dimanche 10 janvier 2010

Antarctica is a small world

Usnea antarctica,hi.is
In the Antarctic summer 2006, I was establishing a new research project in James Ross Island (at the eastern side of the Peninsula). We had been working on the messa (table mountain) at Bibby Point with my PhD student, Olga Bohuslavova. We have established there 6 Open Top Chambers and 3 snow barriers. The messa was covered with the lichen Usnea, it was really amazing to see such a cover! This species produce a very dense community, which looks like grass. The aim of our study was to learn how this community will react during a slight warming or slight cooling. Indeed, it is well known that the Open Top Chambers induce a small temperature increase, whereas the snow barriers increase the deposition of snow and cause a cooling and increase in meltwater in summer. When we were working, far from any human settlement, we were surprised to see two silhouettes against the horizon. They just came as from Mars. We had not listened any helicopter. They came in our direction. Who could they be? We were happy to see human beings in this desolated area. They spoke to us, and now, I realise that one of them was Steve! So, this is our second meeting, and it will last longer than a just a chat!

Steve and I appreciate to share the spirit of a Belgian Antarctic expedition!

Josef Elster

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