Thursday, December 11, 2008

WAIS - Dec 11, 2008 - Natalie

Natalie Kehrwald

Date: 12-11-2008
Location: WAIS Divide
Time: 5:45
Latitude: 79°28’1.2”S
Longitude: 112°5’6.0”W
Elevation: 1,759m
Temperature: -17 to -25 °C
Wind speed: 3 km/h
Visibility: Clear to the horizon this morning; now clear near camp
Clouds: Surface fog on the horizon (moving in); broken clouds at 10,000 feet
Wind direction: 280 grid
Relative Humidity: 77%
Barometric Pressure: 28.32
Precipitation: None
Animals: None
Breakfast: Blueberry pancakes
Lunch: Roasted chicken, couscous, and minestrone soup
Supper: My tummy is rumbling in anticipation

This is Natalie Kehrwald adding to Tim and Logan’s blog entries.

Everyone from the science team and ice core drillers are now here in WAIS and we can feel the excitement of getting closer to the beginning of drilling. The past few days have been great because each day would bring a huge LC-130 into camp carrying our friends and necessary cargo. When we could hear a plan in the distance, the whole camp would stop working and run or snowmobile over to the runway (also the skiway). The plane drops off cargo while it is taxiing to a stop, and then suddenly you are surrounded by your friends that just got off the plane. It is very fun to watch people’s faces as they experience looking at the wide, wide horizon of WAIS for the first time. Although the pilots are used to flying here regularly and often keep their planes running while picking up people or cargo to bring back to McMurdo, on this last flight they were interested in getting a tour of WAIS and learning about the ice core that we are drilling.

Now that everyone is here and settled, we have been spending full days getting ready to drill and ensuring that we are ready for changing conditions. Because we have been so lucky with the weather, this morning we were discussing ways of weather-proofing our tents while it is still nice out and while we can plan ahead. Some good ideas include:
Keeping all of your belongings inside a zipped duffel. This way if the wind blows your tent door open, your clothes, etc. will not be scattered across the ice sheet. I heard that this has happened more than once.
Make a wall about three feet high on the southern side of the tent since most storms come from this direction. This is basically like making a snow fort – you can saw blocks out of the snow and construct what you want out of them.
Make sure you have a supply of food and (non-frozen) water in your tent in case you are trapped in your tent by a storm. If you open your tent door and cannot see the next tent or the flag line, you should definitely not leave your tent. Our tents are set up on a grid somewhat like a Bingo chart (I am G6) so that we can easily know where the next tent is if a storm should develop.

This afternoon we can see a surface fog circling most of the horizon and it moves closer by the hour. My first day at camp a similar weather pattern developed, and the fog went from a line on the horizon to enveloping our camp within four hours. We have had remarkably good weather and that night’s fog was the only time it has been cloudy at all. I keep hearing stories of how last year there were only three completely sunny days during the working period and how unusual these days of sunny sparkling snow really are. I am planning to go for a ski after dinner (yum – the food here has been amazing) in order to take full advantage of the sun while it is shining.

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