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

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.

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.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Zach, Congrats for finally correcting your position from East Antarctica to West. That changes your reported position by 1354 Statute miles, 1176 Nautical miles or 2178 Kilometers.Just glad I wasn't on the search and rescue team that had to come looking for you after you called in your position. It would make a great lesson for the kids don't you think?