Wednesday, December 19, 2007

December 18, 2007
WAIS Divide camp Antarctica

Time: 9 pm
Latitude: 79° 28.10’ S
Longitude: 112° 3.56’ W
Elevation: 1820 m (5919’ )
Temperature: -15 °C ( 2 °F)
Wind speed: 30 km/h (19 mp/h) gusts to 48km/h (30mp/h)
Wind Chill: ~
Clouds: clear –100’ visibility at WAIS Divide
Wind direction: W
Relative Humidity: 78%
Barometric Pressure: falling
Precipitation: Blowing snow, basically whiteout conditions.

Now I know how well (and how loud) an Arctic Oven tent holds up at “night”. It held up to 19 mph winds with gusts to 30 mph but it was a lot louder than the dorm in McMurdo. Today I will add a few more tie-downs to my tent and maybe it will shake a little less. I might also consider ear plugs. Other than the noise the tent is quite comfortable. Lots of room for one person and gear and with my -40 F sleeping bag I was toasty all night. I had to get up to go to the outhouse once during the night but it was more a chance to walk around outside at night (remember it is still 24 hours of light) in the blowing snow. Takes a bit of work to get redressed each time but part of the game around here. Looks like everyone else is settled in and in a day or two I will be right at home here in these conditions. Today I am on construction detail and will assist in putting together more of the equipment needed to process the ice cores. Geoff Hargreaves is the curator at the National Ice Core laboratory (NICL) in Denver Colorado and he is here in the field with us to put everything together and oversee the ice core packaging. NICL is the national repository for ice cores drill all over the world by US science projects. It stores ice cores and provides the facilities for scientists to come and process their ice cores into pieces that they will use in their research. Once the WAIS Divide ice cores are drilled they are put into trays and run through the processing line here in the field. Mostly that involves bagging, labeling, and storing the cores.

Today most of us spent the day in the drill dome which is between -25 C and -10 C (-13 F and 14 F) putting together equipment that we will need once we start collecting ice cores.

More tomorrow but the forecast is for continued whiteout conditions so it may be a slow day at work.

The only science investigations that are taking place here on site are the DEP (Dielectic Profile which measures the annual cycle of chemical species), down hole temperature measurement, and physical properties. The DEP uses an electrical current to measure the amount of “stuff” in the ice. The stuff can be volcanic particles or dust and help to date the ice core among other things. The physical properties work is to identify some layers and to also provide dating. Some of the ice cores are fairly solid and some are very brittle. The brittle ones will actually be stored here under the snow in a hollowed out freezer which should give them time to equalize with the surface atmosphere. The deep layers of ice are under increasing pressure with depth and often pop and crack when brought to the surface.

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