Air Date: 19-Aug-21
Scientist: Deborah Shapiro, Rolf Bjelke
ambience: Wind, Antarctic peninsula
This time of year, when the weather in much of the United States is predictably hot and humid, consider for a moment, what’s happening on the other side of the world. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.
Bjelke: We are on board our sailboat, sitting in about four feet of ice, along the Antarctic peninsula. And the wind that we experience is a special wind that is related to deep pressures coming through Drake Passage, and bringing northeasterly wind of hurricane force and sometimes up to 90, to 100, 110 knots.
It’s winter in Antarctica, and Rolf Bjelke and Deborah Shapiro experienced the full impact of the polar winter when they spent an entire season aboard their sailboat, frozen in the Antarctic ice.
Shapiro: The storm force winds are part of the cycle of depressions that spin away from the opposite side of Antarctica and work their way around the Antarctic continent. And we had the experience of a barometer drop of 103 millibar over six days.
Bjelke: A barometer drop of 3 to 4 millibar per hour indicates a storm. And when you see it’s going down 100 millibar, you know that you’re in for something special.
The storm was so intense that even the thick ice surrounding their boat and holding it fast, proved to be no match for the power of the wind.
Bjelke: When this particular storm started, we felt very secure. And we were very surprised to see that the storm was so strong the boat broke loose from the ice and was thrown on the side. We were heeling over, I would say up to 25 degrees, from just the wind that’s in the rigging.
We’ll hear more about the Antarctic winter in future programs. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.