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.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your detailed blogs, Zach. My class was reading them together before the Christmas break but we have run into a few technical difficulties due to some server upgrades. We hope to be back reading them together within the next couple of days. In the meantime, know that we are following your progress with continued interest. Norma

Brandon Gillette said...

It may be a little difficult to remember back to the specific storms, but what was your most recent one like compared to the night we had to sleep in the Galley? Also, where does the waste water go? I meant to ask that while I was down there and never got around to it. I hope all is well. Sounds like you guys are finally up and running and already starting to get a little bit of information from the core! Cheers!