Thursday, January 31, 2008

January 31st, 2008

Time: 7 am
Latitude: 42.40338 N
Longitude: 71.11346 W
Temperature: -2°C(29°F)
Wind speed: 15 km/h (9 mph)
Wind Chill: -6°C(20°F)
Clouds: clear
Wind direction: W
Relative Humidity:41%
Barometric Pressure: rising
Precipitation: -
Animals: 1 dog, 4 rabbits, 9 chickens, 1 rooster
Breakfast: fresh backyard egg, toast, coffee

Well I am back in my office with mixed emotions. Happy to be home but there is always a transition period from being in the field to having to drive a car and go to a grocery store. I will get over it just long enough to start preparing for my next trip.

As I think back and relate parts of my adventure to my family, a few things come to mind. One is the amount of energy, creativity, and professionalism of my colleagues. Not that my office mates are not the most creative people I know but to live 24/7 with a group like we had at WAIS Divide camp is hard to find. Not all of the creativity was directed for the benfit of our science though but often it was directed by our science. One of the things I did not talk a lot about was the ubiquitous Antarctic humor required to live with each other for the last 2 months. On the morning shift we tried to see how much we could make the morning shift drillers laugh by placing notices on the window between the drilling and ice processing portions of the arch. The themes were naturally dictated by the job and the conditions. Many of these could have become outhouse graffiti, and maybe still will....

WAIS not want not
An ice core in the barrel is worth two in the hole
It is better to have cored and lost than never to have cored at all.
I core, you core, we all core an ice core
Gone ice fishing
I break for ice cores
Practise safe coring
All ice cores are not created equal
In case of emergency break ice
I'd rather be coring (preferably in a warm place)


As I reconnect with colleagues and friends many of them have asked me how "bad" things really are in terms of global climate change. The data we collected on WAIS DIvide this season will not even be analyzed for months and or years as the ice still needs to be fully processed in the US after it arrives here this summer on the boat from Antarctica. So no one can give an answer to how bad things are based on the ice core we collected this year. Though, based on everything we know from the science at this point, there is no doubt that there is human induced climate change happening. The way we conduct ourselves for the next couple of generations will determine how bad things get. Anyone not sure how much energy they use in relationship to others should do a web search for a "global footprint calculator", of which there are many available. These footprint calculators will allow you to input your energy use and calculate how many Earths it takes to support your lifestyle. It is takes more than one Earth then there are probably things you might do to reduce your use. For help on reducing your energy use there are a number of sites now that provide information/services. One such group is Cool Air -Clean Planet http://www.cleanair-coolplanet.org/ who is also linked from our outreach web site as a terrific source for educational materials for school, businesses, and individuals.

Wage Peace, and environmental sustainability

Tuesday, January 29, 2008



January 29th, 2008

Time: 7 am
Latitude: 43.08 N
Longitude: 70.73 W
Temperature: -12°C(10°F)
Wind speed: calm
Wind Chill: -
Clouds: clear
Wind direction: -
Relative Humidity:56%
Barometric Pressure: falling
Precipitation: - light snow
Animals: 1 dog, 4 rabbits, 9 chickens, 1 rooster
Breakfast: fresh backyard egg, toast, coffee

When I left home back in the beginning of December it was 40°F, this morning it is 10°F, which is still not very cold and not very different than the middle of West Antarctica.

After 37 hours of planes, trains, and automobiles I arrived home this morning at 2 am. And I arrived home on the day I left. I left my beach front hideout in New Zealand at 10 am on January 28th and arrived home on January 29th at 2 am. If you do the math you will see that there are not 37 hours between 10 am and 2 am the next day, but since I crossed the International Date Line I gained a day traveling. I still had to sit for 37 hours but I only "lost"14 hours. The first at the door to greet me this morning was my dog. I guess she had it marked on her calendar because I was told that she has been at the door waiting since yesterday morning. Maybe it was the added excitement in everyone's voice that cued her into my pending arrival, or she did in fact have it marked on her calendar. As you can see from the current animal list there were no birds chirping this morning to greet me and they are all domestic residents of my backyard. I must have awoken them at 2 am this morning when I arrived but they were not as excited to see me, in fact they were pretty much neutral about the whole thing and were just happy that anyone fed them this chilly morning.

If you also do the math between my arrival home time and the blog entry time you will see that I did not get much sleep last night. Actually I got very little sleep for the 37 hours of traveling either. My ability to sleep while sitting up on planes and buses is not good. So, among basic chores today like chopping wood, stowing gear, cleaning clothes, and catching up on anything I missed for the two months that I was gone, I have scheduled a long nap for this afternoon. Though instead of the veranda at my secret New Zealand beach spot (which was only little over a day ago) I will be napping indoors in front of the wood stove.

Today's image is the view from my New Zealand beach still fresh in my mind, especially as I look out the window over the D1 operating that needs to be done here at home.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

January 28, 2008
Still an undisclosed secret location (on a beach) in New Zealand, no mater what the latitude and longitude says

Time: 5 am
Latitude: 43_ 31.742’ S
Longitude: 172_ 37.846’ E
Elevation: ~60 m (180’)
Temperature: 20_C (68 _F)
Wind speed: calm
Wind Chill: -
Visibility: forever
Clouds: very few strato-cumulus
Wind direction: -
Relative Humidity: 70% ?
Barometric Pressure: steady
Precipitation: -
Animals: gulls, bees, moths, spiders, cats, black swans, dolphins, sparrows, sheep
Breakfast: Tea, Croissant, cold cereal
Lunch: Fish and Chips
Supper: Cheese, crackers, canned fish – standard backpacker’s meal

I am still at my lodgings in New Zealand and using it as a base for exploring. The view from here is still spectacular and warm enough to sleep with the windows open with no additional blanket. At home we also have a bedroom window open at night (even in winter) but here, not only are the windows open but there are no bothersome flying insects. There are a couple of locations here in New Zealand that have biting sand flies (like a New England Black Fly) but none here. The area where I am has a large marine sanctuary so the dolphins, and other marine life, are protected. There are a number of dolphins here that might even be attracted to “play” if they are in the right mood. Dolphins tour boats and swims are very common here in New Zealand along with tours to see yellow-eyed and blue penguins. I did see dolphins but I did not see penguins here in New Zealand or in Antarctica this year. Guess I will have to come back and try again. The trekking around here is super and today I walked through everything from high ridges to beaches to small touristy towns to grasslands filled with grazing sheep. One could easily have fish and chips for lunch in a small town and end up either gazing across the ocean from a top a ridge line or sitting on a deserted beach and watching dolphin cruise by.


From where I am it is only a few mile to the ocean proper and I feel like I am living on the edge of an ancient fjord. The terrain is high and steep and some of the cliff faces drop hundreds of meters (a thousand feet) into the water. The water here is also reported to be a 1000 m (3,000 ‘) deep. The views are spectacular from the high points on the ridge trail, where I hiked to yesterday. I would post a picture of the view from the ridge line but no photo can possibly do justice to sitting on the top of a steep rocky ridge with friends enjoying snacks and looking out over the ocean and the “fjord” to the water that is hundreds of meters (thousand feet) below. There is brilliant sunshine, little wind, and unlimited views until far out into the ocean where the Earth curves away. I also learned that New Zealand has about 50 million sheep and they are everywhere. All the trek routes I have followed are also free range land for sheep. There are a few milk cows and cattle but mostly sheep. The sheep oblige trekkers by keeping the weeds and grass chewed down. There are not many trees here. All of the forests I have seen are managed forests and were planted only in the last 20-40 years ago. Most sit out like carpet swatches laid out over the hills surrounded by grasslands, and sheep. The day was truly spectacular and I think I picked up a bit more sunburn from being out and about with little shade or cover but it was well worth it to see all the things I have seen.

Saturday, January 26, 2008


January 27, 2008
Undisclosed secret location (on a beach) in New Zealand

Time: 5 am
Latitude: 43_ 31.742’ S
Longitude: 172_ 37.846’ E
Elevation: ~60 m (180’)
Temperature: 20_C (68 _F)
Wind speed: calm
Wind Chill: -
Visibility: forever
Clouds: very few strato-cumulus
Wind direction:
Relative Humidity: 70% ????
Barometric Pressure:-
Precipitation: -
Animals: gulls, bees, moths, spiders, cats, hundreds of black swans, and dolphins- hopefully later today
Breakfast: Tea, so far
Lunch:
Supper:

I apologize for not getting to the blog yesterday and potentially keeping everyone in suspense at a critical moment when we were getting off the “ice”, but it could not have been helped. Our flight actually did leave McMurdo though a little later than scheduled – about 10 pm. For most of the time between 6 pm and 10 pm that day we were standing on the “tarmac” at the Pegasus airstrip on the seas ice outside McMurdo. We had to wait for a C-17 to land, off load people and cargo, and have us and our cargo loaded. A C-17 is much nicer than a C-130 with much more room to stretch out. We were even given a chance to go up to the cockpit as we were flying out to Christchurch. I was very lucky and managed to be in the cockpit as we flew over the ice margin and saw the transition from the terrestrial glaciers, the sea ice, and the open ocean. The ~5 hr trip was uneventful and we (~100 people) landed at 3 am in Christchurch. We then were taken to the CDC (Clothing Distribution Center) where we returned our ECW (Extreme Cold Weather) gear, given our travel tickets back to the US, and allowed to leave for hotels in Christchurch. By the time I arrived at my hotel it was 5 am and I was in my bed asleep by 5:30.

I did not have any room reservations for the next few days in NZ, and there was a music concert going on in town which packed town, so I got up at 8 am for breakfast to try and find an available room for the next few nights. After a few phone calls and Internet searches I found that there was little available in Christchurch. I had looked at the map of NZ before leaving Antarctica and did see that there were a number of fantastic-looking spots to visit. So, I found a bus going to a secluded ocean front town located only a few hours form Christchurch and there I found a room available at a B & B (Bed & Breakfast). I did a quick walk around the outdoor arts festival also going on in Christchurch, had lunch, and made the bus in time for a very scenic drive through the NZ countryside. After having only 2 hours sleep in the last 36+ hours I was a little tired but managed to stay awake for most of the long bus ride. When we arrived I was thrilled to find this isolated beach-front community of ~500 people (without tourists) with a few shops and restaurants. The owner of the B & B picked me up in town at the bus drop-off and drove me to a cup of tea on the veranda of her home over looking the bay through a plethora of lovely garden flowers. After 2 months with few colors and aromas other than ourselves and hot cooked meals, I immediately fell in love with my new location and managed to sit in one place in a comfy chair on the veranda for hours until I made my way back down to town for some delicious fish and chips. I did wake up a couple times in the night but had a great sleep and enjoyed every bit of the darkness that I now realized I so missed. It is now before dawn and I am back on the veranda composing today’s blog with yet another cup of tea and the sights, sounds, and smells of an ocean community waking up to another day. It is also the first time I have seen the moon in months and I am sitting here waiting for Sunrise in shorts, a long sleeved shirt, and NO shoes.

Last night there was an evening gathering of any of our group still in Christchurch, which I am sorry I had to miss because of last minute travel arrangements, but I am very very content to be here, now. I met some wonderful people at WAIS Divide camp and I will be talking to and seeing many of them in the near future, so they are not lost to me. If any of them, especially those that I did not get a chance to say good-bye to are reading this, thanks and I wish you good travels - Via con Dios.

To them and you, I will continue to write this blog as often as possible until I get back to work at my job as program coordinator at the Wright Center for Science Education at Tufts University. We have plans to provide a workshop for teachers in Glacier Park Montana USA this July with information and classroom appropriate materials about the WAIS Divide ice coring project. Though we can not bring you to Antarctica and our ice core drilling project directly we can take you to the glaciers on the US and through them virtually bring you to Antarctica. International educators and individuals interested in applying for the workshop and/or more information about educational materials developed with the WAIS Divide ice coring project in mind should go to www.tufts.edu/as/wright_center and available through links from the projects science web site at www.waisdivide.unh.edu
New information will be added often. The ice core drilling program will continue for the next 3-5 years so please continue to check back as I return home back to the US and over the next few years. Each year there will be some returning people along with a new cast of “characters”.

For now, the Sun is about to rise over the ridge, the birds are in full chorus, birds are starting to fly, bees are buzzing at the nectar in the flowers, and I need another cup of tea. Thanks so much for following along with us. I have enjoyed writing this science travel log and talking with many of you on the blog, through my personal e-mail, and during direct calls from WAIS Divide camp to many school classrooms. Many more of you I will see at teacher, student, and community presentations/professional meetings over the next couple months. Enjoy wherever you are and help to keep it the fantastic corner of the world it is.

Thursday, January 24, 2008





January 25, 2008
McMurdo Antarctica

Time: 10 am
Latitude: 77° 50 S
Longitude: 166° 49.10’ E
Elevation: 34 m (112’)
Temperature: -3°C (7 °F)
Wind speed: 33 km/h (21 mp/h)
Wind Chill: -25°C (-12°F)
Visibility: mostly cloudy, low ceiling
Clouds: stratus
Wind direction: SSE
Relative Humidity: 63%
Barometric Pressure: falling
Precipitation: - occasional flurries
Animals: 24 Skuas, dozens of Weddell seals in McMurdo - including pups, no penguins yet, 1 whale sighting
Breakfast: eggs, bagels, juice, coffee
Lunch: mac and cheese
Supper: lamb, potatoes, mixed veggies, pumpkin pie
**Since we are in McMurdo there are four or five entrees at every meal


We did our bag drag last night to prepare for our flight today. Bag drag means that we took all our gear, except of ECW
gear (Extreme Cold Weather) and one carry-on bag to be weighed and
packaged for the flight. The pilots need to know exactly how much
weight they will be flying with on every flight around and to/from
Antarctica. Once we weighed our gear we gave it up to the baggage folks
to package and ship out to the runway for loading. We kept our
toiletries, one set of town clothes, and ourECW gear out to use until
the flight. If the flight is canceled we need to have clothes to wear
until the flight does go, whenever that is. We will not see our checked
bags again until we land in Christchurch New Zealand. The temperature
in town (and onthe flight) is relatively warm but we are required to have our ECW gear with us most of the time.

The rest of the day we will spend writing, walking around McMurdo,
napping, reading, playing cribbage, or just hanging-out until we leave
for Willy’s Field and our plane. We will take a C-17 back to New
Zealand instead of the C-130 we take around Antarctica. The C-17s have
a little more room with comfortable seats than the C-130s. It will
still be a 5 + hour flight “off the ice” and we will not arrive until
late, possibly even Saturday morning. We are taken to theUSAP Clothing
Distribution Center (CDC) where we will return the clothing and gear we
were issued for the program and then we will be released to wander off
and explore NZ and/or return home. It will be even later that morning
when we finally get to our hotels and recover from the late flight.
Rumor is that there is aBon Jovi concert in Christchurch so it might be an exciting weekend in town with all the additional tourists.

I
still have not seen any penguins though I did find a flock of Skua and
many more seals. The day started very nice but soon turned very
blustery and cancelled any hope of a big hike today to the top of
Castle Rock. Another trip to Hut Point and up Ob Hill were all the
outdoor activities I was able to accomplish.

The images I have for you today are a photo of an old time photo of McMurdo taken during a very early expedition (this image hangs in the galley) and a picture of McMurdo taken this last December 2007. Both are taken from Hut Point looking back towards Ob Hill. In the old McMurdo picture you can see three sailing ships in McMurdo harbor with Ob hill in the background. In the modern picture you can see the station as it exists today.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008



January 24, 2008
McMurdo Antarctica

Time: 10 am
Latitude: 77° 50’ S
Longitude: 166° 49.10’ E
Elevation: 34 m (112’)
Temperature: -4°C (24°F)
Wind speed: 24 km/h (15 mp/h)
Wind Chill: -11°C (13 °F)
Visibility: 7 miles but overcast, low ceiling
Clouds: stratus
Wind direction: SE
Relative Humidity: 74%
Barometric Pressure: rising
Precipitation: - light snow
Animals: 6 Skuas, dozens of Weddell seals in McMurdo, including pups, no penguins yet, 1 whale sighting
Breakfast: omelets, French toast, sausage
Lunch: burritos
Supper: mac and cheese, turkey potpie
**Since we are in McMurdo there are four or five entrees at every meal

Yesterday felt like chore day. I went to the New Zealand Scott Base to look in their store and rode in the shuttle with the 109th Airlift Wing NY National Guard (http://www.dmna.state.ny.us/ang/109/109.php) pilots who flew us in to McMurdo the day before and were on their way back to WAIS
Divide to collect a few more of our friends. The weather was
deteriorating yesterday but this morning I met a couple of our folks at breakfast
and learned that indeed they were lucky to get out because of clouds.
Later during the day,I also went to see the person in charge of travel arrangements, checked my mail,
and ran down to Hut Point to look in the open water leads for penguins
– there were none there at the time. Hut Point is very nearby McMurdo
central where Robert Falcon Scott and his men built a hut on one of
their early expeditions to Antarctica. I wrote about it in an earlier
blog. When I got there, also touring that hut were members of the
Norwegian-US Traverse of East Antarctica http://traverse.npolar.no This
project is an ice coring traverse of East Antarctica. The US researcher
on the project, Dr Mary Albert, works at Dartmouth College and the Cold
Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory in Hanover, NH
http://www.crrel.usace.army.mil/. I happen to know her from my earlier
experience in Antarctica. Funny to see people in Antarctica whom you
know that live and work only a few hours away from your home. The drilling
organization on that project is also Ice Coring and Drilling Services (ICDS)
http://www.ssec.wisc.edu/icds and their driller and our drillers had a
lot to talk about at supper last night. Since the principle
investigator of ICDS, Dr Charlie Bentley, is in town with us there was a reunion of sorts as well lots of “shop” talk. The members of Norwegian-US traverse are also flying out to New Zealand with us tomorrow (fingers crossed).


The rest of the day I spent catching up with letters and “thinking about “
(I hesitate to say planning since we are not even off the ice yet) the
few days I will spend in New Zealand “recovering” from my days here on
the ice before the long flight back to Maine. As I have mentioned
before, many of our folks will be spending weeks and months touring New
Zealand and the world after they leave here but I only have a day or
two before getting back to family and work.

Today I will
continue to look for penguins in the open water leads. I have stopped
counting Weddell seals as there are dozens and dozens of these 500 lb “sea
slugs” all around the open water at McMurdo. I still have not seen any Skua (sea
gulls) but I know they are here somewhere.

Today’s images are of the
ice breaker opening up the sea ice to make it possible for the resupply
ship to land, possibly by Monday. And an image of good ole’ Mac Town (McMurdo Station). Transitioning back to McMurdo
and its dirty streets, buildings, and traffic is a difficult adjustment
after being in the middle of West Antarctica for over a month.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008



January 23, 2008
McMurdo Antarctica

Time: 10 am
Latitude: 77° 50’ S
Longitude: 166° 49.10’ E
Elevation: 34 m (112')
Ice core: done driling for this season at final depth of 580 m (1,740’)
Temperature: -9°C ( 15 °F)
Wind speed: 13 km/h (8 mp/h)
Wind Chill: -
Visibility: unlimited
Clouds: minimal mid level stratus, alto cumulus, mostly cloudy.
Wind direction: E
Relative Humidity: 40%
Barometric Pressure: falling
Precipitation: - 0
Animals: 6 Skuas, 20 Weddell seals (all in McMurdo), I have not looked for penguins yet but the ice breaker is in and there are water leads so there should be penguins?
Breakfast: coffee
Lunch:
Supper:

Well folks, we made it. We are back in McMurdo
and still, this morning, very bleary eyed. We landed about 1 am and
made it to our dorm rooms by 2 am. The strangest thing is waking up in
a dark room instead of a yellow tent. It was a long and noisy trip in
our C-130 and I did not sleep a wink. From what little I saw out the
tiny portal windows on the plane it was cloudy across the whole of the
West Antarctic ice sheet and though I am not that excited to be one of
the first ones out, I am happy that we got out when we did. You just
never know what will happen with the weather, which was spectacular and
clear when we left. As seasons change around the world, the last couple
days seemed to have turned a corner with the weather atWAIS Divide. I am sure that this is an over statement but since we have seen fair weather for the last couple days in a row at WAIS Divide it sure seems like a change in the weather. Though I am sitting in McMurdo
and it is “warm” compared to where I was yesterday and it is hard not
to feel real change. I am also going to be in New Zealand in a few days
and my thoughts are moving towards summer sports and being outdoors –
which I realize will be dashed once I get back to Maine in a week and
40+ inches of snow on the ground.

Since it is early in the
morning, I just got up, and I am still a lot shocked by being back in
“town” and the warmth, number of people, and the many buildings, my
mind has not kicked back into gear. I am going to stop writing for
today and leave you with my last memory ofWAIS and our group picture.
As far as I remember everyone in camp at the time is in the picture. It
is a small image here on the web but you may still be able to pick out
friends, family, and correspondents (I am the fourth in from the left,
second row). Time to find the galley and its unlimited food, and
coffee. I have to cleanup, repack gear and review my data from the
field. I left my 3dquadrat and one data logger at WAIS which we will collect next season.

I will be continuing this blog until I have arrived home in a week, and most certainly the outreach for the WAIS
Divide ice coring program for the future. For additional information
and images please go to our science site which also links to additional
outreach-education at waisdivide.unh.edu. More later-

Monday, January 21, 2008



January 22, 2008
WAIS Divide camp Antarctica -Still!!!!!

Time: 6 am
Latitude: 79° 28.10’ S
Longitude: 112° 3.56’ W
Elevation: 1820 m (5919’)
Ice core: ~ 580m ( 1,740’) ~ before 400 BC - coring completed
Temperature: -16°C (2°F)
Wind speed: 0-5 km/h (0-3 mp/h)
Wind Chill: -22°C (-8°F)
Visibility: 10 km (7 miles)
Clouds: minimal low-mid level stratus
Wind direction: NE
Relative Humidity: 76%
Barometric Pressure: steady
Precipitation: - 0
Animals: 6 Skuas, 20 Weddell seals (all in McMurdo)
Breakfast: eggs, home fries, juice, coffee
Lunch: BBQ beef sandwiches, carrot-mushroom loaf, hash browns, green salad
Supper: Sweet potatoes, rice, chicken, tofu

Well,
the day started bright and calm and all seemed right. I started to pack
gear and remained optimistic about the flight. I spent the morning
downloading other folks images and organizing and volunteered for House
Mouse since I now have a casual schedule. The only thing really left to
do was take down my to take down my tent and hang it to dry in the
science jamesway . While I was on washing dishes from breakfast on House
Mouse, the announcement came over the radio that for some unexplained
reason the flight was canceled. The next two songs on the galley
stereo were “I got to get out of this place” by the Animals, and “Hotel
California” by the Eagles. Coincidence? I think not. Strange Karma –
that cosmic sense of humor? Probably not that either. It is just the
way things work here in Antarctica – on Antarctica time and nothing
that you could ever schedule. So, here I am in WAIS camp for at least
one more day. The only tough consequence is that there are only a few
planes to New Zealand, and one is Tuesday night. The chances of
actually getting out of here and getting straight on the NZ flight is
less than the chance that a plane will still show-up here today - which
is very very low. No worries, we just hangout here and McMurdo a few extra day(s). There is a plane scheduled for today
in the late evening so there is plenty of chance for something else
unexplained or explained like weather to get in the way of this flight.
Always an opportunity though to learn something else about this place
or the people here and who knows, maybe today the weather will be even
better or the views of the flat white surface will be more spectacular?
For right now though I am leaving my tent up.

Here is what happens when flights are delayed and the natives get restless. Actually just kidding, this image is of Dr Charles Bentley and Rebecca in a friendly arm wrestling match. Probably over who ate the last of the popcorn. Who do you think won? Especially with the ~60 year age difference.

Sunday, January 20, 2008



January 21, 2008
WAIS Divide camp Antarctica

Time: 6 am
Latitude: 79° 28.10’ S
Longitude: 112° 3.56’ W
Elevation: 1820 m (5919’)
Ice core: 580 m (1,740) ~~ 450 BC
Temperature: -12°C (11°F)
Wind speed: 0-2 km/h (0-1 mp/h)
Wind Chill: -12°C (11°F)
Visibility: 10 km (7 miles)
Clouds: minimal mid level stratus, mostly sunny
Wind direction: N
Relative Humidity: 73%
Barometric Pressure: steady
Precipitation: - 0
Animals: 6 Skuas, 12 Weddell seals (all in McMurdo)
Breakfast: leftovers
Lunch: leftovers
Supper: leftovers


Fingers
are still crossed but it actually nice out ("warm", calm, and sunny)and
our flight is still on for this afternoon. Yesterday, the thought of
really leaving was a little strange but today with this weather it
seems too good to be true. The way I am scheduled is I only have to
spend one day inMcMurdo and then I am off to New Zealand and home. The
shift after ours drilled our last core at about 5pm and then shut down
operations. It is time for me and others to pack gear and everyone else
to pack up the camp. To celebrate, we had a little party last night and
made it our last night together for some of us. The last staff will not
leave here foranother 2 weeks but by that time I will be back in the
office at work. Packing up the camp is very important so that it is
placed up on snow berms to prevent too much drifting and burying by the
snow over the winter. The arch will also be secured but there will
undoubtedly be lots of frost and spin drift that collects inside over the winter. Much of the arch equipment will also be left in place to survive the potential -60 oC winter temperatures. In preparartion for the flight out today, I took a shower yesterday and tried to get my gear in order. It will take me another couple hours to find all my stuff and take down my tent. I really do not have that much gear, nor are there many places to find it except in the corners of my tent, but I just need to check items to make sure everything is there. If will be tough to retrive anything that I forget.

The only appropriate
photos to add to today is a group shot, but that has not happened yet
so I will load it as soon as I can. Maybe later tonight from McMurdo. The photo I do have up for today is actually a picture of camp looking out the Twin Otter window from almost a month ago. I will fly on a C-130, and not a Twin Otter, to go back to McMurdo today but I will not have a window to see out of so I thought that I would use this image as my substitute parting shot.

Saturday, January 19, 2008



January 20, 2008
WAIS Divide camp Antarctica

Time: 6 am
Latitude: 79° 28.10’ S
Longitude: 112° 3.56’ W
Elevation: 1820 m (5919’)
Ice core: ~ 555 m ( 1,665') ~300 BC (yesterday's depth was over estimated)
Temperature: -17°C (1°F)
Wind speed: 0-7 km/h (0-4 mp/h)
Wind Chill: -23°C (-10°F)
Visibility: 10 km (7 miles)
Clouds: low-mid level stratus, mostly sunny -believe it or not
Wind direction: N/NNE
Relative Humidity: 80%
Barometric Pressure: steady
Precipitation: - 0
Animals: 6 Skuas, 12 Weddell seals (all in McMurdo)
Breakfast: eggs, sausage, corn muffins (one of the best muffins ever)
Lunch: Burritos, chicken and veggi
Supper: SALAD, and some other good stuff


Though I have been keeping close track of our time here, it is suddenly almost over. I am not sure how the time pasted so quickly but Gabby, John, a few others and I am on the list to fly out of WAIS camp Monday. If all goes well, and the weather holds, we could be in and out of McMurdo in a day and in New Zealand by Tuesday night. I do not like not to be one of the first ones out while there is still work to do but I guess I will take the flight when I can get them – I am certainly looking forward to seeing my family very soon. At home there is a lot to do, including my favorite D1 operating (shoveling), sledding, and also a couple of telemark races/festivals that my family and I will attend. I am sure that the wood pile is also getting low so plenty of chores to catch up on.

More happy news around camp, we had another C-130 plane land this morning. We traded about 10 science and staff folks and some ice cores for salad. Now understand, I really like the folks that left but this is only the second time we have seen salad since mid December. All joking aside, we really enjoyed having fresh lettuce, spinach, cucumbers, and tomatoes for supper. And, it is also sunny and one of the nicest days we have had in a long time. It is tough to have to work inside on beautiful days, including in the middle of West Antarctica. The day was so nice that the snow pit we dug weeks ago and used for filming was opened up as a tour destination for camp staff lead by Trevor. The snow layers were so illuminated today by the sunshine that you could easily see many of the features we see being created on the snow surface these past couple weeks. For example, one of the two images today are of wave forms that are created on the surface by the erosion and deposition of snow created by the wind. In the surface image, the wind is blowing from the left to right. The other image is of “fossil” wave forms that were created last summer by the wind and now buried ½ meter under the surface and illuminated in the snow pit wall. In the “fossil” wave forms, to which the arrows are pointing, the wind also blew from left to right. It is very exciting to see features formed to day that we can use to understand the features we see buried under the snow. And in this case, that the predominate wind direction during both years was left to right (which is a West wind here).

Yesterday I introduced you to a couple of our international folks and today I have one more, this time in French-

Salut ! Je m’appelle Anaïs Orsi, et je m’occupe des carottes une fois qu’elles sortent du carottier. Je les mesure, note les détails particuliers, compte les cassures éventuelles et les emballe pour les envoyer au laboratoire national des carottes de glace (NICL, National Ice Core Lab, on prononce “nickel”), à Denver, au milieu des Etats Unis. Au NICL, les carottes vont être découpées en échantillons et être réparties entre les différents laboratoires aux quatre coins du pays. C’est comme ça qu’un jour, le facteur va sonner a ma porte et dire « les carottes sont arrivées ! », et je commencerai l’analyse dans mon labo, à Scripps Institution of Oceanography, à San Diego. Comme la plupart des autres manipulateurs de carottes, je suis doctorante en climatologie, et je travaille sur les carottes de glaces. Si je n’étais pas venue, j’aurais toujours pu recevoir mes échantillons et les analyser, mais c’est intéressant de voir comment on creuse les carottes, et ce qui leur arrive entre le moment où elles sortent de la glace et le moment où elles arrivent à la porte de mon labo. Bien sûr, c’est sympa de pouvoir voir à quoi WAIS ressemble, de se rendre du temps qu’il fait, etc. J’ai profité du fait de venir pour faire une autre petite expérience : j’ai mesuré la température dans un trou de 300m creusé en 2005. La glace conserve la température qu’il faisait quand elle s’est formée. Le signal s’atténue avec le temps, mais on peut voir les changements climatiques à longe échelle. Un jour, avec cette méthode, nos arrière petits-enfants pourront sûrement voir le changement climatique actuel : rien qu’en introduisant un thermomètre dans un trou dans la glace…
Je suis vraiment contente d’être ici, à WAIS divide. Faire des mesures sur le terrain est une partie importante de mes recherches, et j’ai besoin de tout le reste de l’année pour analyser les échantillons de glace que je vais recueillir. En plus, il y a plein de choses amusantes à faire ici, la neige par exemple, a une constitution parfaite pour la sculpture ! J’essaie d’apprendre comment les choses marchent ici, pour qu’un jour, je puisse organiser ma propre expédition polaire.

Hi! My name is Anaïs Orsi. I am a core handler here, which means that, as soon as the ice core gets out of the drill, I measure it, mark it, count the eventual breaks and pack it to be sent to the National Ice Core Lab in Denver. In NICL, the core will be cut into many samples, which in turn will be sent to different laboratories across the US. So, one day, Fedex will knock at my door and say “the ice cores are here!” and I’ll start analyzing it in my lab, at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, in San Diego. Like other core handlers, I’m actually a graduate student working on ice cores. Even if I hadn’t come, I could still get the samples in my lab, but it’s interesting to see how cores are drilled and what happens to them during the process. Of course, it’s also cool to see what it looks like here in WAIS divide, what the weather is like, etc. I took advantage of my coming here to do another small project: I measured the temperature down a 300m hole drilled in 2005. The ice remembers the temperature it had when the snow fell. It gets dampened, but we can see long-term temperature changes. One day, with this method, our great grand children will probably be able to see global warming this way: by sticking a thermometer down a hole in the ice…
I’m very excited about being here. Fieldwork is an important part of the research I do: it takes me the rest of the year to process and analyze the samples I collect here. Plus, it’s a lot of fun: the snow is just ideal to carve things into, for instance. I hope to learn a lot about how things work down here, so that one day, I can organize my own polar expedition.
aorsi@ucsd.edu


One last item. An expert in Norse history found some inaccuracies in our generalization about the period of the Vikings posted in a former blog. I appreciate his willingness to share his expertise and add detail to our generalization. Thanks
"In the blog it says that the Vikings in Greenland died in around 1128 AD (ice core depth 218). Actually, Erik Raude (Erik the red) came to Greenland in 982 and the Norsemen lived there in approx. 500 years. In 1408 there was a huge wedding in Hvalsøy church in Østbygda that was the southernmost village in Greenland. Relatives from Iceland came to celebrate the wedding. Willy Dansgaard (Prof. Emeritus in Glaciology, Copenhagen) writes in his book: "As for any wedding, people were happy and they partied all night. But no one knew that the wedding bells were in reality the deathknell for the Vikings in Greenland. No one ever heard more about them. "


Fingers crossed for good weather for the next week.

Friday, January 18, 2008


January 19, 2008
WAIS Divide camp Antarctica

Time: 6 am
Latitude: 79° 28.10’ S
Longitude: 112° 3.56’ W
Elevation: 1820 m (5919’)
Ice core: ~500 m (1,500’)
Temperature: -13°C (9°F)
Wind speed: 0-5 km/h (0-3 mp/h)
Wind Chill: -17°C (1°F)
Visibility: 8 km (4 miles)
Clouds: low-mid stratus
Wind direction: N
Relative Humidity: 86%
Barometric Pressure: steady
Precipitation: - 0
Animals: 6 Skuas, 12 Weddell seals (all in McMurdo)
Breakfast: eggs, bacon, bagels
Lunch: hot turkey/veggie sandwiches
Supper: tomoato-rice soup, potatoes, salmon


Still digging out from our storm three days ago. On the way into the galley to upload this blog I ran into one of our medics Phil. Phil and Charles act as our medical/safety staff here in camp. Not only are they there for safety training, bumps and bruises, and the often flu like symptoms (we are lucky that we have not had any major accidents here) these guys also wear a number of other hats. Phil was on his way out this morning to operate the Cat D4 bulldozer and remove yet more snow and make our lives easier traveling back and forth across camp. He mentioned how interesting it was to be both medic and D4 driver. I think it is great and have always appreciated having a couple different interests/careers that I move between. In his US day job, Phil is an ambulance driver/medic for a non-profit hospital. Charles, our other medic runs Qwest Medical in Whitefish, Montana that provides wilderness medical training. In camp he also collects daily weather (sometimes hourly observations before flights arrive) that includes the balloon observations for determining cloud ceiling for incoming flights, and is in charge of the satellite communications that I (we) are so indebted to him for. Without his diligence I would not been able to upload the blog from WAIS Divide camp. As you can see, you have to be a Renaissance person here in camp and have any talents. Both terrific guys that play a very important role in camp.


Weeks ago a student asked if there were any international scientists/staff working with us here at WAIS Divide. In camp we do have some international folks, some that are students at US institutes and some that are senior scientists. As a way of introducing them to you, I have decided to ask them to add a piece to the blog. Some are included below written in their own language. The generalized English translation for their commentaries is also included, but possibly just reading their words, in their language, is more interesting. Today Inger and Wilfredo-



Inger Seierstad

Jeg hedder Inger Seierstad. Jeg voksede op i Norge og jeg bor i Denmark. Jeg er på WAIS Divide som en udveksling mellom det danske og det amerikanske iskerne-milieu. På WAIS Divide arbejder jeg med iskernen efter at den er boret. Vi har et godt hold og jeg nyder at være her. Det er meget interessant at se hvordan et amerikansk iskerneprojekt er organiseret i forhold til europæiske iskerneprojekter. Jeg har lært meget som jeg vil tage med hjem, hvor jeg i gang med en PhD om iskerner fra Grønland.


My name is Inger Seierstad. I grew up in Norway and I live in Denmark. I am at WAIS Divide as an exchange between the Danish and the US ice core communities. At WAIS Divide I work as an ice core handler together with eleven other people. We have a good team and I enjoy my time here. It is very interesting for me to see how an American ice core project is running compared to the European ice core project. I have learned a lot that I will bring back home where I am doing a PhD on ice cores from Greenland.



Wilfredo Falcón

Hola! Mi nombre es Wilfredo Falcón y estoy participando en un internado con el US National Science Foundation y Raytheon Polar Services. La meta del internado es proveer experiencia a estudiantes universitarios en las diferentes actividades que se llevan a cabo a través del Programa Antárctico de los Estados Unidos, y motivarlos a seguir participando ya sea trabajando o haciendo investigación científica. Actualmente estoy estudiando Manejo de Vida Silvestre en la Universidad de Puerto Rico en Humacao y una de las profesoras me contó acerca del internado así que solicité y aquí estoy! Como estudiante de manejo de vida silvestre estoy interesado en como la fauna y flora antártica se ha adaptado a un ambiente tan hostil como lo es en Antártica. También me interesa como el cambio climático y la reducción en las capas de hielo afectará no sólo la vida silvestre en Antártica, si no también alrededor de todo el mundo y en especial las áreas costeras. He aprendido muchas cosas en WAIS Divide en términos de cómo el cambio climático está afectando la reducción de las capas de hielo en el continente y al mismo tiempo cómo esto está afectando el medio ambiente. El proyecto de perforación para sacar coros de hielo (icecores) proveerá muchas respuestas que nos ayudarán a entender mejor lo que está pasando alrededor del mundo. Otra cosa que he encontrado facinante es la cryobiología, que estudia los efectos de temperaturas extremadamente bajas en sistemas biológicos. Se cree que existe vida en el agua que está presente entre la capa de hielo y la roca continental. Sería un gran descubrimiento encontrar vida capaz de sobrevivir en un lugar con temperaturas tan extremas.

Definitivamente me gustaría regresar a Antarctica y estudiar la vida silvestre que aquí habita. Tengo un interés especial en cómo la reducción de las capas de hielo están afectando las colonias de pinguinos de adelie y a su vez las interacciones depredador-presa que éstos tienen con las focas leopardo.

Para más información:

Wilfredo Falcón Linero
wfalconpr@gmail.com

Internado en Antarctica RPSC/NSF:
Contacte a Kimberly Jones al:
RPSC/NSF Internship Program
kimberly.jones@usap.gov

Universidad de Puerto Rico en Humacao
www.uprh.edu/mvs

My name is Wilfredo Falcon and I am doing an internship with the National Science Foundation and Raytheon Polar Services. The goal of the internship is to provide hands on experience to college students on the different activities in the US Antarctic Program and to encourage them to come back to work or do scientific research. I am studying Wildlife Management in the University of Puerto Rico at Humacao. One of my professors told me about the internship opportunity, so I applied and here I am! As a wildlife management student I am very interested in how the Antarctic fauna and flora have adapted to such a hostile environment in Antarctica. Also, I’m interested on how the climate change and the ice sheet reduction will affect not only Antarctic wildlife, but also around the world and especially in coastal areas. I learned a lot at WAIS Divide in terms of how the climate change is affecting the ice sheet reduction and at the same time how this would affect the environment. The ice core drilling will provide many answers that will help us better understand what is happening around the world. Another thing that I have found fascinating is cryobiology, which is the study of the effects of extremely low temperatures on biological systems. It is believed that there is life in the water that is between the ice sheet and the continent bedrock. It would be an exiting discovery to find life under the ice sheet.

I would definitely try to come again to Antarctica and study the wildlife. I have special interest on how the ice shelf reduction if affecting colonies of Adelie and Emperor penguins and their predator-prey interactions with the leopard seals.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


January 18, 2008
WAIS Divide camp Antarctica

Time: 6 am
Latitude: 79° 28.10’ S
Longitude: 112° 3.56’ W
Elevation: 1820 m (5919’)
Ice core: ~ 480m (1,460’) ~ the year 0 - the birth of Christ
Temperature: -15°C (5°F)
Wind speed: 0-10 km/h (0-6 mp/h)
Wind Chill: -20°C (-5°F)
Visibility: 11 km (7 miles)
Clouds: few thin high stratus
Wind direction: N/NE
Relative Humidity: 80%
Barometric Pressure: steady
Precipitation: - 0
Animals: 6 Skuas, 12 Weddell seals (all in McMurdo)
Breakfast: English muffins, bagels, grilled ham, cereal, homemade hot chocolate
Lunch: fried rice, steak stir fry, veggie stir fry
Supper: Lasagna (meat and veggie), Tira Misu


Two
days ago I mentioned the pink sprinkle cookies that Karen the night
chef had made for us and asked you all for suggestions on what we
should celebrate. You responses were fantastic (see comments from the 16th)
and I wanted to pass on a few of those and make some additional
comments. One thing that we started celebrating yesterday was the
arrival of the mythical C-130 plane. It has been a long time since we
have seen a plane but it did arrive. It brought with it a lot of
friends, colleagues, and supplies including Dr Charlie Bentley who I
spoke about the other day, a good friend of ours and asst. director of
the project’s science management office Joe Souney , folks from the
National Science Foundation (NSF) to see the arch and our drilling
progress, folks form NOVA, a few other support folks fromMcMurdo , and
believe it or not – mail and fresh grapefruit from the US. So, we are
celebrating the safe arrival of these folks, and fresh fruit.

Below are some of the ideas for celebration I received through the blog.

A few things you could celebrate on the 16th:

“1953: Corvette introduced in New York”

“The ability to eat delicious meals that are prepared for you ... instead of hunting for food cache's or eating seal meat.”

“ The ability to bathe whenever you feel the need ... and with warm water!”

“1945: Hitler descends to bunker to remain until suicide”


“You are not alone! You have many new friends from all over the globe
to get to know and learn to appreciate their varied cultures!”

“The fact that you have the opportunity visit a beautiful place”

“Beatles' album Yellow Submarine released- 1969”

“I’d love to just eat a cookie in that amazing place”

Sometimes
it is a little too easy to become complacent about where we are and I
apologize if some of my comments sound a little conceited – being in
Antarctica and whining about no hot chocolate. Not only do I understand
that we are some of the luckiest people in the world to be here and
able to do this science, but we are among the few percent of the
population of the world that live in peace and do not go to bed hungry
– for that we are eternally grateful. Certainly the comments about just
being, and just being here are correct and I (we) am happy to be among
an amazingly talented group of people, it is reward enough. Today (and
everyday) it is certainly time just to celebrate the ability to
celebrate with friends, and in Antarctica.

We also hope to get an additional C-130 plane tomorrow to take our ice cores back to McMurdo. The next plane after that is scheduled for Tuesday which will take many of us back to McMurdo to hopefully catch the next lift to NZ at the end of the week.

I also want to pass on the map showing our resupply vessel locations. The map is made by our new GIS service provider, The Antarctic Geospatial Information Center, www.agic.umn.edu. These vessels will be docking soon at McMurdo
to resupply the station, bring supplies for other stations to be
eventually distributed, and to take lots of stuff (our ice cores
included) back to the states. This site is funded by the NSF's office of Polar Programs.



Thanks for the comments everyone. Please comment whenever the spirit moves you.


The image today is of Rebecca at the DEP machine. Who is thankful that she received letters from her friend Anne's 3rd grade class at PS261, room 3-312, in Brooklyn.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008



January 17, 2008
WAIS Divide camp Antarctica

Time: 6 am
Latitude: 79° 28.10’ S
Longitude: 112° 3.56’ W
Elevation: 1820 m (5919’)
Ice core: ~ 480 m (1,440’)
Temperature: -14°C (7°F)
Wind speed: 16-25 km/h (10-15 mp/h)
Wind Chill: -25°C (-12°F)
Visibility: 11 km (7 miles)
Clouds: high - mid stratus
Wind direction: E/NE
Relative Humidity: 83%
Barometric Pressure: steady
Precipitation: - last few days ~3-4"
Animals: 6 Skuas, 12 Weddell seals (all in McMurdo)
Breakfast: no hot chocolate, pancakes, bacon, cereal
Lunch: grilled ham & bagels
Supper: chicken marsala, veggies

The
amount of snow drifting that has to be removed from doorways, cargo
lines, and tents is pretty amazing. Just like at the beach as the water
rushes back to the ocean around your feet, the snow and wind here erode
on the up wind side of objects and deposit downwind. Down wind and to the side of
each tent there are drifts that are 10s of meters long and on the
upwind side there is usually a trench. The step-down into my tent
entrance from the level of the snow around it is over 2’ (2/3 m). The
spindrift from the storm also found a few chinks in my tent fly and
started to build-up between the tent and the tent fly during the night.
Not enough to cause any real problems but I did have to hand-shovel my
way out my door this morning and remove the snow before it fell into
the tent with all my gear. It also has not been sunny and warm enough
for a few days to melt any snow that did get inside so I have a little
snow in the inside corners. One of these days the storm will pass and
there will be enough sun to heat up inside the tent and melt the snow.
The wind has also done some serious sculpting on my former lawn dragon
and Pukka snow bunny. Harvey’s ears are drooping a bit but otherwise the storm probably added more snow than it eroded away.


Despite
the storm, work inside the drill arch continues. We have not drilled as
much core lately due to some very minor equipment problems that have
all been resolved. At this rate we may get to 500 or 600 meters of ice
core before this Sunday. After that it is time to pack it all up and
get it shipped out to start its journey to the National Ice Core Lab (NICL) in Denver Co. Geoff and Brian, NICL’s curator and asst. curator have been here all season doing a fantastic job. The equipment set-up that they developed here at WAIS Divide seems to be working great. Each summer, following a season in the field, there will be a core processing “party” at NICL
to section the ice cores and distribute the appropriate pieces of ice
core to scientists. Then much of the rest of the analysis will take
place in their individual laboratories with much of it being chemical
analysis for gases and aerosols (particles) that will yield additional
information about past climate change.NICL is the repository for ice cores from all around the world. A lot of the ice core that resides at NICL
are pieces of each core that are left as archive pieces for the future.
There are always advancements in science theory, technique, and
equipment so ice core from each project remains atNICL for future investigations. nicl.usgs.gov/

The two images today are of the nearly 100% completed Harvey my Pukka snow bunny, who I hope you can see silhouetted against the skyline, and of my day shift partner Sylvia who is taking a much needed break warming up by sitting on the heated tool box in the driller's side of the arch. Even in the driller's side of the arch, which is a few degrees warmer than the ice core processing side of the arch, it is too cold for power tools to operate well so the carpenters built a wooden tool box which is heated. We also put our cold gloves etc in the box to warm up. When Sylvia and I need a quick break we head to the tool box which warms us up from the bottom first and provides a comfortable seat.

PS There has been some relief here on the hot chocolate dilema. John the chef has now been making hot chocolate out of baker's cooking chocolate and powdered milk. From what I hear it is a welcome relief form the lack of hot chocolate drink and even tasted better than the powdered instant mix stuff.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


January 16, 2008
WAIS Divide camp Antarctica

Time: 6 am
Latitude: 79° 28.10’ S
Longitude: 112° 3.56’ W
Elevation: 1820 m (5919’)
Ice core: ~ 420 m (~1,260’)
Temperature:-13°C (8°F)
Wind speed: 25-30 km/h (18 mp/h- gusts to 25)
Wind Chill: -23°C (-10°F)
Visibility: 1.6 km (1 miles)
Clouds: stratus and ground blizzard still , but blue sky above 1000'
Wind direction: N/NE
Relative Humidity: 87%
Barometric Pressure: steady
Precipitation: - 0
Animals: 6 Skuas, 12 Weddell seals (all in McMurdo)
Breakfast: no hot chocolate
Lunch: shrimp and scallop in pasta, pesto pasta
Supper: Steak, potaotes, Asian noodles, veggies


As
I mentioned, we got a big storm starting two nights ago. It was (still is)a
good Antarctica storm with high winds, snow, and believe it or not –
blue sky and light clouds above ~1000’. It is kind of strange to get a
glimpse through the ground storm and look up to see blue sky. It means
that there certainly will not be a plane again today. It may seem that
I mention the planes too often but there are a bit of the blood around
here. It is the planes in “freshies”, people, and science supplies.
Though we are out of hot chocolate, more importantly we are running low
on some science supplies and waiting on a couple of key people to show
up. None of this is a real problem but it makes life in Antarctica
interesting. There is also something fun about planes and even if they
do not bring something special for you they add a bit of excitement to
the day. It is also the planes that will carry our ice cores and
personnel out of here at the end of the season, which is coming up very
very fast. We know that they will come but I would like to see them in
and out of here more often to reassure that I will get out on time. One
of the people we are waiting to see is Dr Charles Bentley, geophysicist
and professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr
Bentley is a real Antarctic explorer making his first trip here to the
ice in 1957 spending 25 months as part of the International Geophysical
Year(s) in and out of Little America that was an outpost on the edge of
the Ross Ice Shelf. He is truly one of the pioneers of Antarctic
science and during that first trip to Antarctica completed the longest
geophysical traverse from Little America inland to Byrd Station. Today
he is one of the world’s leading experts on West Antarctic ice
sheet and the principle investigator for the University of Wisconsin’s
Ice Coring and Drilling Services (our drillers here atWAIS Divide camp). Dr Bentley also has a mountain named after him, Mount Bentley, at 4,247 m (13,930 ‘) in the Sentinel Range.

Maybe
it is the lack of planes or maybe it is the low-pressure weather system
but we need another celebration around here. We have had holidays and
birthdays about every week but nothing to celebrate in a while now.
Karen did make some terrific looking cookies with sprinkles so we might
need to invent a reason to hold a celebration just for the cookies. If
you have any ideas on something we can celebrate please send them to me
right away.

Today's image is one of the entrance to the galley. You can see the size of the drifts that formed during the storm the last 24+ hours. If we had not been shoveling out the doorway each hour or so it would have been completely blocked.

Monday, January 14, 2008



January 15, 2008
WAIS Divide camp Antarctica

Time: 6 am
Latitude: 79° 28.10’ S
Longitude: 112° 3.56’ W
Elevation: 1820 m (5919’)
Ice core: ~ 400m (1200’) ~300 AD
Temperature: -15 °C (6 °F)
Wind speed: 40-50 km/h (25-30 mph) with gusts to 40 mph
Wind Chill: -25°C (-14°F)
Visibility: 0.2 km (0.1 miles)
Clouds: ground snow storm up to 100' (?) in elevation
Wind direction: NE
Relative Humidity: 87%
Barometric Pressure: falling
Precipitation: - lots and lots of flurries, maybe another 2-3" of actual snow?
Animals: 6 Skuas, 12 Weddell seals (all in McMurdo)
Breakfast: pancakes with Alaskan blueberries
Lunch: Grilled sandwiches, veggies
Supper: Pork, veggies, chicken soup

We
had yet another flight scheduled for yesterday and the day started
calm, sunny, and as nice as it gets here. By supper time it was strong
winds, blowing snow , and little to no visibility.OK , no big deal but
now we are even out of hot chocolate – that is a tough situation. A
person can endure many things but no hot chocolate in the winter is
getting difficult. Actually, believe it or not, but I do not enjoy hot
chocolate so it is no big deal for me (though I am out of Ginger Tea)
but I feel the pain of all the other people here who really like hot
chocolate and feel that it is a stable in the winter (I know it is
summer in Antarctica but it sure feels like winter). The picture today
is of the outhouses (and flags) taken from inside the galley breezeway.
I am not sure if you can actually see the black-colored outhouses in
this image but if not, do not feel left out as we can hardly see them
from the galley and it is only about 17 m (50’) away. I do not think
that this storm will reach the intensity of our pre-Christmas storm that
had us all stuck in the galley and rec hut for the night unable to get
to our tents. Tonight will be an interesting night trying to sleep with
the wind against my tent.

Regardless of the storm we are still
working away in the arch and drilling ice core. All the equipment in
the arch is working well, especially under these conditions. The one
unique things about snowy places like Antarctica is the spindrift.
Spindrift is the very fine snow that gets blown through every tiny
opening whether it is in your clothing, your tent, or in the arch.
There are the tiniest openings along the doors in the arch and today we
were shoveling all day just to keep the snow out. During the last storm
some people had spindrift blown up between their tent fly that found
its way into the tents. One person even found a pile of snow in their
sleeping bag that was blown through a slight opening in the doorway. As
I sit here writing I am hoping that I closed all the doors and windows
in my tent. It was too easy to get lulled into a false sense of security when
I woke up and found another beautiful day. By now I should know better
and I think I did close all the windows and doors - fingers crossed.

My 3d quadrat is still there and making it through the storm. I had a discussion at supper with one of the visiting scientists, Dr. Robert Bindschadler
from NASA who is here with a small group working in and out of the Pine
Island Glacier. The discussion centered around how to measure snow
accumulation here in this windy environment. His group installed an
automatic weather stations (AWS) and it includes a sonic
measuring device for accumulation. He mentioned that you can definitely
measure accumulation here in Antarctica but it has to be daily (even hourly)
observations. The reason is that after the snow actually accumulates during storms
it may be completely scoured away during windy non-snow events.
You can actually stick a ruler in the snow and measure
accumulation of snow but you can not just measure the ruler once at the
end of the season but daily to observe both the accumulation and the
erosion from the wind.

Both accumulationand erosion are the prime events of last night and possibly into late today. The winds last night were rattling my tent to the point where it was a challenge to sleep at all, even with ear plugs of headphones.
We do have flights scheduled for tomorrow
and the next day but I think we all assume that tomorrow is going to be
cancelled. One of these days we will see another C-130 land here with lots of
need supplies.

Sunday, January 13, 2008


January 14, 2008
WAIS Divide camp Antarctica

Time: 6 am
Latitude: 79° 28.10’ S
Longitude: 112° 3.56’ W
Elevation: 1820 m (5919’)
Ice core: ~355 m (1100’) ~520 A.D. Approaching the end of the Roman Empire
Temperature: -9 °C (13°F)
Wind speed: 15 km/h (9 mp/h)
Wind Chill: -15 °C (4 °F)
Visibility: 1 km (0.6 miles)
Clouds: flurries and wind
Wind direction: W
Relative Humidity: 85%
Barometric Pressure: falling
Precipitation: - flurries
Animals: 6 Skuas, 12 Weddell seals (all in McMurdo)
Breakfast: Leftovers
Lunch: Leftovers
Supper: Leftovers

As
I mentioned yesterday, our Sunday off is a nice time to catch-up on
rest, skiing, movies, and other work. Wake up, take a shower, wash some
clothes, upload the blog, go back to sleep, eat lunch, ski (pretty
tough in this wind and snow), watch a movie, write, read, go back to
sleep, and then start the week all over again tomorrow. Actually since
my shift was the last to work yesterday, by 4 pm today the afternoon
shift was back at the arch drilling and processing. The evening
midnight to morning shift will also be on tonight in the arch. We will
actually only be here for another week or so and then it is almost time
to pack up and leave. Hopefully the weather suddenly improves and we
all get out of here on time. Possibly unlikely if the weather so far
has been any indication with the number of cancelled flight to date. We
were actually supposed to get a C-130 flight in today but it was also
cancelled. No worries though as Antarctica is what Antarctica is and we
will need to concentrate on drilling as much as possible before we
leave here. We will be home soon enough and back to the our other work,
some of us anyway. There is one person I hear that has scheduled a
month in New Zealand, a month in Australia, and 2 months backpacking in
the states after they leave here. That is not exactly my itinerary as I
will take about 2 days in New Zealand and then straight back to work at
the university. From what I also hear, the weather at home has switched
from snowy to rainy. That does not make me want to run home even with
the constant wind and cold here. There is something wrong about rainy days in
Maine in January. By itself it does not signify global warming but it
is very unusual to have a number of very rainy days in Maine in January and
over time there is a definite trend towards warmer winters. It was not
that long ago that I remember the entire month of January being well
below zero degrees Fahrenheit. In the past, it was the January thaw
that we looked forward to around the end of the month when it might
rain a little just before we moved into my favorite month of February.
Then, the temperatures in Maine were still cold, though longer sunny
days, with more snow. A 3dquadrat is great to have to help you focus
your attention on changes in the weather but just observing your home
area closely is also certainly important. There are a number of sources
that contain long-term weather data records including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC report - www.ipcc.ch/- contains an incredible amount of information on global climate change and future climate forecasts developed using computer modeling, based on real observed data. These reports are updated
periodically and are the best source for global climate change
information. There are also a number of other “local” reports such as
the those developed for New England using 100 year data sets on local
weather and events such as the length of growing season and lake ice on
and off dates. One in particular, Indicators of Climate Change in the
Northeast, was developed at the University of New Hampshire and now
distributed by a non-profit group called Cool Air-Clean Planet
(www.cleanair-coolplanet.org/) in New Hampshire that works on greening
solutions. These types of observations/reports are very important in
helping us “see” the changes that are taking place. Near my home is
lake Winnipesaukee NH which has had an annual ice fishing contest for
decades. Only last year (or the year before?) was the first time ever
that the contest was cancelled for lack of safe ice. In the past, New
England was also filled with small, often family-owned, ski areas that
have mostly disappeared as the old New England snow fall has become so
sparse and unpredictable that they could not afford to stay open. Even
in our town is small community ski area that has only held it spring
ski festival once in the past many many years. Could all the lack of
ice and snow be just part of a cyclic trend? Possibly but the
scientific data supports that there is definitely a human induced
addition to the warming that affects local and global climate change.
The Earth’s climate is far more susceptible to small changes than we
ever thought possible. Many still do not believe that people can affect
the planet but these changes are easy to see. Which brings us back to
theWAIS Divide ice coring project as we collect and analyze ice cores
form Antarctica that contain a record of the changes in past climate.
These ice cores will give us additional information to understand past,
present, and future climate changes.


The additional snow and wind has helped by snow bunny and snow serpent. As soon as I am done with them I will post an image.

Today's image is of some of the drill crew from Ice Core Drilling Service (ICDS)
in Madison, WI. Note the sunny day (older photo) and the amount of snow
that has drifted over the drill arch - on which they are standing.

Saturday, January 12, 2008


January 13, 2008
WAIS Divide camp Antarctica

Time: 6 am
Latitude: 79° 28.10’ S
Longitude: 112° 3.56’ W
Elevation: 1820 m (5919’)
Ice core: ~380 m (1140’)
Temperature: -15 °C (6°F)
Wind speed: 22 km/h (14 mp/h)
Wind Chill: -23 °C (-10 °F)
Visibility: 1 km (0.6 miles)
Clouds: flurries and wind
Wind direction: W
Relative Humidity: 80%
Barometric Pressure: falling
Precipitation: - flurries
Animals: 6 Skuas, 12 Weddell seals (all in McMurdo)
Breakfast: pancakes, muffins, cereal, bacon
Lunch: Jalapeno corn bread, chili, veggie soup, baked potato
Supper: Short ribs, fries, bread, veggie BBQ

We
are working 6 days on and 1 day off this week and maybe the next week.
We have accomplished quite a lot in the drilling arch but still have a
long way to go. Since our ultimate goal is the bottom of the ice sheet
at 3,500 m (10,000’+), and we are just past 350 m (1,140’), we are about
1/10 of the way down. It may seem like we have not gotten far this year
but it took so long to get all the equipment in place that the next few
years will be pure drilling and we will gain 3-4 times more core each
year. At the end of the last shift change Ken printed out a plot of the
annual layers of ice that we have collected so far. A very very rough
estimate places us somewhere back around 600 A.D. We can not directly see the
actual annual layers in the ice core but it
takes the DEP machine to analyze the dielectric constant in the ice to
determine the annual layers. At some level I am becoming a little
complacent about the ice I am working with and I am treating it like
another day in the arch measuring and cutting ice core. It is easy to
forget where we are and the cool science we are doing when working at
-20C trying to stay warm. Next time I get to work I am going to take a
bit more time and really concentrate on what I am collecting.

After
the last work shift on Saturday it is time to catch up with reading,
movies, and personal grooming. Many of us have longer hair and most men are wearing beards here in camp but with limited showers sometimes it is best just to have
as little hair as possible. Where is the closest barber
inWAIS Divide camp? As you can see from today’s picture, your friendly
neighbor driller is good with a multi-million dollar instrument and a
$10 shaver. The big question is what do you tip a free barber in
Antarctica? Me, I am keeping my hair long but little by little I am
getting rid of my beard and plan to arrive home in less than two weeks
without it.

Friday, January 11, 2008




January 12, 2008
WAIS Divide camp Antarctica

Time: 6 am
Latitude: 79° 28.10’ S
Longitude: 112° 3.56’ W
Elevation: 1820 m (5919’)
Ice core: `270 m (810’), ~900 AD
Temperature: -13 °C (8°F)
Wind speed: 13 km/h (8 mp/h)
Wind Chill: -19 °C (-3 °F)
Visibility: 1 km (0.6 miles)
Clouds: clear to noon, storming by afternoon
Wind direction: W
Relative Humidity: 78%
Barometric Pressure: steady
Precipitation: - flurries
Animals: 6 Skuas, 12 Weddell seals (all in McMurdo)
Breakfast: pancakes, muffins, cereal
Lunch: leftovers of all the best suppers- burritos, steak, catfish gumbo
Supper: Mahi Mahi, rice, veggies

In
New England, the saying is, “If you do not like the weather then wait a
minute”. In Antarctica the saying for me is becoming, “keep waiting, it
might be nice later for a minute, or maybe not”. Friday started as a
beautiful, calm, warm, and sunny day but by 1pm it was a horizontal
snowstorm. Despite the storm outside, the real training grounds for
being in Antarctica is working in the drill arch. It is colder in the
arch, ~ -20 C, than outdoors and you never get the benefit of any
bright sunshine. That temperature is needed to preserve the ice cores which come out at about -27°C. So far all the teams are doing well and easily
handling the amount of work, and the cold. The average run of the drill
up and down the hole to collect one ice core is about an hour. It takes
only about 30 minutes to process each 2.5 m (8’) core so we spend the
rest of the time bagging, boxing, and labeling boxes for shipping back
to the National Ice Core Lab (NICL) in Denver. At the temperature in
the processing room, my clothing is keeping me warm. I do need to
remember though to dry out my socks each meal as the sweat that builds
up in my boots makes my feet cold after a few hours. The worse thing is
my fingers. As long as I keep my gloves on all is fine but it is too
easy to want to take them off to write or handle equipment. The metal
of the equipment is so cold that even a quick touch gives you a cold
burn. There is no great combination of gloves in the arch to handle the
equipment and to write with a pencil but careful changing from thick to
thin gloves makes it all work. It is time consuming but it is the only
good way.


This morning I talked to a group of school kids in
Maine using our satellite phone. They had great questions and it was fantastic to talk to someone
again outside of camp. Because of their questions, I decided that it
might be a good idea to add animals to the list of observations that I
am keeping track of and listing in the beginning of the blog. As you
can see from that item there are few animals to be seen here, and none
(almost none are here in the middle of West Antarctica). By the time I
get back to McMurdo the sea ice will have melted so far that the icebreaker will be able to reach the McMurdo water front and with that broken ice path comes more Skuas and Adele Penguins. There are bound to be a couple dozen of birds wandering around the broken ice flows.


The
image today is of a typical windy day in camp. You can see how flat
the light is and how the snow is blown over the ground like sand.
Though the image is small you might still be able to see the ring
around the Sun.

Thursday, January 10, 2008



January 11, 2008
WAIS Divide camp Antarctica

Time: 6 am
Latitude: 79° 28.10’ S
Longitude: 112° 3.56’ W
Elevation: 1820 m (5919’)
Ice core: 253 m (760’), 958 AD Beginning of the Viking Age
Temperature: -13 °C (8°F)
Wind speed: 13 km/h (8 mp/h)and decreasing
Wind Chill: -19 °C (-3 °F)
Visibility: 7 km (4.2 miles)
Clouds: clearing, clear with few clouds
Wind direction: W/SW
Relative Humidity: 78%
Barometric Pressure: steady
Precipitation: -
Breakfast: Cereal, French toast, no flight so we are out of eggs for breakfast
Lunch: mac and cheese, veggi soup
Supper: Fried Chicken, veggies, bread


We
have now changed to having three shifts per day in the drill arch. Both
the drillers and the core handlers have people manning the drilling
core handling 24 hrs. a day. I am staying on days, which helps my writing and
trying to get on the Internet to upload blogs every day at 5 am. My day
shift starts at 7:30 and ends around 4 pm. Today is a big transition
for some people as they move from days to evening shift or evenings to
the late-night midnight. A couple of folks, Inger,
Dave, and Ursula seem to be night people and sometimes stay up late so
are happy to work the midnight to 8 am late-night shift. Since it is always
day here, with the 24 hrs of light, it almost always seems like every
shift is the day shift. The biggest change is that we will only get to
see some people once a day as they are coming off or on their shift. I
had worked with Gabby and Dave but they both moved to evenings so it is
Sylvia,Rebecca , and I on the day shift. Gabby is a graduate student at Princeton
University and the University of Paris 6 in Paris France, and Dave is a
graduate student at Penn State University. Sylvia is a graduate student
at the University of Colorado at Boulder, andRebecca works at Mt Rainier and in Tahoe California.

Last night’s science lecture went well and my hope is that we have been able to recruit more of the staff/science here at WAIS
Divide camp to interact with students/public in their hometowns and get
more images and written reports from people here to add to the web site. This
morning as I was walking around in the powdery snow it was obvious that
the snow flurries we had for two days had accumulated. With the Sun out
again today it sure looks like a great day for a ski but I am exhausted
from my work shift today. It would be the day for a long ski away from
camp until there is nothing to be seen but a dot – but I am just not
going to make it.

I started to build a snowman, turned snow
rabbit, and a snow serpent a week or two ago and the new snow and wind
helped me out by adding lots of drifting snow to both sculptures. The
snowman/rabbit is about 6’ tall and reminds me of an imaginary 6’Pukka
rabbit from an old movie, so I named it Harvey. Harvey stands outside my
tent door and looks off towards “main street” and the buildings of
camp. My neighbor in tent city, Inger, also finished her igloo and she
and her building comrades had an igloo warming party last Saturday.
Almost everyone turned out to see the completed igloo and enjoy some authentic Gloegg, the
Norwegian version of hot-spiced wine. She did a really fabulous job on
the igloo and I am sure that it will be there, though mostly buried,
when they open upWAIS camp next summer. Anais has also finished her bore-hole logging measurements and packed up her remote camp. Our back lit
snow pit is not far from her old camp and on recent inspection I saw
about ½ m (1.5’) of snow covering the plywood roof. At this rate I will
have a lot of digging to do to reopen the pit and recover the plywood.

Today's images are of some of the Igloo Warming goers enjoying a cup of Gloegg, and finally, an image of Sundogs which we saw the evening of the party. I spoke about Sundogs in an earlier blog but basically they are an effect of the refraction of the Sun through high thin clouds. Both images courtesy of Inger.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008


January 10, 2008
WAIS Divide camp Antarctica

Time: 6 am
Latitude: 79° 28.10’ S
Longitude: 112° 3.56’ W
Elevation: 1820 m (5919’)
Ice core: 218 m Age: 1128 The Vikings extinct in Greenland
Temperature: -10 °C (14°F)
Wind speed: 14 km/h (9 mp/h)
Wind Chill: -8 °C (10 °F)
Visibility: 2 km (1.2 miles) fluctuates
Clouds: clearing, low and high stratus, with breaks
Wind direction: NW
Relative Humidity: 84%
Barometric Pressure: falling
Precipitation: steady flurries

Breakfast: pigs in blankets (hot dogs in dough)
Lunch: tuna melt, fries, green beans, veggie soup
Supper: Flank steak, catfish gumbo, Tofu stir fry, veggies


Today is rather unusual so far for my time in WAIS
Divide camp. We have the wind blowing from the NE/E for the last 24 hrs
and steady flurries. As I have mentioned before it is very difficult to
get a good measure of the snow accumulation because of all the blowing
and drifting snow but we are getting some these last 24+ hrs. The
annual average accumulation is about 85 cm (34 “) and like my home, if
it is too cold it does not snow, so the slightly warmer temperatures
these last few days might be helping.

Things are running at
almost full speed here on the ice coring front and today or tomorrow we
will be adding a third shift on drilling. That means that there will be
3 or 4 of us on each 8-hour shift drilling and processing ice cores.
The pace so far is working well and the quality of the ice cores is
outstanding. By quality I mean that each ~2.5 M (6.5’) core that comes
out of the drill barrel is 99% intact and not broken. When the ice core
moves to the ice core processing room we do a visual inspection and
record notes both on paper and digitally into a computer. We do not
take photos of the ice cores on a regular basis for our records as
there is really not much to see in each ice core and they start to look
similar. Because of the very slight scrap marks that are present on the
outside of the ice core when it comes out of the drill it is virtually
impossible for us to see any layers or other structure in the ice. The
age dates for the ice that I am posting come from Rebecca, Trevor, or Ken as they operate the DEP instrument (Di-electric Properties). The DEP
measures the dielectrical constant of the ice with an electric current.
Chemicals in the ice such as acids and Ammonia change the result. Ammonia is one naturally occurring chemical that
has a seasonal fluctuation (part of the Ammonia cycle) as it increases
in the summer and decreases in the winter.

One of the questions
I often get is if we ever find “anything” like fossils in the ice
cores. Imagine taking a pencil and while blind folded you point your
pencil to the exact center of a piece of paper. A little like pin the
tail on the donkey. So, the chance of finding a fossil in one 4” hole
in the middle of West Antarctica is very close to zero. The chances
even get worse when you remember that the ice here is about 3,400 m
thick (over 10,000 ‘ or ~ 2 miles) and there are no living things her
eon the ice except at the ocean margin where there may be some
penguins, seals, or birds. Basically there no fossils in the ice that
we have found. Not that there are not small organisms like bacteria in
the ice but we are not seeing them.

The 3d quadrat has seen some
accumulation of snow. The snow here, because of the wind never makes a
nice flat surface so the new accumulation has come in drifts, like the
one in the 3dquadrat. I will be anxious to see if the drift stays or is now sculpted by the wind as the wind direction changes. Otherwise, the temperature has warmed by many degrees and the shift in the wind are the most obvious to us here.


The image today is of the last hole on the Winter Olympics mini-golf tournament (courtesy Inger). Laurant, myself, with Ursula putting.b

Tuesday, January 8, 2008





January 9, 2008
WAIS Divide camp Antarctica

Time: 6 am
Latitude: 79° 28.10’ S
Longitude: 112° 3.56’ W
Elevation: 1820 m (5919’)
Ice core: ~40 m (180.32 m)(~540') – dates to approximately 1418 AD
We should reach the depth equivalent to Black Plague by today
Temperature: -7 °C (19°F)
Wind speed: 14 km/h (9 mp/h)
Wind Chill: -8 °C (10 °F)
Visibility: 7 km (4.2 miles) fluctuates
Clouds: clearing, low and high stratus, with breaks
Wind direction: W/NW
Relative Humidity: 86%
Barometric Pressure: steady
Precipitation: steady flurries, possibly up to 3 cm (1”+) of accumulation
Breakfast: Burritos, hash browns, bacon, homemade coffee cake
Lunch: tuna melt, fries, green beans, vegi soup
Supper: Flank steak, catfish gumbo, Tofu stir fry, veggies

As I mentioned yesterday we are scheduled to get another plane today.
Folks in and folks out and more resupply fuel and food. My legs are
also now fully recovered from the Winter Olympics we held two days ago.
Other than the skiing, the one event set-up I wanted to continue was a
mini-golf course designed by Rebecca and Dave. The entire course was like
playing in the rough with sand (snow) traps and obstacles but worth
saving had it not been groomed over by a bulldozer later that evening.
I hope someone saved the numbered flags for each hole. We might try and
set it up in a different location one of these days since we have the
colored golf balls and putters.

Yesterday after working in the
arch all day I ate supper, caught the end of a video, and was in my
sleeping bag early. It was probably the deepest sleep that I have had
since I got here. It is day two of ice core processing and we are
better prepared to handle ice cores and the cold – if that is possible.
I will try a different sock combination to keep my feet warmer and
maybe a couple of heat pads for my hands. The one thing I noticed about
working at -20 C yesterday was how dehydrated I got just from breathing
in the cold dry conditions. Today I will take more water/tea with me to
work and try and take a break during the day to rehydrate and snack.


Just
a quick note for those interested in the weather here. The plan is that
at the end of the season the weather guys here in camp will provide the
complete 24 hr day by day weather for the season. We would like to have
had it available now but it is another project that we will not get to
right away. And speaking of weather. We actually did not get our flight
today due to the weather inMcMurdo (where the plane originated from). The big test here for determining the weather/cloud ceiling here at WAIS
Divide camp it to launch balloons. The balloons used are red and come
in two sizes, one that is filled with 10g of Helium and the other that
is filled with 30g of Helium. Once the balloon(s) is launched it is
watched to see how long it takes to disappear. Then there is a chart
you use to determine the ceiling height (bottom of the clouds). The
minimum ceiling for a plane to land is 1000’ with 1 mile visibility.
When we know that a plane is scheduled, the weather data (including
balloons) is taken hourly and reported to flight operations. If the
weather looks good then the plane comes on its way to camp, but if the
weather deteriorates, even after the plane is in the sky, then the
landing may be cancelled. This morning the balloons told us – no
landings today.

Every Wednesday night one of us gives a "lecture". Tonight I am on to talk about science education and the WAIS DIvide program. I good portion of my talk will about talking with students and the general public about climate change and WAIS Divide ice cores. If you are interested in hearing more about the project please go to our science and outreach sites at www.waisdivide.unh.edu and or contact one of us to set up a talk or visit by one of the scientists. And please tell your friends about our education outreach efforts.

Today’s image is of the drill barrel (sonde) as
it is brought out of the ice core hole and moved to the horizontal so
that the ice core contained inside (look at the very end of thesonde carefully) can be removed and moved to the ice core processing room.