Thursday, January 3, 2008

January 4, 2008
WAIS Divide camp Antarctica

Time: 6 am
Latitude: 79° 28.10’ S
Longitude: 112° 3.56’ W
Elevation: 1820 m (5919’)
Ice core: 45 cm (~1.5 ‘)
Temperature: -14 °C ( 7°F)
Wind speed: 16 km/h (10 mp/h)
Wind Chill: -21°C (-6° F)
Visibility: 11 km (7 miles)
Clouds: overcast
Wind direction: N
Relative Humidity: 77%
Barometric Pressure: steady
Precipitation: very very light snow
Breakfast: egg-ham mix, egg-asparagus mix, fresh cinnamon bread, cold/hot cereal, fruit
Lunch: chicken/vegi potpie
Supper: meat/vegi loaf, green beans, fresh bread

Yesterday, John and I started to shovel out an old frozen food freezer that was dug into the snow last year. It is now buried about 2 m (6’) deep so John and I had a tough time digging through the packed snow – similar to digging another snow pit. There is no food left in it but it was framed with wood and metal pallets that we need to recover and reuse. This morning it was so calm it is almost startling but a nice day to be outside, and not too sunny or not too cold. We were back to D-1 operation in the morning but moved to the arch by the afternoon. We actually never finished digging out the old under”ground” freezer by lunch but with ice coring starting I guess that is the end of my D-1 operating (shoveling) for now and I will be able get to my primary job of ice core processing.

The amount of action in camp has also increased with the arrival of a new science group on yesterday’s C-130 flight. It is always interesting to hear about the science of other groups and how they are handling the logistics of their projects here in Antarctica. The PI (principle investigator) is a 10-year veteran of Antarctica and a friend who attend a international teacher workshop I hosted last year in Montana (PS- more information on this year’s teacher workshops can be found at This group was actually supposed to be on their way out of the field by now but since everything in Antarctica takes more time, a little bad weather can set you back weeks. They will be going from here to Pine Island Glacier as soon as possible in this their recon year before they return next year to drill a hole through the ice shelf and sample the ocean below. They have a videographer from the Polarpaloozer program with them and you should checkout their videos on the web.

After noon, the drillers “cleaned-out” the ice core hole of any snow that might have fallen in over the last year and then went on to drill the first ice core of the season. Though it was only 44 cm long it was fantastic to actually get new ice out of the hole that was from about 115 m under the surface. The age of the ice, at that depth, is (very) approximately 447 years old. That ice fell from the sky at about the year 1560 AD. The 44 cm of ice we drilled included about 2 year worth of time. Imagine that the gas bubbles in our new ice core was the same air that people breathed while the Pilgrims settled in New England, before the French Revolution, and before Shakespeare wrote a play. Tomorrow we should be drilling more ice core and running it through our ice core processing area to record its depth, length, and condition before preparing it for packing and shipping to the National Ice Core Laboratory at the end of the season.

Today’s image (courtesy of Nicoli) is of the drill pipe and the first ice core of the season (white stuff on the at the end of the pipe) before it was removed. You will recognize me on the right from the “new” hat (see very early blogs).

PS Happy Birthday to Sylvia, Mathew, and Hugh. It was a three cake supper last night.

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