Posts Tagged ‘results’


October 7, 2009

It’s a tremendous amount of fun to go out on the ice, take data, and drink in the Antarctic sites. Eventually, however, the question must arise: what is it all for? Do we have anything to show for it?

The answer, in this case, is yes. Rich has spent a couple of days diligently analyzing our albedo data, and we’ve found that, just as we expected, colder sea ice has a higher albedo, probably due to the crystallization of salts in the brine pockets. Here’s a graph of the albedo at a wide range of wavelengths of light. The graph shows three measurements at cold temperatures below the crystallization point (-23 degrees Celsius.) As you can see, the albedos get steadily higher as the temperatures drop and salt crystallizes in more brine pockets.

Rich's analysis of our albedo measurements. Click for larger image.

Rich also spent a day in our cold room, while the helpful freezer technicians changed the temperature from above -23 to below -23 and back. Here are his Highly Magnified brine pockets (as mentioned previously) in the process of going from liquid brine to crystallized hydrohalite:

The hydrohalite is behaving just as we want it to. This is an unusual thing in science.

It may not look like much, but the minute changes visible in those photos are really quite tremendously exciting. Rich’s long hours in the cold, drafty, noisy freezer have not been spent in vain.