Saturday, January 5, 2008

January 6, 2008
WAIS Divide camp Antarctica

Time: 6 am
Latitude: 79° 28.10’ S
Longitude: 112° 3.56’ W
Elevation: 1820 m (5919’)
Ice core: 285 cm (~8‘)
Temperature: -16 °C ( 4°F)
Wind speed: 10 km/h (6 mp/h)
Wind Chill: -20 °C (-5 F)
Visibility: 11 km (7 miles)
Clouds: clear
Wind direction: N/NE
Relative Humidity: 77%
Barometric Pressure: rising
Precipitation: 0
Breakfast: pancakes with blueberry syrup, buckwheat pancakes
Lunch: sandwiches
Supper: Turkey, gravy, baked potatoes, mixed veggies

Today was an unbelievably sunny day from beginning to end. One Twin Otter left with another science group to the Pine Island Glacier for three days and our group was in the arch all day working with the drillers to get another 2.85 m of ice. Being that today is Saturady and tomorrow is our day off, we secured the ice cores that we have drilled into the ice basement to stay cold until we do minimal processing tomorrow. It is -20 °C in the ice core processing room but not cold enough for ancient ice. On Monday we are moving to double shifts as we expect 10s of meters each day. We will continue working on that schedule for a couple days and then move to three shifts per day and really move things into higher gear.

There are a few things to report from the 3d quadrat. As I have mentioned before, the surface area here is the same for thousands of kilometers in every direction, nothing grows here, and unless the weather changes and the snow drifts there might be seemingly little to observe. The snow surface here though is becoming more compact by the wind each day. When I poke my pen in to the surface it is hard and more resistant each day. Since no new snow has fallen in awhile the surface becomes more and more compact and a wind pack layer is forming in some parts. The very top surface in another part is becoming very crystalline. Some of that seems to be Hoar Frost forming as the snow on the surface is sublimating. Sublimation is when the snow moves directly from a solid to vapor water, skipping the melting phase. It happens with the intense sunshine we are getting. Sublimation is sort of like evaporation with out the water part. Hoar Frost is a think crystalline frost that forms on the snow surface. At least some of the water that contributes to the Hoar Frost comes from the sublimating snow. The water molecules move from the solid snow to vapor water, then freeze in the cold and crystallize on the surface as frost. The rest of the frost probably comes from what little water vapor is in the air. This type of frost is similar to what happens at my house in Maine but since there is nothing else to crystallize on but the snow surface, that is where it forms.

Ken and I also did some filming this morning since the weather was so cooperative. A couple quick takes on film and my fingers were feeling the bite of the dry cold wind. I have noticed that it is cold here, the wind makes it colder, and on these very dry days it is even colder. The Sun makes it very warm in my tent and allows me to sleep without my sleeping bag zipped but once I am outside I remember that I am West Antarctica. The other funny thing about the location of my tent in tent city is that it is one of the closest tents to the diesel generator that we use to power the equipment in the arch 24/7. Basically, I came thousands of miles to almost the middle of West Antarctica and camped near a power plant – kind of funny. Then again it is worth the spectacular science and the scenery to come to Antarctica, generator or not.

Today’s image is of a group of us performing an Antarctic pig pile on John. We like John but felt he needed a good pig pile.


Anonymous said...

Someone please tell John Michler the great news, we're having a baby!!!!


Anonymous said...

John I miss you, how come you never write or call anymore?