Antarctic Blog 30 March 2017

How to keep cool at the equator – Leg 4 from Cape Town to Europe

by Katrianne Lehtipalo

Position 0°0′S, 9°52′W

We crossed the equator early this morning. Everybody woke up at 5 am to stare at the GPS (it was completely dark, so there was nothing else to see).
Last seconds at the southern hemisphere
Since a few days now, the sun has been heating the walls of the red container (where our aerosol and gas measurements are located) so intensively that the air conditioner cannot keep up. Temperature inside the container, which, quote: “looks like a space station”, is alarmingly high, especially during afternoons. Even the night does not bring relief, as the air is hot and humid around the clock. We tried several innovative, but sadly inefficient, solutions to keep the temperature down (like shutting down some instruments, adding more fans and even bring ice to the container). Finally, we were allowed to borrow a portable AC from one of the other projects onboard. This seems like the best solution so far. Next time we have an equator-crossing campaign we should paint the container white.
The red aerosol container is baking hot
It is interesting to learn about the work of the other scientists, like marine biologists, onboard. Some are sampling phytoplankton, some studying micro-plastics in the ocean, and some are doing visual counting of flying fish (which are plentiful around these latitudes). Yesterday we helped in launching the first weather balloon of Leg 4. The Russian crew is also very helpful. We get porridge for breakfast, soup and a main course (usually meat) at the other meals. The Italians are not so convinced about the style of pasta, but otherwise we are well fed. We even have Swiss Chocolate!
Balloon launch on 29th March
Also the water temperature reached 30°C today. We cannot go swimming as we drive forward at a steady pace of about 13 knots. Instead, we have a sea-water shower for cooling down the scientists and crew after long work days or afternoon workout.
Sea-water shower is hugely popular among crew and scientists