Friday, December 14, 2007



December 15, 2007
McMurdo Antarctica

Time: 9 am
Latitude: 77° 49.98’ S
Longitude: 166° 49.10’ E
Temperature: 2 °C (36 °F)
Wind speed: 12 km/h (8mp/h)
Wind Chill: ~ -1 °C (31 °F)
Clouds: mostly cloudy
Wind direction: SE
Relative Humidity: 23%
Barometric Pressure: rising
Precipitation: 0

Life in McMurdo Station is very interesting. The Raytheon support staff work very hard 60 hours per week. The also play just as hard on their free time. I already mentioned that since it is Antarctica, and a storm could blow in at any time, the United States Antarctic Program (USAP) is very careful about who goes where, when, and how. If you have free time you can borrow/rent skis, climbing shoes, mountain bikes etc from the gear store but you can only use the equipment between McMurdo Station and Willey’s field airport – about 8 miles. You can not just ski anywhere due to crevasse dangers and potential storm/whiteout conditions. On a nice day you can ski the Castle Rock ski trail that took Sylvia, Anais, Gabby, John and I under 3 hours to ski. Or you can ski, run, or bike out to Willey’s field which takes about the same amount of time. You can also ride the 2-3 miles around Ob Hill or out to the Kiwi Scott Base. On station there are 3 places to go out in the evening to play billiards or darts, one bowling alley, one movie theatre, two climbing walls, and three gyms with weights and aerobic exercise machines. They also have unlimited movies and music on the TVs. Folks here also spend time on e-mail and the Internet and on an almost unlimited number of social get-togethers to do anything from play cards, to knit, to yoga, to almost anything that someone wants to organize. There is also a Chapel on station – Chapel of the Snows – that provides spiritual communion for a number of different religions. Antarctic support provides an opportunity for almost anyone interested in living and working in Antarctic to be a part of this program. There is every type of job here from hair cutters to barbers to cooks, and the list goes on. If you are over 21 (I think) and interested in working in Antactica then you should Google Raytheon Polar Services and find out about their job fairs. If anyone is interested in working in polar regions as a scientist then the route is a little different and involves working in college level science programs. There are outstanding programs available at many major universitites.

I had some exciting news yesterday afternoon. Ken put Anais and I on the fly list to get to the WAIS Divide camp today. That will leave Gabby, Sylvia, and John here to do the last of the packing and leave as soon as they can – maybe Monday. The organization to get out of McMurdo on a flight starts with going to “bag drag”. That means that you pack up all your personal gear again, drag it to a building where it is weighed and tagged and then jump on the scale with all your hand-carry items (lap tops etc) wearing your ECW gear. They flight crew needs to get the weight of every piece of cargo, including people and clothing, in order to fill a plane with the right amount of gear. Too much weight makes it dangerous for the planes to fly and land. Anais and I did bag drag at 7:30 in the evening yesterday to prepare for an 8 am flight to WAIS Divide. Fingers crossed but so far all the scheduled flights to WAIS Divide have been cancelled for the past two days. It is strange though since the weather here has been spectacular but the weather at the South Pole Station (we call it just Pole) and WAIS Divide camp are so crummy. I am very psyched to go as soon as possible and get on with our project though at the same time feel sorry for the three that need to stay and finish up here. They will be there soon enough I guess. Seems a little funny to want to rush out to the deep field and give up a dorm room and all this recreation intermixed with science/cargo work for my own tent and a ice core drill dome and ice core processing room that averages around
-20°F but I am really looking forward to getting there as soon as possible.

…..I got more news as I sat here writing today's blog entry- the flight was cancelled for this morning. Maybe later today but? Typically there are no flights on Sundays so it may be two more days before we get out. We are two flights behind and with the weather problems we have been having the Flight Ops (operations) might decide to get in there if the weather opens up anytime?

Today’s images are of - most of our team still here at McMurdo as we toured Scott’s Discovery Hut. From left to right ,
first row -Ken and Zach
second row- Sylvia, Gabby, Anais, Paul (from Ice Core Driling Services –ICDS- and on our drill team), John, and Nicolai (ICDS)
In the background is sea ice and a corner of Scott’s Discovery HUt


The other image is of a touch tank of sea critters here in the Crary Science building. These critters from the sea outside McMurdo and are part of someone’s research project. There are dozens and dozens of fabulous research projects going on here in Antarctica.

2 comments:

Mischmom said...

Zach,

Your blog entries are FABULOUS! I can tell that you are a fantastic teacher, for I am learning so much about Antarctica just from reading your "lessons" online!

Believe it or not, you have been having warmer weather than we are having here in central Illinois!

I hope you will be able to continue entering data and including photos while you are at the WAIS Divide camp. A big thank you for including some great pictures while you've been at McMurdo ... especially the one with the team members. Now, just tell John to step in front of your lens while on skis!!!! I'd love to see that!

WARM Regards!
Mischmom

Anna said...

To Zach:

Greetings from Maine. We're supposed to get a storm on Sunday. At least on the coast... and it's starting to get pretty cold. All my friends and I can't wait for Christmas break.

Each entry is kind of like an adventure. I keep having to remind myself that you're actually on bottom of the world doing things. I think it's so "cool!" Are there people who actually live in Antarctica year-round? Or is it just scientists?

When's the earlist you're hoping to start the ice drilling? I'm really excited to read and learn about how you take ice cores. I hope you made it to the camp alright.
By the way, I've been meaning to ask, will you be seeing any polar bears?!?! That would be awesome! I want to see a polar bear. It's really sad how global warming is effecting the animals of Antartica.

Thanks again for all the info, and keeping this blog. I really enjoy reading your entries daily, and I feel like I'm learning a lot!

Thanks So Much,
Anna