Thursday, January 15, 2009

WAIS - Jan 15, 2009 - Bess

Name: Bess Koffman

Date: January 15, 2009
Location: WAIS Divide
Time: 2030
Latitude: 79° 28’ 1.2” S
Longitude: 112° 5’ 6.0” W
Elevation: 1,759 m
Borehole depth: 1300 m
Temperature: -17°C
Wind speed: 10 knots
Wind Chill: ?? °C
Visibility: a few miles
Clouds: the whole sky
Relative Humidity: 90%
Precipitation: light snow
Animals: what we ate for lunch and dinner =)
Breakfast: Pancakes with strawberry sauce
Lunch: Fall-apart delicious beef, polenta, quinoa
Supper: BBQ pork, garlic/sesame sautéed kale, potatoes, cornbread, veggie soup, tempeh, zucchini and tomatoes.

Greetings to all our northern hemisphere readers out there! It’s been awhile since I’ve written, but hearing from a friend in Costa Rica that she’s been following the blog was all the impetus I needed to come back and write another post. Life, as you’ve heard, has been good at WAIS Divide lately. The arrival of airplanes means fresh fruit and vegetables for us, always a welcome change from frozen fare. The ice core drill has been working really well since the event that Dave F. posted about, and we’re on track to meet our depth goals by the end of the season! The ice itself has changed a lot during our time drilling. It went from slightly brittle to impressively brittle, to now what we call “ductile ice.” The ice is under so much pressure at the depths we drill that the bubbles disappear and the trapped gasses actually become part of the ice crystal lattice. This is called clathrate-hydrates. We’ve noticed an appreciable decrease of breaks in the ice, and it no longer shatters spontaneously. This is good news! As Dave hinted, the arrival of ductile ice will allow us to change our drilling and core handling procedures, becoming faster and more efficient.

Last night, while we were enjoying a science lecture on the NEEM project in Greenland by Bruce, the camp manager came into the Rec Tent and informed everyone that we’d get a plane at 0100 today! That’s one in the morning, for you analog types out there. What a plane means is that all the camp staff that are involved in weather observations (Jonathan), cargo & heavy equipment (Keith, Jason and Dulaigh), and fuel (Phil and Jake) as well as other functions (including camp manager Ben and asst. camp manager T-Bird) have to stay up through the whole period of time when the plane arrives, gets unloaded and loaded with cargo and passengers (“pax” in Antarctic lingo), and finally leaves. The plane took off from McMurdo bound for WAIS, then we had a thick fog roll in… as you may imagine, the plane could not land here and instead went to offload some fuel at the South Pole! So the one pax onboard got a free ride to the Pole, and all the passengers who hurriedly packed up in order to take the 0100 plane back to McMurdo had to stay up all night and then go back to sleep… as best they could! The bad news for camp staff was that we were scheduled for another flight today—meaning the whole rigmarole all over again. We had some pretty tired RPSC staff at camp today. Our blustery, foggy weather has stayed here, though, and pretty soon the flight got canceled. Looks like we’ll enjoy the company of Sylvain, Sridar and the CReSIS folks for another day!

This evening after a delicious dinner of BBQ pork, corn bread, garlicky kale, potatoes, and a few other things including dessert of flourless chocolate torte, I headed out to one of the arch-shaped tents (called a Polar Haven) to practice a song for next Sunday’s coffee house. This past coffee house was such a successful event that all of camp wanted to do it again! It sounds like we’ll have a lot of great acts, including some new performers. I’m working on a John Prine song with Jonathan, the “Lumberjack” of last week. I may also do some improv comedy with Giff, John F., and Jonathan, which should be fun. We goof around enough that it shouldn’t be too hard to make a show of it.

Thanks for reading! I’m off to bed….