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

Internado en Antarctica RPSC/NSF:
Contacte a Kimberly Jones al:
RPSC/NSF Internship Program

Universidad de Puerto Rico en Humacao

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.


Anna said...


Great Idea! I really enjoyed this entry because I'm taking Spanish in school and it's always fun to apply my learning outside the classroom.

Gracias Zach y Wilfredo!

Camden Hills Regional High School

zach said...

Muy Bien Anna. Gracias

Anonymous said...

Hello Everyone! / Hola a todos!

Here is the contact information for the internship/ Aqui esta la información de contacto para el internado:

Kimberly D. Jones PHR
Manager - Recruiting & Diversity
Raytheon Polar Services
7400 S. Tucson Way
Centennial , CO 80112-3839
Phone: 720-568-2148
Fax: 303-662-8770

Anonymous said...


Thanks for writing about our son Phil and his colleague Charles. The work you are all doing is very interesting and a great adventure. We have enjoyed following the exploits of the people at WAIS Divide through your blogs.
Paul and Sharon

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