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

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 - 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
( 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.

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