2022: Blog | Weather
We are a month into this season and I don’t think we have mentioned the weather in any detail yet! We receive a weather forecast from the UK office twice a week and I neatly copy it onto a whiteboard sheet on the back door of the Nissen living quarters. As much of our work this season is very much weather dependent with tasks such as painting, working on the windows and so on, the weather is a regular topic of conversation!
We also record daily weather observations in the base diary and this includes an estimation of the per cent of the island covered by snow. When I wrote the diary this evening, we were briefly at around 90% as it had snowed steadily for a couple of hours. But prior to that we had got down to about 10%, much higher than the same time in the 2019/20 season when we estimated it was less than 1%. We record the wind speed with a handheld anemometer, the highest recorded this season is 93km/h during a particularly severe storm that raged for almost 72 hours. This is soon to change though with the installation of a weather station almost complete. It will give us reliable, accurate data including temperature and wind speed and direction. Thanks to those who donated to our Green Match Fund campaign.
Pictured: A snowy Port Lockroy, Antarctica
It has been a strange season for weather, there was still a significant amount of snow on the island when we arrived mid-January and it has stayed with us far longer than I had previously experienced. We have also had several periods of stormy weather, with high winds and a mix of precipitation. This has no doubt been hard on the local wildlife. Previously we have had a number of sheathbills nesting under our buildings but so far we have only seen one chick emerge, although we feel sure there might be some late developers as there are a couple of other nests.
Weather, particularly snow cover and snow fall can affect the breeding cycle and productivity of these ground nesting birds in a number of ways, delaying nest building and egg laying, and reducing survival if prolonged bad weather hits while they are incubating eggs and small chicks. Even now with larger penguin chicks in creches we worry a little for them, when their soft down feathers get soaked through. But penguins are pretty resilient, we watch them shelter behind rocks or just hunker down in a slight depression in the ground and when the weather brightens, they shake themselves down and carry on, the hungry chicks now chasing their parents over the island in anticipation of another meal.
Lucy Dorman, Base Leader 2021 - 2022
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