Saturday, December 25, 2010

3rd Christmas in Antarctica!

Merry Christmas from WAIS Divide, Antarctica.............again.

Yep. 3rd year in a row where I've exchanged gifts thousands of miles from civilization. This year's was the best WAIS Christmas yet. With only 37 people at camp, it was a very nice celebration. I got a nice new hand-knit wool hat in the gift exchange. The chefs here again shocked-and-awed us with the dinner. We have three new and very different cooks this year and they floored us last night with the meal. We were treated to Lobster, Fillet Mignon, Cheese Fondue, Flourless chocolate-raspberry tart cake, Red wine, good laughs, and good people. We even had a TV playing a looping DVD of a fireplace at the end of the table. It was fantastic. With that said however, I couldn't help but let my mind wander back home. This year was certainly one of the hardest to be away for the Holidays. We make the best of the situations we are put in

So enjoy the holidays everyone, be it Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Ramadan....or as some of us call it Rama-Hanu-Kwanz-Mas :-D
Tell your parents you love them, hug a friend, help someone with their groceries, be thankful for all that you've been given, and keep on enjoying the most precious gift of all....this wonderful life you've been given.

I am thankful for so many wonderful things I've been able to do this year and most importantly, for all the wonderful people in my life., time to go drill some ice cores! Yay for Science!

Friday, December 17, 2010

That's a nice piece of ash

...and we're in production mode here at WAIS Divide. Today was our first full day of drilling, and it went really well. On our first core up, we discovered this beauty. A 1cm thick, dark ash layer. At this depth, that 1cm would have been almost 4cm at the surface....that's a lot of ash. We're talking one heck of an eruption nearby. Not sure which Volcano just yet, but I surmise either Mt. Takahe, Mt. Berlin, or another from West Antarctica.

Tomorrow we have our 2nd annual Sea-level beach party, should be fun. Otherwise, not much new to report. another science group rolled in to town today that is doing a traverse around West Antarctica to drill small cores and dig snow pits.

pushing ahead...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Snowblowing at WAIS

Hi again from WAIS Divide, Antarctica. Not much new to report on the science front other than drilling may start today! The drillers and Ice Core Lab reps just have a few software patches to install, and we can begin.

On the side, I completely finished sampling the snowpit and have entered all the data. This is a nice weight off my back as it is always stressful hoping bad weather doesn't drift in the pits. Now it can drift in all it wants.

The heavy machine operators cleared out the tertiary door for the drilling arch using the pisten-bully with the giant snowblower attachment (Zogg?). It's really amazing to watch it go. The snow it shoots out looks all fluffy and light, but it really is fully of icy, dense chunks. You wouldn't want to be under it...that's for sure.

That's it for now.

Loving life...but missing home


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Snowpitting in West Antarctica

Yet again I find myself digging away. This year's 2-meter snow pit was dug in a single day thanks to the help of some fellow science techs and grad students. I've already taken density and isotope samples and will be doing some demethyl pthalate sampling tomorrow.

We've packed up the last of the ice cores form last year and they will be shipping out on tomorrow's flight. Things are going pretty well overall, and the drillers are really close to starting some test runs. NSF reps will be arriving at camp tomorrow to evaluate the site and the project....we are all on our best behavior.

Earlier today the folks on the Pine Island Glacier traverse rolled through town in 3 Challengers and a Tucker. It was quite the motorcade.

We finally got workable internet here, so I was able to check my gmail account (albeit very very slowly).

Today is Sunday at camp, so we all are taking the day off. I've been organizing PCT photos and writing lots of postcards and letters.

That's about it...

...moving ahead...

Friday, December 10, 2010

Beautiful Blue Day in West Antarctica

The beautiful wide open West Antarctic Ice Sheet. We're here and we are prepping to drill some ice core. The past week has been all about clean up. This past winter was not kind to the camp and a lot of heavy drifting buried everything. So...over the last 6 days, we've spent cleaning the ice core arch and prepping last year's ice (that we stored in the basement) for shipment. Today, 256 meters of core were sent out on an LC-130 herc cold-deck flight. It's a good feeling knowing that another batch of very important scientific data have begun their journey back to the laboratories in the States.

Anyhoo, we are looking to start drilling in about 5 days! Looking forward to the start of what is supposed to our final season. Still can't believe i've been here three years in a row now. Almost feels like a second home.

There will be a polar-trec satellite phone media event live from our camp that I will be a part of on Dec 16th. I will have more details soon but anyone call go online to view the slideshow and phone in to our number to hear us live. The plan is for us to talk about camp life in Antarctica and to give a primer on ice-core science.

shoot me an email if you're bored too and let me know if you want a postcard from Antarctica!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

WAIS Divide, Antarctica - Take 3

Welcome again to the great flat white! After 12 days slumming around McMurdo, we finally got a flight out to WAIS Divide. It's a good thing too, as weather has turned quite foul in Mactown.

I again have very limited email access at camp, but no real internet this year (it's supposedly there, but doesn't really work). Luckily, I can still send small emails to my blogger/flickr account (like I did on the PCT) and have them posted here! Unfortunately, the pics have to be limited to 50k or they will be low-res for sure. Which reminds me, for family and friends that have asked...It does get rather lonely out here in the middle of nowhere, so feel free to send emails my way if you feel like it (or if you want a postcard - let me know). My temporary WAIS account (limited to 50k size emails incoming too) is:

We have been cleaning, preparing and training for what should be our final season down here. Ice-coring should begin in about a week. This year I will not be taking physical properties samples in the field, but will be working as a science tech and core handler. I am also digging a snow pit, taking density and water isotope samples, taking permeability samples, drilling a small 4 meter firn core, and measuring insolation (long and shortwave). I hope to do a surface energy balance study at some point down the line.

Well....wish us luck on a successful season!

(pic is of tent city - where we sleep. My tent is the yellow one :-)