Wednesday, January 23, 2008

January 24, 2008
McMurdo Antarctica

Time: 10 am
Latitude: 77° 50’ S
Longitude: 166° 49.10’ E
Elevation: 34 m (112’)
Temperature: -4°C (24°F)
Wind speed: 24 km/h (15 mp/h)
Wind Chill: -11°C (13 °F)
Visibility: 7 miles but overcast, low ceiling
Clouds: stratus
Wind direction: SE
Relative Humidity: 74%
Barometric Pressure: rising
Precipitation: - light snow
Animals: 6 Skuas, dozens of Weddell seals in McMurdo, including pups, no penguins yet, 1 whale sighting
Breakfast: omelets, French toast, sausage
Lunch: burritos
Supper: mac and cheese, turkey potpie
**Since we are in McMurdo there are four or five entrees at every meal

Yesterday felt like chore day. I went to the New Zealand Scott Base to look in their store and rode in the shuttle with the 109th Airlift Wing NY National Guard ( pilots who flew us in to McMurdo the day before and were on their way back to WAIS
Divide to collect a few more of our friends. The weather was
deteriorating yesterday but this morning I met a couple of our folks at breakfast
and learned that indeed they were lucky to get out because of clouds.
Later during the day,I also went to see the person in charge of travel arrangements, checked my mail,
and ran down to Hut Point to look in the open water leads for penguins
– there were none there at the time. Hut Point is very nearby McMurdo
central where Robert Falcon Scott and his men built a hut on one of
their early expeditions to Antarctica. I wrote about it in an earlier
blog. When I got there, also touring that hut were members of the
Norwegian-US Traverse of East Antarctica This
project is an ice coring traverse of East Antarctica. The US researcher
on the project, Dr Mary Albert, works at Dartmouth College and the Cold
Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory in Hanover, NH I happen to know her from my earlier
experience in Antarctica. Funny to see people in Antarctica whom you
know that live and work only a few hours away from your home. The drilling
organization on that project is also Ice Coring and Drilling Services (ICDS) and their driller and our drillers had a
lot to talk about at supper last night. Since the principle
investigator of ICDS, Dr Charlie Bentley, is in town with us there was a reunion of sorts as well lots of “shop” talk. The members of Norwegian-US traverse are also flying out to New Zealand with us tomorrow (fingers crossed).

The rest of the day I spent catching up with letters and “thinking about “
(I hesitate to say planning since we are not even off the ice yet) the
few days I will spend in New Zealand “recovering” from my days here on
the ice before the long flight back to Maine. As I have mentioned
before, many of our folks will be spending weeks and months touring New
Zealand and the world after they leave here but I only have a day or
two before getting back to family and work.

Today I will
continue to look for penguins in the open water leads. I have stopped
counting Weddell seals as there are dozens and dozens of these 500 lb “sea
slugs” all around the open water at McMurdo. I still have not seen any Skua (sea
gulls) but I know they are here somewhere.

Today’s images are of the
ice breaker opening up the sea ice to make it possible for the resupply
ship to land, possibly by Monday. And an image of good ole’ Mac Town (McMurdo Station). Transitioning back to McMurdo
and its dirty streets, buildings, and traffic is a difficult adjustment
after being in the middle of West Antarctica for over a month.

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