Before going out to treat the stoichiometry plots on the south side of Lake Bonney, we had to refill all our solution jugs. There are 33 of them. They take up most of the hallway.

Carboys for watering

The carboys weigh 25 lbs each. We were not enthusiastic about hauling them around again, but we are tough. We are Antarctic Wormherders! Due to some unscheduled extra ground time (sometimes the helicopters can’t pick us up when we want them to, so we are at the mercy of their schedule, but they try to be fair) we decided to also treat the BEE plots with water and change the chambers (more on this later). This meant 80 lbs more water, and someone was going to get bumped off the trip because we were too heavy for the helicopter to carry. We chose the smallest person: Diana. Poor Diana!

In the end, Breana, Byron, and Ed flew to the west lobe of Lake Bonney to take care of two experiments at once. We are multi-taskers. The weather was prohibitive – we sat in the helicopter terminal for two hours waiting for it to clear up enough for us to fly. We got to Lake Bonney eventually, but it was very cold and windy. AFter we offloaded all our gear, the helicopter took off and promised to come back to get us in 7 hours. Seven hours at cold Lake Bonney! Luckily we had 33 jugs of water and some equipment to lug up to our plots, so we worked up a good sweat during the first hour of work.

Clouds over the Kukri Hills

Helipad at Lake Bonney with Wormherder gear in the background
Helipad and gear

As with the stoichiometry plots at F6 we sampled the soil first and then poured the solutions on the plots. Byron and Ed sampled while Breana directed, but she got so cold she decided to sample too! It took an hour to sample all 56 plots. Then Byron and Breana added solutions while Ed refilled their pouring jugs. We were all very cold by this time, and one of the best ways to fight hypothermia is to make sure you eat a lot and drink plenty of liquids. The thing about the south side of the west lobe of Lake Bonney is that there is no camp. No hut to escape to for a hot cup of tea. Not even a tent to hide in if the wind picks up. For this reason it’s important to make your own heat by exercising, eating, or drinking.

Ed eats a chocolate bar to keep up his strength
Ed keeping warm at Bonney

This didn’t work very well for Breana. She was really cold all day, and there was much discussion about whether or not she would have survived the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration. About one hundred years ago, men risked their lives trying to reach the south pole, and explored Antarctica in the name of science and adventure. We decided Byron was the only one of us who would have been tough enough for Shackleton, Scott, Mawson or Amundsen. Look at this guy! He’s still smiling after all that work! He’s not even tired!

Byron in front of Taylor Glacier

After finishing the stoichiometry experiment, we changed out all the chambers on the BEE plots. These chambers act as greenhouses, increasing the heat of the soil surface by two degrees Celsius. They have to be properly tethered down to avoid blowing away in a winter storm, and they get beat up in the wind. Every few years we replace the bungee cords, harnesses and chambers with new ones to prevent loss of the chambers and to make sure they are working properly.

BEE plots

Worm Farms

The helicopter finally arrived, nearly 8 hours after leaving us out there. On the way back to McMurdo, Ed and Breana fell asleep in the helicopter. Byron took pictures the whole way home.