PRISM LogoPolar Radar for Ice Sheet Measurements    |   Bears on Ice Iceberg shaped endcap graphic
Home Button - Return to Project Description
Polar Explorer - For Teachers, Students, and Parents
Mission Information - Project Updates, Scientific Articles
Team Connection - For PRISM Team Members Only

Questions And Answers

Subj: Q&A and misc

Date: 10/16/00 10:29:28 PM Pacific Daylight lime

From: [email protected] (Gordon Bain (on Aurora)

Hello Betty

I was poking around a web site we have on the ship and came across some material from a previous voyage. At the end of this message is a piece you might find interesting -I understand Coral was a writer from Hobart and had been in e-mail contact with a school or schools in Hobart. I haven't been through all the questions and the responses but think they'd be pretty all right. Feel free to use the material in class in whatever manner will work best. I'm more than happy to take questions from the kids direct or via you of course.

I'll keep poking around the website and I'll lift written material or photos which might be useful.

When we get into the sea ice in a few days I expect to have a longish session with the National Geographic people concerning my job and what it is all about, and also the special relationship with Berkley and our project.

I'm not sure if I've mentioned it before but the National Geographic producer on board is Birgit Buhleier, She normally travels on assignment with her husband Greg Marshall. They've made a number of wonderful documentaries and Greg perfected the technique known as CreatureCam, where cameras are attached to sea creatures and follow their activities. Unfortunately Greg couldn't convince NGS Television that the amount of time on this assignment was justifiable, so Birgit has come out from DC on her own but has teamed up with David Riggs from Perth Western Australia who contracts with NGS often. Look out for Birgit and Greg's names in the credits of those NGS documentaries.

I'm not really sure how Birgit is going to handle the vast amount of material they have and will gather. Their principal assignment is doing a special documentary on the Leopard Seal but that wont really start till they get to site in Davis -though assembling and getting the team to Antarctica is of course part of the story. But the trip down is taking them down all sorts of byways (e.g., my job, various events and happenings, the sediment traps, the CPR, Berkley and a myriad of other things) -just life and living and working on this ship. In one form or another I think we'll see a degree of special attention given to Berkley and your project.


These are questions e-mailed to Coral Tulloch during voyage 6 1998-99 and answered by Coral with the help of the expeditioners, crew and scientists on board.

What other colours are there apart from white?

The colours are endless. Sea ice and land ice and snow are affected also by the various colours of the sky and the light reflects varying colours from the ice.

Where is the closest corner shop to buy the milk?

The closest corner shop to buy the milk, for Australian stations, is in Hobart.

Do you have TV?

We don't have any T. V. aboard, but there are plenty of videos.

Do they have any plants in Antarctica?

There are plants in Antarctica. Mainly small mosses and one of our expeditioners is studying this, so more on that later.

How do you sleep when it is light all day?

When it is light all day, people have curtains or blinds that they can draw over their windows so that they can sleep.

How big is the biggest polar bear?

There are no polar bears in the Antarctic.

Has anybody been snowboarding?

I'm not sure about snowboarding but they seem to do everything else, so they must. They ski and skate and have all sorts of machines to ride around on. They walk across ice and they mountain climb.

Are you scared you'll get frostbite?

You can get very cold before you get frost bite and the best thing to do if someone is suffering is to take your clothes off and jump into a sleeping bag with them and cuddle them tightly. Your body temperature will slowly help to bring the other person's temperature back up.

 How will you keep your paints unfrozen?

I haven't checked my paints for a few days...they are in a fairly cold place but I'll bring them back into the warmth in case they freeze.

Are you going to the Subantarctic?

We are going to the subantarctic, Macquarie Island...last stop before Hobart.

Is the ice more white or different colours?

Sometimes the ice is so white it is blinding, so we have been given special glasses that help to cut down the glare.

How can you draw and paint in those big Antarctic gloves?

I am not painting outside. has been too difficult to set up or take on  the continent with me. I  take a book with me and I write and draw in the book. ...only it also becomes a problem outside, as you are often trying to take photos as well and you have gloves on and it becomes very awkward.

What damage would an iceberg do to the ship?

There are many icebergs as we travel the ocean around us. There is fantastic radar on this ship and so, even at night they can see most icebergs. Some of them can be under the water though and yesterday I was outside and one came shooting up from the side of the ship where I was standing. It was an old green piece of ice. Very thrilling, but a little scary too! Ships try not to hit any difficult ice.

Do you need sunscreen in Antarctica?

You need a lot of sunscreen. ...we have all been a little burnt by the wind, sun and the cold.

Will you go fishing in Antarctica?

Apart from one man on board who, as a joke fished from the back of the ship, when we were in calmer waters, the only fishing we will be doing is for krill. Krill is the main food supply for the marine animals and we have a scientist on board who will try to catch some krill and bring them back to Australia in special tanks on board the ship to study them.

Is the food like plane food? What dishes will the cook make?

The cook makes the most fantastic dishes. We have 3 cooked meals a day and you can have just about anything that you want. Any time of the day you can come in and make yourself something to eat like toasted cheese treats, crumpets, hot soup there's always loads of fruit, left-over salads and meats and of course, huge containers of every type of biscuit and trays of cakes you would want. Sometimes we have had crayfish there's always a soup and two main dishes and one vegetarian one to choose from. Hot vegetables and salads.

What will you do with all your rubbish?

All the rubbish has different areas it goes to. In the corridors where our rooms are there are bins for burnable and non-burnable rubbish. They burn all the food and paper scraps... AII our cans are compacted and everything including container loads from the stations, is returned to Australia. They keep all our sewerage in big tanks on board the ship. They even make fresh water from sea water, on the ship. ... so we have plenty to wash in.

Have you lived in such a cold place before?

I have never lived in such a cold place before. ...Antarctica is the coldest place on Earth and it is a little difficult to draw in gloves.

What will you miss the most?

I miss my daughter Tully the most. I have lots of pictures of her up in my cabin and I talk to those everyday.

Do the clothes keep you warm?

Even when you have all your freezer suit and everything else on it is still fantastic to come inside. ...It is very cold outside.

What do you have for breakfast?

We can have anything we like for breakfast from eggs and bacon and tomatoes and hot rolls and pancakes and muffins, fruit, yogurt, cereals...etc. etc.

What is your cabin like?

The cabins on the ship are great. Most of them have 3 to 4 beds in them, but as there are not many of us, at the moment, we have one to ourselves. The beds are very comfortable...they are little couches that fold down to beds. We have a desk and a wardrobe and a fold up table and a porthole to see the icebergs and a shower and toilet. , so its very private and roomy. My cabin has a lot of paintings starting to dot the walls.

When is the hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica the biggest?

The hole in the ozone layer is biggest over Antarctica during Spring.

How many months are in the Antarctic winter?

According to expeditioners on this ship: The winter season is from March till October, but true winter, where they receive little light, is from late June till late August.

How far does the iceshelf grow over winter?

The sea ice grows to double the size of Antarctica during winter and believe me, we are steaming through thousands of miles of it at present!

How does the population of the Emperor Penguin colonies change from Summer to Winter?

(From our resident Penguin Biologist) ln April they lay their eggs by about May, the chicks hatch the chicks grow through winter and are able to be out andfeeding by themselves by February.

How many species of penguins live in the Antarctic?

Other penguins have colonies in Antarctica, but only the Adelie and the Emperor are specific to Antarctica.

Which explorer circled the Antarctic in 1772?

Unfortunately, on our ship we don't have a library, but I do know that James Cook was the first to record a complete sail around the mass of ice and land, realising there was an entire continent and it was around your date. . . if not that date.

How many knots does the Aurora Australis travel at?

The Aurora Australis travels at different speeds. If we are in heavy seas it will slow, or they change course sometimes to make it more comfortable for us especially when we are eating! ln ice, sometimes we have to reverse and take a run up at the ice to break it and get through. . . at present, in fairly open sea, with just a few floating bits of ice, that now and then crash, bash against the ship we are doing. ...18.4 knots. ...that's quite fast compared to when you are in the ice.

How do weather balloons work?

Weather balloons are pumped up by a bicycle pump and have sensors on them to tell the air pressure and temperature.

What are the possible dangers of living in the Antarctic?

Antarctica is the most inhospitable place on Earth for humans to live and so there are many dangers. People who come to stay here are given a great deal of training before they arrive and the cold and the conditions of the ice and snow are of major importance.

How do animals survive in the cold?

Many animals survive in the very cold environment by layers of blubber, such as whales and seals. Penguins have feathers that have a covering of oil to make them water-proof. Some fish have adapted to having no red blood cells and have a liquid blood that contains a type of anti-freeze.

 What is the view when you get there?

The view in Antarctica, no matter if you are traveling the ocean or on the shores of the continent is continuously changing from huge blue glaciers to rocky islands, icebergs and constantly changing sea ice. . . to the huge skin of Antarctica, which is the sheet of ice that covers and moves across its surface.

How do you travel in the Antarctic?

People travel around in the snow and the ice in different ways. There are various types of vehicles that you can use and also skiing, walking.

What does it sound like when you hit an iceberg?

It sounds like an enormous THUD, CRUNCH and the ship shakes when you hit an iceberg. but we try only to hit ice bits... not huge bergs... but

ice is like steel and there is a type of berg called a growler, which I saw for the first time yesterday... they have struck many ships... they roll around in the ocean and hide. little ice bombs. ...this one yesterday was like the size of a house.

Do people play golf:

Apparently the longest putt ever was recorded once at Mawson but there is someone on board here, who is going to Macquarie Island who has bought along golf clubs but there are no greens.

What kind of animals did you see on the trip?

We have seen whales, Adelie penguins and emperor penguins, elephant seals, crabeater seals, weddell seals, lots of various Antarctic birds.

How close do you get to the penguins?

There are special international laws that state how far you or your machinery , including helicopters can get to all wildlife in Antarctica so we find out our distance for each specific animal we may be approaching.

What do you do with all your rubbish?

Australian bases take all their rubbish away from Antarctica but there are high temperature incinerators that also are used to burn food scraps etc.

Do you sleep in all your clothes?

Most people do not sleep in all their clothes today in Antarctica. The stations are really well heated and everyone wears just casual clothing, but there are special rooms you enter or leave from where your 'freezer suits' are hanging up and your boots. ...if you go outside you must put those on.

How tall are the icebergs?

Some icebergs are enormous, as great lumps of the plateau or ice sheet break off the continent... they can be as large as a small

Island ... others are quite small, like apartment blocks ...  as they move north, they melt and become smaller.

How do you go to the toilet in all your clothes?

Men urinate in the normal way... women are given a small plastic device that is put through the fly of the thermal pants and it has a tube make it very similar to men. In order to poo... expeditioners always take black garbage bags and a plastic drum with them. The bag is placed in the drum, you sit on the edge and when you are finished it is tied up. Nothing lasts long in Antarctica without freezing. it freezes up and is then taken back to the station. This is only done when people are away from the stations.

What does Antarctica mean?

Antarctica comes from the Greek word arktos. ...the stars that formed the symbol of the bear in the Northern Hemisphere. This became known as the Arctic ... anti, or opposite...was the south.

Are the crew bossy?

The crew said that they were never bossy. ...and we are going to hold them to that. ...In fact it is really nice and it's like being part of a big family.

What do you do on the boat all day?

It would be very hard to become bored as the ocean and the sky change so dramatically all the time.

How low has the temperature been since you arrived?

The coldest temperature we have received so far is -21 degrees, but then if the wind is blowing it makes it much colder they call this the "wind chill factor" and that can double the temperature.

Don't forget to save us lots and lots of chocolate? And don't forget the Tim Tams?

Forget me bringing home chocolates and tim tams. they have all been eaten by hungry expeditioners!




Home | Polar Explorer | Mission Information | Team Connection |

PRISM © 2002 - is brought to you by

National Science Foundation Logo
National Science Foundation
Information and Telecommunication Technology Center Logo
Information and Telecommunication Technology Center (ITTC)
Kansas Technology Enterprise Corporation Logo
Kansas Technology Enterprise Corporation
University of Kansas Jayhawk Logo
University of Kansas