Tuesday, December 30, 2008

WAIS - Dec 30, 2008 - Spruce

Name: Spruce Schoenemann

Date: 12/30/08 (Actually 12/31/08 now that I'm off-shift and finished
with Mid rats)
Location: WAIS Divide Science
Time: 14:30 am
Latitude: 79° 28’ 1.2” S
Longitude: 112° 5’ 6.0” W
Elevation: 1,759 m
Borehole depth: 875 m
Temperature: -17 °C
Wind speed: 8 km/h (5mph)
Visibility: Unrestricted
Clouds: 1/8 cloud cover
Wind direction: 290 degrees (out of the northwest)
Barometric Pressure: 29.10 in Hg
Precipitation: none
Breakfast (actually lunch at camp, noon): Slept through lunch, so ate grapenuts cereal, yogurt, dried cranberries, maple syrup, and coffee
Lunch: (actually dinner at camp, 6 pm): Chicken Pot Pie, Veggies, Mashed Potatoes
Supper (mid-rats, midnight): Fancy Pasta w/ Turkish meatballs and veggies

Hello to all the WAIS Divide blog followers out there. Tonight was officially New Years Eve Eve. Yes, that’s right, Shift 2 gets two New Years Eves as we are off starting tonight until 3pm on New Years Day. To celebrate, we are enjoying our mid rats dinner so wonderfully prepared by Renin.

From Tim’s last blog entry I think you get a pretty good sense of the process of core handling and the science that will be done on the cores once back in the states.

So, I am going to take a more reflective approach to this blog, since it is the end of a year and the start of a brand new one. Looking back on 2008, I realize it has been a very interesting and exciting year. I want to share how I ended up here at WAIS Divide as a core handler in the first place. Last winter I applied to a number of graduate schools to start a Master’s program in paleoclimate science. As a backup in case I did not receive grant funding for the schools I applied to, I submitted an application to the Science Coordination Office at University of New Hampshire in late February. A few weeks later I got a call from Mark Twickler to set up a phone interview with him and Joe Souney. I was surprised and even more excited that I might have the opportunity to travel to Antarctica AND work on the WAIS Divide Ice Core Project. This would significantly help me gain direct experience in ice core research and paleoclimate science. My hour-long phone interview included questions like “How much time had I spent in isolated environments?” and “What experience did I have working extended periods in extreme cold?” My first response involved the trips I had made aboard ocean going Schooners for extended periods, as well as my experience working backcountry trail crews in Washington and Alaska. For the second question I shared my experiences working as a builder at 8,000 ft during the winter in cold and windy Estes Park, CO.

In late March I was offered a position as 1 of the 6 core handlers. Mark Twickler and Kendrick Taylor needed an answer by April 1st. However, I was still waiting to hear from the last few graduate programs that I hadn’t heard from yet. The deadline for graduate schools to send out final decisions is April 15th, so I explained my circumstances to Mark and Kendrick, and asked them to wait till I had heard from all the graduate schools. In the end, I turned down the one offer I received, to take this amazing opportunity to work in Antarctica on an ice-coring project I had heard and read about for the past few years.

My deployment to Antarctica wouldn’t be until mid November, so everything between April and November had to be targeted toward filling the gap of time effectively in regard to planning for re-application to graduate school, fulfilling prerequisite classes, and finding a temporary but worthwhile job.

I finished my work building lodges at the YMCA of the Rockies in mid May and moved to Boulder in June with my girlfriend who had just found a job working as a Clinical Exercise Physiologist. I enrolled in Physics classes at CU Boulder, and found a great job working on the city of Boulder’s ClimateSmart program in the Office of Environmental Affairs. I worked up until early November for the city of Boulder, while preparing applications for graduate school and leaving for Antarctica. Now I have been here 4 weeks and we have reached to almost 900 meters. I look forward to reaching our goal of a depth of 1500m and the satisfaction that will bring!

Thanks for listening to my story!
Cheers,
Spruce

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