Palmer Station: Anver's Island, Antarctica

furiousfartfuriousfart Major grinsPosts: 102Registered Users Major grins
edited May 26, 2012 in Journeys
I am now about a month into my six month stay at Palmer Station. I am spending the majority of my time as the station's electrician in support of the United States Antarctic Program, or USAP. Palmer can support about 44 people on station at anyone point. It is the smallest year round station in the program. With McMurdo being the largest and the South Pole being in the middle. While Palmer is in Antarctica it is not bellow the Antarctic circle, it is at about 64º south, and the circle is at 60º. There is a fair amount of science going on here at Palmer year round, though most of it takes place during the summer months from September to about April.

The main duties I have for my job are keeping the electrical and fire systems in top working order and "other duties as assigned." That last part is key, it basicly means I will be doing anything and everything to make sure that the various science groups can actually do science while they are on station.

I'm going to use this tread to document my fourth deployment here at Palmer. Though I will be posting some photos from previous years, like follows.

Palmer is home to some of the best sunsets in the world.


Next up will be a post on how I actually get to Palmer Station.


  • underthesurfaceunderthesurface Big grins Posts: 22Registered Users Big grins
    edited April 18, 2012

    Palmer is home to some of the best sunsets in the world.

    That's a nice shot.

    Is it home to some of the best sunsets due to the sun's position on the horizon for extended periods of time? Weather? Clouds? All of the above?

    Looking forward to seeing more from your journey. I've always wanted to go there.
  • furiousfartfuriousfart Major grins Posts: 102Registered Users Major grins
    edited April 19, 2012
    I definitely think the low angle of the sun during the winter helps the sunsets. There is usually a point for a few weeks that the sunrise blends right into a sunset. The clouds help too.

    In order to get to Palmer Station from the USA I take about 24hrs or so worth of flights all the way to Punta Arenas in Chile. Just days before beginning the trip the Punta Arenas, they had massive rain fall with something like 30% of the yearly rain fall over the course of a day.



    Not every area was hit as bad as others, even less then a block away some places looked pretty good.


    The square with a statue of Magellan looked like it didn't see a single bit of mud.


    After spending a few days walking around and trying to stay as mud free as possible, I boarded the R/V Laurence M Gould, the LMG.


    The orange ship is the LMG. After the LMG departs Punta Arenas the worst part of the trip is about a day away. When looking at a map the tip of South America and Antarctica look like they are reaching for each other. That gap between them is call "The Drake Passage". While the trip across wasn't too bad this year there have been times in the past I find myself wishing I could just sleep through it all. The LMG is a flat bottomed ship and tends to kinda "corkscrew" with the waves that can tend to be pretty rough. The best part is it only lasts for about 36hrs or so then you get through and see your first glimpse of the peninsula.

    Next up will be the trip down the peninsula to Palmer Station.
  • ian408ian408 More wag. Less Bark. Posts: 21,236Administrators moderator
    edited April 20, 2012
    Looking forward to another installment!
    Moderator Journeys/Sports/Big Picture :: Need some help with dgrin?
  • furiousfartfuriousfart Major grins Posts: 102Registered Users Major grins
    edited April 20, 2012
    So after bumpy but not bad trip across the Drake, the ship arrived just off of the peninsula of Antarctica. Usually from this point to station is the better part of 24hrs, but this trip there was also fishing for science that needed to be done. When the LMG slows down to go trawling it tends to feel like the swell of the ocean is amplified. There were several times I woke up from a deep sleep with my arms spreading out to find something to grab. At times you almost end up with the feeling of being weightless.

    Luckily or unluckily for the science group the fishing was pretty bad so we started off for Palmer. Now up until the day we were to arrive at Palmer the weather had been over cast with rain and snow and about 10ft swells. The morning of our arrival I woke to what at that point was errily calm, and super clear for our journey through the Neumayer channel. This was my seventh trip through the Neumayer and this was the best weather I've ever had for it.






    Next, welcome to Palmer Station
  • rsquaredrsquared Major grins Posts: 306Registered Users Major grins
    edited April 20, 2012
    I'm enjoying both the story and the pictures. Can't wait for more.
    Rob Rogers -- R Squared Photography (Nikon D90)
  • DavidTODavidTO Mod Emeritus Posts: 19,160Administrators moderator
    edited April 29, 2012
    rsquared wrote: »
    I'm enjoying both the story and the pictures. Can't wait for more.

    Moderator Emeritus
    Dgrin FAQ | Me | Workshops
  • furiousfartfuriousfart Major grins Posts: 102Registered Users Major grins
    edited May 5, 2012
    Palmer Station is small. The maximum number of people Palmer can support is 44. At that number every bed has an occupent, everyone has a roommate and the Labs are full of scientists. As a result of this smallness, everything at Palmer is small from the Galley to the dorms, or the gym to the labs. Especially the pier.

    To load and unload cargo Palmer uses shipping containers like you've seen on ships or rolling down the highway behind a big rig. On the Palmer pier we can fit 4 of them at anyone time, this leaves a small passage for foot traffic to and from the LMG. The LMG is not a large ship, but it still manages to dwarf the pier.


    The footprint of the station is fairly compact. You can walk to most places in under five minutes.


    When you see both the station and the LMG together you can start to get an idea of just how small Palmer really is. Where the max number of people at Palmer is 44, it is 36 on the LMG not including crew.


    This is the Palmer pier. Maybe in the next few years we will get a new one, but for now this rusty rock filled one is all we have. With out it we'd be stuck using Zodiacs to move cargo and people to and from Palmer.


    In a Zodiac you are small. if it wasn't for the orange floatsuits you could be lost in the landscape.


    Given that Palmer is on the ocean all our drinking water is processed with a Reverse Osmosis machine. This basically strips everything from the water and leaves us with pure clean water. We pull this water up from our pumphouse. The pumphouse also happens to be one of my favorite places to take pictures.



    Up next will be a continued tour of station and some of the science that happens here.
  • underthesurfaceunderthesurface Big grins Posts: 22Registered Users Big grins
    edited May 6, 2012
    Enjoying the posts -thanks!
  • denisegoldbergdenisegoldberg Major grins North Andover, MAPosts: 11,472Super Moderators moderator
    edited May 6, 2012
    Thanks so much for your story and your photos, for introducing me to this space at the bottom of the world. Very nice!

    I look forward to the next addition.

    --- Denise
  • ChrisJChrisJ Major grins Posts: 2,156Registered Users Major grins
    edited May 7, 2012
    Beautiful! Looking forward to more.

  • Pono PhotoPono Photo Major grins Posts: 68Registered Users Beginner grinner
    edited May 8, 2012
    Great stuff! I really want to go to Palmer Station. I already have a t-shirt from there, so I figure I should go. lol
  • dave6253dave6253 Major grins Posts: 229Registered Users Major grins
    edited May 11, 2012
    Thanks for sharing. The photos are outstanding.
  • furiousfartfuriousfart Major grins Posts: 102Registered Users Major grins
    edited May 19, 2012
    Thanks for the comments. Things have been kinda busy the last week or so, hopefully I will get a chance to update this tomorrow.
  • SamSam San Jose CA Posts: 7,418Registered Users Major grins
    edited May 20, 2012
    Yes, please keep posting. From my reading this is supposed to become a tropical paradise in ten years or so. :D

  • furiousfartfuriousfart Major grins Posts: 102Registered Users Major grins
    edited May 22, 2012
    So I was going to do a post about the Station and General and some of the science that goes on here, well I am going to put that on hold for now. Instead I'm going to lead off with a series of photos from the same spot over the last 5 years. This spot is located on Amsler Island which itself was thought to be part of Anvers Island until it was uncovered by the decreasing glacier in 2004.









    It's worth noting that in 2000 this was completely covered in ice. Palmer sits right under one of the ozone holes that shows up every November and is in an area that has some of the most dramatic glacier loss.
  • DavidTODavidTO Mod Emeritus Posts: 19,160Administrators moderator
    edited May 26, 2012
    Wow, that's depressing.
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    Dgrin FAQ | Me | Workshops
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