Sunrise, Sunset and grease!
Five days ago our view was of open water. The following day we saw the beginnings of the ‘grease’ ice start to form. As each day passes, the ice gets thicker and denser and is already forming ‘pancake’ ice. In a lake where there is no water movement and protection from the wind, the surface of the water would be like newly-made glass. In the bay where it’s subject to both wind and wave action the early ‘grease’ ice stage is when its at its prettiest.
We had an amazing sunrise and sunset on each of the last few days. This is thanks, in part, to the sea ice finally beginning to form. The ‘grease’ ice makes the surface of the water so glassy that the reflection of the sky and the sunset is simply amazing. Here’s the sunrise we were greeted with on Friday:
As the sun crests the plateau the icebergs light up one by one. The sea is still quite dark as it’s reflecting the dark sky to the North-West of us. An even better sunset was yet to follow.
Before the sunset, the moon rose in the east just next to the Emergency Vehicle Shelter (EVS) where our fire Hagglunds and Search and Rescue (SAR) quad bikes are kept at the ready.
The shallow angle of viewing and the reflective ‘grease’ ice had turned the whole bay peach by this stage. It was quite impressive to look at and gave the whole Living Quarters a warm feeling thanks to the warm glow. Notice also the small patches of water that are darker and less reflective.
This is the last of the colourful light that we saw from the sun. Most people commented that it looked like there was a large bushfire on the other side of Gardener Island. Personally, I thought it looked more like a volcano (I think I just like the word ‘magma’). Aside from the glow, I also really like the curly clouds that were lit up white and yellow above the thicker, darker clouds. Some of them were quite ethereal so they haven’t turned out quite as well in the picture as they did to the naked eye.
Aside from how pretty the reflection of the warm sky is in this photo, it’s also a great example of just how smooth the ‘grease’ ice makes the water. Lots of individual ice crystals form in the water column and float to the surface. Once enough builds up, the crystals start to flow poorly against each other and the viscosity of the top little bit of the water column increases. It really is thick like grease, hence the name. It’s this property that prevents the wind from causing small ripples in the water, and in turn keeps it so flat and reflective.
Last of all is a novelty photo for the week. Most of the shots in this post were taken from the veranda of the Living Quarters building. As I was standing there taking some photos of the sunset I noticed an interesting pattern caused by a couple of three-point turns. I thought the end result actually looked a little like the opera house.
I hope you’ve enjoyed looking at these photos at least a fraction of how much we enjoyed watching the real deal unfold in front of our eyes. The sunrise and sunset are at reasonable times now, so we get to see both of them each day. Before long we’ll have only a couple of hours of daylight left. Conversely, the beginning of the fast ice has us all excited about the travel opportunities we’ll have in a couple of months when the ice is thick enough. I can’t wait!