Wednesday, December 19, 2007

December 19, 2007
WAIS Divide camp Antarctica

Time: 10 am
Latitude: 79° 28.10’ S
Longitude: 112° 3.56’ W
Elevation: 1820 m (5919’ )
Temperature: -17 °C ( 2 °F)
Wind speed: 30 km/h (19 mp/h) gusts to 64km/h (40mp/h)
Wind Chill: ~ -27° C (-17 °F)
Clouds: clear –100’ visibility at WAIS Divide
Wind direction: NE
Relative Humidity: 80%
Barometric Pressure: falling
Precipitation: Blowing snow, basically whiteout conditions.

Ideally I would be recording the weather data at the same time each day but I have limited time here and since the sun is up 24 hrs and the wind keeps blowing snow the weather here has been relatively constant throughout the day.

Another night in the tent and though it was much windier I slept much better. I added a double stake system to the outside, upwind side of my tent which I think kept the tent form flapping as much as the night before. I also fell asleep listening to my ipod. This morning is more of the same – white on white (white snow blowing/falling on a white surface). It really an amazing place though and last night on my trip to the outhouse I could see the blue sky above and the ground snow storm below – probably the 10-20 meters (30 – 60 feet) above the ground. It was clear enough though to see a ring around the Sun and my first sun dogs this trip. Sun dogs are “bright” spots on the ring around the Sun caused by the refraction of the Sun light through the ice crystals in the atmosphere. They can be very impressive when are bright in a blue sky background.

We are scheduled to get a flight in from McMurdo tomorrow which will bring in our remaining ice core handlers,; Sylvia, Gabby, and John. On the way out will go some geophysics guys from Penn State University that have been here doing a GPS survey. One of their team members is a science teacher from Kansas named Brent- who says hello to his students and friends. Our Internet connection is still very sketchy and I am not able to upload to the blog on a regular basis but we will keep trying.

Most of the group is out working in the storm or in the drill dome still working on getting equipment put together. One of the assigned jobs here is as D1. A D1 is someone that shovels snow from the doorways of all the buildings to clear the entrance. They have real job security since 15 minutes after a doorway is cleared, it is drifted in again. The name D1 comes from the Caterpillar tractors we use here in Antarctica. The largest Cat tractors/bulldozer is a D10 with a blade bid enough to clear a 2-lane road with one swipe. A D1 then is the smallest Cat blade and really just a shovel handler by one of the crew. There are a lot of really important jobs here from electrician to D1s.

You can see from the weather data that it is going to be harder and harder to find my quadrat, much less record data from it as it gets buried by drifting snow.

I did do a little housekeeping in my tent last night and I hung my calendar, a piece of the Christmas tree that stands in my house in Maine, and a few family pictures. Since I am going to be here for another 5 weeks I might as well make it comfortable.


Paul Van B said...

What a great blog. My son Philip is out there with your folks as the team medic. He is enjoying the experience very much and has mentioned that he enjoys talking with the scientists who have arrived at the site. I understand that you are having a bit of bad weather. Stay warm and safe.

Sue said...


I'm curious about the storms that are taking place at the WAIS camp right now ... are they late spring storms or is this the type of weather that is constant at WAIS?

I'm patiently waiting to hear when my son, John, will catch a flight to WAIS. His flight has been cancelled so many times already.

Wishing you ALL a safe and productive stay at WAIS.


Brandon Gillette said...

Zach, it was a pleasure to meet you down at WAIS. I look forward to future work with you and your organization. Best of luck for the rest of the field season. I will certainly be checking in to see how things are going!

Teacher from KS