressure of the ice
Was more than she could bear
In just days the stout Endurance was crushed beyond repair

Through the icebergs…

They loaded up the lifeboats
With provisions piled high
They watched her sink beneath the ice as, helpless, they stood by
The men camped on an icefloe
Let it take them where it would
It brought them near an island before breaking up for good.

Through the icebergs…

The isle was cold and barren
Inhospitable to man
So Shackleton devised another daring rescue plan.
He’d sail eight hundred miles
‘Cross the world’s most stormy sea
To the whalers on South Georgia he would make his earnest plea.

Through the icebergs…

A thousand times the pounding waves
Near sank the tiny boat
They lost most of their gear and food, yet somehow stayed afloat
When the party reached South Georgia
Thirst-tormented and sore
They realized the whaler-camp was on the further shore.

Through the icebergs…

They scaled the craggy mountains
And crossed crevasses deep
They stumbled into whaler-camp half-crazed from lack of sleep
The whalers were astonished
When these strange men came in view
Soon Shackleton secured a ship to rescue all his crew

Through the icebergs…

Let Shackleton’s Antarctic fame
For centuries survive
For with all their trials and troubles, every man came back alive!

Back to the Ice

December 22, 2010

I’m leaving for the Ice again in two days.

How did this happen? I spent the last few weeks getting ready for and attending the big geophysics conference in San Francisco, and now all of a sudden it’s time to leave. I’m mostly packed; I picked up some new gear, and after all my troubles with glasses fogging up last year, I ordered some disposable contact lenses to use instead. Although I still need to find out if contacts can survive freezing solid. Anybody happen to know?

In lieu of actual science content, which may have to wait until I’m finished packing, here is a chantey I wrote about my upcoming trip. Sea chanteys are the songs that sailors used to coordinate the pulling of ropes and hoisting of anchors and whatnot, as well as just to pass the time on long ocean voyages.

This one should be sung to the tune of “Bound for South Australia” (here’s a nice rendition.) I tried to include some traditional sea chantey elements–lots of heaving and hauling, of course, of which there is a fair bit when you’re working in Antarctica, as well as complaints about the difficulty of the journey, longings for bonnie lasses, et cetera.

McMurdo Bound, or, Way South of South Australia, a minimally processed a capella version sung by yours truly.

Antarctica is where I’m bound
Heave away, haul away
I’m headed for McMurdo Sound
Yes, bound for old McMurdo

Haul away, my icy friends
Heave away, haul away
Haul until the season ends
We’re bound for old McMurdo

I’ll board a plane in old Christchurch
And head down south to do research
Haul away…

The Southern Ocean’s very wide
Eight hours’ flight to the other side
Haul away…

The storms blow up at a frightful pace
Can’t see your hand before your face
Haul away…

From blinding sun there’s no respite
For Mactown has no summer night
Haul away…

If you’d like a girl upon your knee
There’s a bonnie lass behind ev’ry tree
Haul away…

Keep gear at hand, ’cause if it’s not
You might end up like poor old Scott
Haul away…