Friday, November 21, 2008

South Pole

Temp: -41 deg C

Wind chill: -51 deg C

Well, here I am, Capt. Splash arrives at South Pole! A few of us that had gone through training together got to spend a day or two in Christchurch. Unfortunately, we only got to spend those two days, then it was on to the ice.

We got stuck in McMurdo for about ten days due to weather conditions both at McMurdo and at Pole, which led to us taking a few opportunities to do some climbing up Observation Hill,

as well as helping out some of the scientists that were involved in observing the animals under the ice. Some of the life was like animals that I had seen before, sponges, anemones…but then there were things like this!

There was also time to venture off the base for a few hours. There was Scott Base, the New Zealand facility that was about a half hour walk away. A few of us went to some ice caves nearby that were awesome to be in.

(there is a disclaimer here, though. I have never been inside an ice cave before so I have no basis for comparison!)

Anywho, our ten days were up, and we had harassed McMurdo enough, so we begrudgingly got on a Basler, (note that the smoking snow on the other side of the plane is an active volcano, Mt Erabus) and flew for about four hours before we touched down at beautiful South Pole!!

Pole has an elevation of about 9,000 feet, which sounds great until you start to climb steps…after a couple stops you make it to the second level of wherever you are, and it starts to sink in where you are! There is a lot of science going on down here, and what the NOAA technician, Patrick(Cully), and I will be working on will deal with the atmosphere. We will run and maintain instruments that will monitor trace pollutants in the air, launch ozone balloons throughout the year, as well as collect our own air samples that will either be sent back to the US for analysis, or overseas where we have collaboration from other organizations.

While there is work to be done, there is also time for relaxing, taking a load off, or just down-right having some fun!

Things went at a pretty fast pace for the first two weeks. We had an emergency drill to conduct the day after we got here, as well as absorb as much information from the two people we are replacing down here as we could. Since we were delayed getting down here, though, the week and a half to two week turnover lasted about five days. We did have some help from an old winter-over that is back in the main office in Boulder and he just left a couple days ago. Things have started slowing down somewhat, and I am getting into a rhythm here. I am looking forward to heading into 2009 down here, and am ecstatic that I don’t have to live out of a bag for a while! This is going to be an interesting year, and I hope that people stay with either this blog or Cully’s blog into next year. We’ll try to let you know what we’re up to!


lmcohen60 said...

Good to see that you made it in one piece. Cool pictures. Looks like fun....




Heidi said...

nice blog! I'm loving the pictures. keep it coming.

Mrs. Ollie said...

Great to read that you are settling in, enjoying the balmy Antarctic summer--AND that you don't have to change rooms for awhile! Super photos, too!