The bad weather knocked us out for a few days, but we’re back on, thank goodness! We have a very short amount of time to work down here, so we have to make the most of it.

Today Ed and Breana flew out to the south side of Lake Hoare to treat the BEE plots and change the chambers. BEE stands for Biotic Effects Experiment, where we are warming (ITEX chambers) and wetting (5.6 L millipure water) the soil, simulating climate change. See, we expect that with global warming, water will become more available in the Dry Valleys.

Worm Farms

We have evidence of this from the austral summer of 2001-2002, when warmer summer temperatures caused massive melting of snow packs, glaciers, permafrost, etc. This water all came tumbling down into the lakes, in fact, even washing out some of our BEE plots at Lake Bonney!

A famous exchange from that season:
Berry Lyons, Geochemist, “Diana, why did you put your plots in a stream?”
Diana Wall, Head Wormherder, “I DIDN’T!!”

At any rate, this year we had to apply the water and change all the chambers. The katabatic winds in the valleys sandblast our chambers, and every few years we have to put out new ones, because the old ones become very scratched and brittle. Because of the wind, we use bungee cords and strong wire harnesses to hold the chambers down. These have to be replaced too. It’s not a tough job, so Ed and I volunteered to do it and spent a few hours across from the Lake Hoare camp, working peacefully in the sun and periodically calling Lake Hoare on the radio.

Then we flew to F6 to do the same thing. By this point, we were very fast at changing chambers, so we had lots of time to sit in the hut and drink tea. It’s a tough life!