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.

6 comments:

kay said...

Thank you for posting all the information on your daily blog! It has been informative, educational, and entertaining, and has provided a connection to our loved ones so far away. It was great to get a snapshot of your life there and to know some of what you are doing. So cool to see my daughter at work! Congratulations on a successful season!

zach said...

Thank you Kay
PS Ursula says hi Mom

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