Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Too cool plants!

Too cool plants!
As Bill said, we took a chair lift up a mountain just outside town yesterday to see the famous Martial glacier and practice research techniques we will use in Antarctica. There had been a great deal of snow, so it was hard to pick the glacier out of the blanket whiteness. The chill wind began to blow as we dangled from our chairs, but when we got off the lift, the trail was steep and most of us where shedding layers as we climbed.
Notable plants:
Nothofagus is the tree that helped establish the theory of plate techtonics! It grows on all of the fragments of old Gondwanaland. I like the pretty crimped leaflets.
The cushion plant: You can see why it called a cushion. It grows very slowly in the cold alpine ecosystem, but can reach hundreds of years of age. It actually retracts its roots in winter to keep them from freezing, I learned. This growth form is found all over the world in alpine conditions. Apparently, it can modify the local habitat so that a diversity of other plants can grow. It is warmer than surrounding vegetation; we measured with our techy heat sensor. Izzy found several insects and other invertebrates in it, too.

2 comments:

Rick J said...

Hi Katie,

I could guess from the title that this post was written by you! It's wonderful to visit Ushuaia through your eyes.

From the comfort of my office at UC Berkeley (someday maybe I'll make it to Patagonia!), I went online and found some more info and pictures:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_beech
http://flickr.com/search/?q=Nothofagus&w=all
http://www.tierradelfuego.org.ar/webcam/historial.php?fecha=200712&dia=18

Now you're off to sea. Here's to an amazing journey! Merry Christmas in Antarctica.

Rick

miengurl101 said...

Hey Mrs. Noonan!

It sounds like you're having lots of fun there and you're leaving on the cruise already! We had a lot of work to do while you were gone, but we tried. Be safe and stay warm for the trip! Have a nice vacation and tell us about it when you get back!



Tracy