21 November, 2005
Hello from the Ice!
At McMurdo Research Station in Antarctica!
Tomorrow we head for the Pony Lake field site for the first time and my first glimpse of the penguin rookery. I can’t wait! We have been instructed on how to behave around the penguins. Remember, according to the Antarctic Conservation Act, we cannot do anything to alter the behavior of these beautiful birds. If they approach us, that is fine. According to people who have been here before, they seem to think we are just big penguins doing funny things.
We have to wear full Extreme Cold Weather (ECW) gear at the field site. The first layer of protection is either silk or polypropylene ling underwear. These are both lightweight fabrics that are very warm. The rule in Antarctica is "No COTTON!" First Layer:
In the background is Mt. Erebus, an active volcano that has become more active lately with frequent eruptions of lava and gas. You can see the steam cloud above the mountain.
Second Layer: This layer consists of heavier polypropylene long underwear and polypropylene gloves, hat, and UV protection glasses:
The Third Layer consists of a fleece top and pants:
Final Layer: The outermost layer consists of windpants and goose down filled, coyote fur lined heavy parka, wind blocker hat, neck gaiter, wind blocker fur-backed mittens, white "bunny"boots, and UV goggles.
Today is working in the lab preparing solutions and chemicals for the lake water and ice core samples we hope to bring back from Pony Lake tomorrow.
Grad student Kaelin preparing solutions (wearing a poorly tie-dyed labcoat):
We also had to visit “the cage” to find survival bags (in case bad weather comes in while we are there), and sleds (to haul around equipment and blocks of ice).
Grad student Markus in the cage checking out camp supplies:
and the supply room for food, backpacks, thermoses, and P bottles (NO body wastes can touch the ground here…bring it back in a plastic bottle for treatment). The people in the supply rooms are VERY friendly and helpful!
We will be driving to Pony Lake in a Pisten Bully transporter, along with one Skidoo to carry supplies. The drive will take several hours. We are also taking along some extra workers to help us clear away the three feet of hard snow covering the lake in the areas we want to sample. The lake is still frozen underneath, but my research team wants to try to get some ice cores.
Loading up the transporter:
Current Conditions at McMurdo Station
A low pressure system over the Ross Sea means variable conditions. Right now it is beautiful and I hope it holds for tomorrow’s field exercise!
Sunny, few clouds
Light winds (~12-14 knots)
Temperature: 10 oF/ -12 oC with a wind chill factor bringing it to -13 oF
Pressure: 29.315 inHg
Sunset: February 20 at 1:38 am