Thursday, 28 March 2013

Day 14 - Icebergs on the horizon and a portrait of the voyage leader

We are now steaming between Elephant Island and the South Orkneys. The weather has continued to improve and we were treated to a sunset over distant icebergs and sea ice. The vivid colours continued as the full moon rose to the east. 

Photo: Two icebergs and a horizon of sea ice under the full moon.

The latest map of sea-ice gives us a good chance of recovering the moorings near the Orkneys but far less of recovering the moorings further south. If the ice is thick and covers a lot of the surface, there is a good chance the moorings could get stuck as they float to the top. Once lodged in the ice there is no way we’d get them back. Phil from the Lamont Earth Observatory in New York, who has been sent down to get them, is apprehensive, but pragmatic. The batteries are ‘rated’ for another two years he says. But that is two more years of trying to get funding to get them out, two more years where the mooring could be exposed to rust, critters and more ice and two years later that the precious data will be analysed and brought into scientific sphere. We have our fingers crossed the ice isn’t as bad as the satellites make it look.

As today was a day off for most of us, I thought I’d take the opportunity to do a profile. And who better to start with than our Voyage Leader Extraordinaire: Jean-Baptiste Sallee.

Jean-Baptiste, or JB as he is known (the French are no less into acronyms than us Anglos), is an Oceanographer hailing originally from near Paris. He did a PhD in Oceanography in Toulouse then moved to Hobart to do a Post-Doctoral Fellowship. He has been at the British Antarctic Survey since 2010 and will soon be heading back to France to take a fellowship in Paris. 

When I first met JB in Hobart many years ago I thought he was a direct descendent from Jacques Cousteau himself. He was a debonair Frenchman, into Scuba, red wine and sailing the Seven Seas. Since living in Australia he began to assimilate to and Anglo-Saxon and more recently, very British way of life. Now, he proudly wears a Union Jack on his orange British Antarctic Survey jacket and I have heard him extort the wonders of mint sauce on lamb roast. I have even seen him happily stand in a long queue without pushing to the front and once, after taking a sip of warm ale in a Cambridge pub, he said “I quite like it”.

 Photo: JB refuses to been seen without the Union Jack on his shoulder...;-)

Metamorphoses aside, he is a great scientist and voyage leader. JB’s main scientific interest is the surface layers of the Southern Ocean. JB has quantified the rate at which water and CO2 are pumped into the Ocean interior via this area. In fact, around 40% of the CO2 in the ocean that is of human-industrial origin has entered through the Southern Ocean, and JB has helped to understand where and how that is occurring. As a voyage leader he has been well organised, keen to inspire scientific thought and discussion and above all keeps a cool head. Despite his high level role he has been willing to get his hands dirty when needed (and dress the part too!).

 Photo: JB getting down and dirty to clean up one of the ships labs for the tracer team at the biggining of the voyage.

A la mere de Jean-Baptiste: Il et pas telemont Roz-Beef come jais dit, mais peut etre il va prefere plus une Yorkshire Pudding que une baguette le prochain visit chez vous...;-)   

1 comment:

  1. Love the photos. Not eating lamb and mint sauce right now but have watched short video on Halley VI the new research station. are you going to visit?