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Old 17-06-2005, 21:26   #1
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New Chart for Palmer Station, Antarctica

Scientists Find Hidden Dangers to Passing Ships

Using inflatable boats, a portable depth sounder with GPS, and a REMUS autonomous underwater vehicle, a team of scientists and engineers has created the first detailed, comprehensive chart of the ocean floor around Palmer Station in Antarctica, revealing previously unknown submerged rocks.
The new chart, the first in 50 years, was made by a research team from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and the University of Southern Mississippi over five weeks in April and early May as they looked for sites for a new underwater observatory. Their findings revealed a number of previously unmapped submerged rocks, among them a set of sharp rocky pinnacles that are potential navigational hazards. Some rise nearly 100 meters (about 330 feet) to a depth of six meters (about 20 feet) below the surface and near to the routes generally taken by ships through the area.
The previous nautical chart of the area was produced in the mid 1900's by single soundings taken at very wide spacing. Although some underwater hazards were marked on the earlier chart, the old chart was found to be incorrect by at least 0.5 nautical miles (just under one mile).
Since Palmer Station was first established as a scientific outpost in 1965, ships have followed a particular route through the visible rocks. In typical marine navigation in poorly charted waters, ships new to the area proceed cautiously, making continuous soundings with their bridge fathometer. They then note their routes on charts and follow the same routes when entering and departing the area.
Palmer Station is at 64 ̊46' S, 64 ̊03' W, on protected Arthur Harbor on the southwestern coast of Anvers Island, about midway down the Antarctica Peninsula. Palmer is one of three U.S. research stations on the continent and the only station north of the Antarctic Circle. Named for American sealer Nathaniel B. Palmer, who in 1820 was one of the first to see Antarctica, the station was built in 1968 to replace the prefabricated wood huts of 'Old Palmer' station, established in 1965. In 1990 Palmer Station was designated by the National Science Foundation as a long term ecological research (LTER) site.
Gallager, Asper and their team went to survey the sea floor around Palmer Station to locate possible sites for the installation of the first underwater cabled observatory in Antarctica. The Polar Remote Interactive Marine Observatory (PRIMO) will be equipped with sensors to monitor ocean properties during an entire year. It will be installed in the Austral fall of 2006 about two nautical miles to the south of Palmer Station on the ocean bottom at a depth of approximately 130 meters (425 feet), connected by a fiber-optic and electrical cable to a newly constructed building at Palmer Station.
Instruments, including current meters, plankton imaging systems, and an under ice video observation system, will travel up and down through the water column throughout the day from the observatory’s base to just below the surface, even after the pack ice forms and covers the area. Proximity sensors on the top of the profiling platform will send and receive acoustic signals to prevent it from contacting the ice. The scientists hope to use this first observatory as a proof of concept and test-bed for a similar observatory to be located in deeper water.
“ Protection of the cable and underwater platform from grounding icebergs at depths of 100 meters (330 feet) or greater is a major concern, and the primary reason for needing the detailed underwater maps, but finding the rocks was an unexpected bonus of the trip,” said Gallager. “The real challenge now is to design and build a platform that will survive the harsh Antarctic winters in the water and provide us the first ever long-term, high resolution glimpses of what is going on in this region of the Southern Ocean. That will be exciting!”

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Old 03-10-2005, 19:47   #2
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Hey Gord,

I thought Antarctica, was off limits to non-scientific personnel?

So what is this doing on this forum?

Just thought I'd ask.



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Old 02-11-2005, 06:21   #3
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Anyone can sail to Antarctica, the only restrictions I'm aware of is for commercial operators and maybe some garbage/bilge disposal regulations. The Palmer Peninsula area is reasonably popular, has even been kayaked. The US has deemed itself responsible for SAR operations on the continent and will come to your rescue but expect an astronomical account if you need to be repatriated. Be prepared and be self reliant (a given for most cruisers anyway).

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Old 02-11-2005, 10:48   #4
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The Antarctic is pretty much a "self regulating" environment. If you can get there, then you damn well deserve to get a look at the place. The trip becomes the qualifier. There is NO ocean in the world like that of the Deep Southern ocean. However, there is one problem with getting down there, you have to get back again

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