Wednesday, January 2, 2008

January 3, 2008
WAIS Divide camp Antarctica

Time: 6 am
Latitude: 79° 28.10’ S
Longitude: 112° 3.56’ W
Elevation: 1820 m (5919’)
Temperature: -14 °C ( 7°F)
Wind speed: 10 km/h (6 mp/h)
Wind Chill: -18 C (-2 F)
Visibility: 11 km (7 miles)
Clouds: stratus on horizon to the North, cirrus overhead
Wind direction: N/NE
Relative Humidity: 77%
Barometric Pressure: falling
Precipitation: 0
Breakfast: egg-ham mix, scrambled eggs, pumpkin bread, fruit
Lunch: Salmon or lentil patties, veggies, bread

The forecast said that we would have a new storm move in last night but it never happened. As a result, we have been enjoying the relatively calm cold weather. When my neighbor(s) in tent city finished building the igloo around 3 am last night I am sure it was very cold. The actual temperature that I record each day is deceiving cold compared to what we experience here. For me, the 24 hours of sunlight psychologically makes it feel warmer than it is. When it is cold and dark it feels very cold, as I know from living in Maine, but sunny and cold is not too bad. A big impact on temperature is the wind, and as you can see from the wind chill calculations some days around here are very very cold. Some of our Alaskan friends claim that they actually come to Antarctica to warm-up at this time of year as it can easily be at least 15° F colder in central Alaska then it is in West Antarctica, as well as being dark. The lack of a storm today allowed another C-130 to land today. It dropped off another couple scientists that will stay here for a couple of days on their way to the Pine Island Glacier to work, and the plane took away a couple folks that need to get back to McMurdo and then home.

Yesterday we talked about wind direction, today we can talk about wind speed. The wind speed can also be determined using your wind flag or similar instrument if you do not have an anemometer. What you will have to do is calibrate your wind instrument (flag) compared to a professional instrument or on-line weather. Observe your flag on calm still days, then observe your flag on days that have winds of various strengths. A flag should be pointing straight out at about 30+ mph (miles per hour) and vary between that position and hanging down depending on the wind strengths. You can make up a chart that describes the position of your flag relative to the wind strength (see below for example). Then you can use your chart each day when you make observations and record the appropriate wind speed.

For a good chart on the Beaufort Wind Scale go to

The wind speed calibration chart that you create might look like this-
**this data is completely estimated and you need to calibrate your own wind speed scale!

Wind speed (mph)
0 10mph 20mph 25mph 30mph
flag at 0 flag at 10 flag at 45 flag at 60 flag at 90 (degrees)

see image

Time for me to get back out into the windy plains of West Antarctica. Since our galley building is the eating and meeting place, and the drill arch is ~1/2 km (¼ mile away) we often are shuttled to and from. Today’s image is of a couple of us on a sled being towed by a snowmobile back to work at the arch.


Jan M said...

Hi Zach
What an adventure!
We miss you here and wish you well.
Happy New Year!
Janet & the CSMT Gang

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