Worlds colliding in a blizzard

An international, billion Euro project like the European XFEL obviously involves a fair bit of politics and diplomacy, but also paperwork and bureaucracy. We’re coming up to a big meeting of the European XFEL Council, and a fair bit of documents need to be prepared for that. Since we’ve been insanely busy and are still somewhat short-staffed on the administrative side, I found myself pulling a 12 hour non-stop hardcore shift at my desk yesterday getting everything finalized, formatted and sent out.

In the middle of this, sometime mid-afternoon, I had a very unexpected e-mail to my XFEL account from a friend who is out on a research cruise along the eastern Antarctic Peninsula for the LARISSA project.

The project is big: they are out on the Nathaniel B. Palmer and also have a camp out on the ice, which is supported from the British base Rothera with twin otter planes and helicopters from the NBP.

According to my friend, they’ve been having a lot of problems with weather and sea ice on this cruise and have not been able to really get close enough to the Larsen B ice shelf. The sea ice they have found in the Weddell Sea has been 3 to 4 meters thick in many places, which is just a bit too much of a push for the ol’ NBP. They are doing their best, but it’s tough going and nerves are wearing a bit thin – which happens every time you have a number of PIs in the field with only a short window of time and opportunity to meet the science objectives. The NBP’s current position is near Cape Foster on the southwest corner of James Ross Island and there’s a blizzard outside.

Today I had another very unexpected e-mail from a former colleague who mentioned the Antarctic Photo Library, which features jewels like this:

…so over the next few days, while I sit in more preparatory meetings for that Council meeting at the end of the month, my mind may start wandering. But that’s ok, just as long as it comes back in time if someone asks me a question…

This post was first published on Nature Network, which has since been discontinued. The post has been moved to SciLogs.

About steffi suhr

Once upon a time, I was an enthusiastic and hopeful biological oceanographer who did a bunch of work in the Antarctic. I was alternately wearing labcoats or extreme weather clothing and hard hats, but have long since swapped survival suits for dress suits and do science management, currently as the BioMedBridges project manager at the European Bioinformatics Institute. I still like to use my brain. I'm a German serial expat, currently - again - living in the UK.
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6 Responses to Worlds colliding in a blizzard

  1. Ken Doyle says:

    Thanks for the link to the photo library…some pretty amazing pictures! Now I have another source, besides NASA, for desktop pics 🙂

  2. steffi suhr says:

    You’re welcome Ken – the pictures are excellent material for blogs, too 🙂

  3. Stephen Curry says:

    Pining for the fjords Antarctic…?

  4. steffi suhr says:

    Sometimes, yes. Lately a bit more.

  5. Linda Lin says:

    Oh lovely, that is a jewel! Thanks for the link, makes me feel cooler (mentally) in the 40 C heat down under. Must be incredible to study there..

  6. steffi suhr says:

    Actually, 40C sounds wonderful right now (we’re looking at unprecedented snow and ice well into March here in Germany…).

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