When we started this blog we were about to go to Antarctica. Like so many research blogs we started off with the excitement of field work. But science is about a lot more than going to exciting places, and going to places like Antarctica takes an incredible amount of planning and preparations. We are headed back to Antarctica in December 2014, and had our first group planning meeting last week. Yep, that is about 8 months before we leave; between this first planning meeting for the cruise and actually leaving the dock are Easter, July 4th, Halloween, and Thanksgiving. Many things can be figured out in these intervening months, but for now, among other things, we are figuring out how many of every type of supply and equipment we will need for the month at sea. Doing this now helps with budgeting for supplies, and makes sure there are no surprises about equipment availability.
This year supply requests are a lot easier since we know how many of everything we brought last time, and whether it was too little, too much, or just right. We didn’t run out of anything last year, but it would have been nice to have a few more of some things, like big plastic bottles for holding seawater samples and krill food. Most things were Goldilocks-just-right amounts. One thing which I ordered a few (OK a lot) too many of was markers – as my lab mates like to tease me about. I have a tendency to grab a marker in the lab in the morning and put it in my pocket so I have it with me all day, but then in the evening I forget to put the marker back, so the result is that the markers slowly migrate from the lab to my cabin. I estimated that everyone would misplace one marker per day for the whole cruise – which equates to needing 600 markers! As it turns out I am amongst the worst marker-klepto’s of our science party, and we only ended up using about 50 of the markers. Don’t worry – the extra markers were put to good use by the next few groups of scientists. So this year – way fewer markers. But not too few – it’s not like I can just pop over to Staples if we run out of markers in Antarctica!