Thursday, December 13, 2007







December 13, 2007
McMurdo Antarctica

Time: 9 pm
Latitude: 77° 49.98’ S
Longitude: 166° 49.10’ E
Temperature: 2 °C ( 36 °F)
Wind speed: 8 km/h (5mp/h)
Wind Chill: ~ -1 °C ( 31 °F)
Clouds: clear
Wind direction: West
Relative Humidity: 20%
Barometric Pressure: steady
Precipitation: 0

McMurdo
still. Not that I am unhappy to be in this spectacular setting with
four meals a day, nice hikes, and terrific people, but a tent in the
middle of West Antarctica at the WAIS Divide camp would be really nice
right about now. Ken and the drilling engineers were bumped off two
flights today because the weather at WAIS camp is not good enough to let
the plane land so they are back with us for another day or two. As I
said, the weather here is still terrific but it seems not as nice at WAIS Divide camp. The word from WAIS
Divide camp is that things are progressing well there and that we
should try and get there as soon as we can so that we can help with the
last of the organization before they start drilling and collecting core.

Everyone here is well. We have definitely learned a lot
about each other in our days together and I still think that we will be
a great ice core processing team. Funny how each person has started to
fill a niche and we are learning to rely on each other forseparate
tasks. My new colleagues are all very qualified and intelligent
individuals and a blast to spend time with. You can learn more about
all the team members on the science web site - waisdivide.unh.edu

The
weather here is a little hard to take, for Antarctica. At or slightly
below freezing, blue sky, no clouds, and little wind. If I was home I
would think it was March and spring skiing. The are pools of water
forming on the sea ice on the most heavily used snowmobile roads and
water running all over the station forming little streams through the
think dusty volcanic surface. This whole of Ross Island is composed of
volcanic materials, compliments of Mt Erebus, and as the snow melts
away it becomes a very brown dusty dry almost desert landscape, with
the exception of the melt streams. I was even able to climb Ob Hill
today in a t-shirt and light jacket.Anais and I were on a scavenger hunt today looking for a power supply to take to the WAIS camp for one piece of her equipment and stopped to look at an automatic weather station map in the Crary Science Building and we could see that the temperatures at WAIS Divide camp are just slightly colder.

Today
we got a tour of Robert Falcon Scott’s Discovery hut. This hut was
built during Scott’s 1901-1904 National Antarctic (Discovery)
Expedition and is only a 15 minute walk from our dorm. It seems very
displaced next to “modern”McMurdo station. The hut has been left as it
was built and occupied over a hundred years ago. There are even still
items that Scott and his man used during this expedition hanging on the
walls inside the hut. Even penguins and seals that the expedition used
for food are well preserved in the intense dryness and cold. The NewZealand's Antarctic Heritage Trust (AHT) - www.heritage-antarctica.org/AHT/ -maintains the four huts of Captain Robert Falcon Scott, Sir Ernest Shackelton, and Carston Borchgrevink in the Ross Sea region of Antarctica, all relatively close to McMurdo
Station. Discovery was the first of the huts built on Scott’s first
trip to Antarctica. You need a guide to visit inside the hut but can
always just walk around outside. After seeing the condition of the
inside of the hut it is almost unbelievable that 35 men could survive a
year in a hut that I estimated to be only about 25’ by 25’. It was
expeditions like Scott’s that “broke” the ice barrier and initiated the
exploration of Antarctica. A lot of what we do here it built on what
was done over a hundred years ago.

The three images are of the continually browning McMurdo Station with Observation Hill in the background, and Scott's Discovery hut inside and out.

We have heard from many friends and students through our home e-mails about this blog. Thanks for all your well wishes and questions. It is great to have you all onboard. I encourage everyone to also comment on the blog which will give us a better idea of where all our readers are from and their particular interests in this ice coring project. Please tell your friends to join us throughout the research project. Thanks

2 comments:

Wild_MT said...

Must be difficult to know that the WAIS Divide camp is just over the horizon. Has the weather been stormy? What happens if you get stuck in McMurdo for a long period of time? Can you do any of your work from there? What happens if a plane can't get to the WAIS Divide camp to bring you back to McMurdo? Have people been stuck in the field for long periods of time?

zach said...

Hi Wild,
Let us hope that we are not stuck on either end for too long. Last time I was here I was grounded in McMurdo for two weeks and only delayed one day in the field on the way out. If we are stuck on either end for extra time, which could happen, we make the best of it and accomplish what work we can.