Did you guess that the image was of the inside of an airplane? The airplane, or C-17, that takes passengers back from the ice to New Zealand is pretty neat inside. All of the vents, cables, and wires are exposed so you can really see the 'innards' of the airplane. It is fascinating to see how many wires it takes to keep a plane operating!
This is an image of the inside of a C-17 airplane. All of these wires, vents, and cables allow the plane to operate properly.
It was a sad day as we left Antarctica. It is always so surprising when the season so rapidly comes to an end. Just a few days ago, I was sleeping out in the middle of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Now, I am in the heat, moisture, and dark of New Zealand! You can travel so far, to such varied places, in a very short period of...
My first Antarctic penguins!
I arrived in McMurdo after an uneventful cold deck flight from WAIS Divide. The last ice collected this season is now in McMurdo, safely in the SafeCore refrigeration units.
It was a magical moment as we broke through the clouds and I saw mountains for the first time in two months. Clear skies and breathtaking views of Mt. Erebus were a fabulous "welcome back!". To top off the excitement of being back in McMurdo, there were Emperor Penguins near the runway! I hadn't seen any penguins in Antarctica yet. It was a real treat to end the season with some beautiful Antarctic wildlife.
Emperor Penguins with the Royal Society Range in the background. It was such a treat to see wildlife!
I am off to bed now after a quick bite to eat! It was a 3.5 hour flight and...
Today I leave WAIS Divide. In a matter of hours I will be on Ross Island at McMurdo Station. I am leaving before the rest of the crew as I have been selected to travel with the last pallets of ice cores. I will fly on a cold deck, where the plane will be cooled to at least -10 C. This season, we have people monitoring the temperatures during cold decks. On today's flight, it will be my duty to get temperature readings ever thirty minutes during the 3.5 hour flight.
Even though I am sad to leave WAIS, I know that I am doing an important job by going early with the last cold deck of the season. The rest of drill and science crews will leave camp on January 31st. Soon, we will all be heading north to Christchurch and then back to the U.S. It is hard to believe the season is already coming...
Many aspects of life change when you move to an ice sheet to camp for over two months. Some of these changes, like sleeping in a tent outside or working in a freezer at -30 C all day, are difficult to adjust to, but soon they become normal. Being in a relatively small camp with the same ~35 people also fosters great friendships. As I prepare to leave WAIS Divide, I have spent quite a bit of time reflecting on the season and what I'll miss about my life on the ice.
Here are the top five:
1) My ice family.
The drillers and science crew celebrating the last ice core of the season.
Francie, one of our wonderful cooks, and Heidi out on the ice sheet. I will miss spending time with my WAIS friends
2) The fresh air and sleeping in a tent.
I am going to miss sleeping in my tent and all of...
The final drill depth for the 2010-2011season is 3,331.538 meters. We've officially reached our goal! Given the challenges of the season, we were all relieved and thrilled to reach our goal! The Camp staff, drillers, and the science team all witnessed the last core come to the surface. It was certainly a grand celebration. Now that we are done drilling, we will log and pack the last cores and get them to McMurdo so they can catch the vessel.
We also have to clean up and prepare for camp to be taken apart for the winter. Soon, we will all be in McMurdo preparing to travel home. Until then, the smiles and celebration will continue. There was certainly doubt earlier in the season that we would be able to reach our goal. WAIS Divide is now the second deepest ice core in the world. Through...
Once the ice is collected and packed, as described in the Packing Ice journal entry, the ice will travel over 10,000 miles back to the United States.
The journey begins when the ice is removed from the arch. Each air force pallet is forked to the flight line about 45 minutes prior to the plane's departure from WAIS Divide.
The ice cores beginning their long journey back to the United States.
Each flight that transports ice is cooled down so that the ice cores don't warm up. A cold deck is usually about -10 to -15 C. The cores are packed with snow in insulated boxes so the interior of the boxes remain much colder (around -20 C). The flight from WAIS to McMurdo, where the ice is put back in -30 C freezers, is approximately 3.5 hours. It usually takes a little over an hour for the ice to...
Given that we are so far away from food sources, we don't have any real wild animals at WAIS Divide. However, there are several animal suits in camp. Our zoo includes three gorillas, two penguins, one red panda, one moose, one unicorn, one skunk, and a bear. The bear was a hit in the arch. Our resident bear even helps with packing and logging ice cores! Dressing up and having fun is an integral part of surviving a long season at WAIS. We certainly have lots of fun and share numerous laughs throughout the season. It will be sad to see this season end in a couple of weeks!
Our resident bear helping pack ice cores. A highlight of the work week is coming to work dressed up in a goofy costume.
Part of the WAIS zoo leaving the arch after a hard day at work.
The item in mystery photo #9 is an ice core box. These ice core boxes are special insulated boxes that we pack ice cores in for transport back to the United States. Each box holds four, one meter cores. In addition to the insulation of the box, we also pack the boxes with snow. The ice cores will travel over 10,000 miles from the time they leave WAIS Divide and arrive in Colorado at the National Ice Core Laboratory. The cores are always maintained at -20C or colder throughout the entire journey, helping to minimize any damage or alteration of the cores that may impact the scientific analyses.
The basic ice core packing puzzle:
1) Each three meter core is cut into one meter sections.
A three meter long core prior to being cut.
A one meter section of ice core.
2) The meter sections...
Today was a historic day for the U.S. ice core drilling community. The WAIS Divide ice core is now longest American drilled ice core in history! At 12:02 a.m. we drilled to a depth of 3056 meters, surpassing the goal set in Greenland at the GISP2 drill site (~3,053 meters). We are all thrilled to reach this goal! We are still drilling deeper and keep getting closer to our goal of 3,330 meters.
Along with a celebration of this ice core we also celebrated my birthday! I couldn't have asked for a better birthday present!
Ice from what is now the deepest American drilled ice core in history.
My friends cut out snow blocks to celebrate my birthday.
e celebrate the ice core and my birthday we a delicious angel food cake. Yum!
Did you guess that the object in mystery photo #8 is a weather balloon?
Here is the complete photo of the weather balloon. Jonathan, one of our weather observers, fills the weather balloons with helium and then releases them to check the height of the ceiling.
Weather balloons are used frequently out at WAIS Divide. They are primarily used to measure the height of the ceiling, or height of clouds, so we can determine if it is safe for planes to land. The balloons are filled with a fixed volume of helium. Once the balloon is released, our weather observers check the elevation of the balloon at a one minute intervals until the balloon is out of sight. This allows them to determine the height of the ceiling. According to our weather observer, Jonathan, the average ceiling height for the...
Today was a monumental day for the DISC drill and science crews. We finally reached a depth of 3,000 meters. We have now collected 3,000 meters of ice and are still going strong towards our 3,330 meter depth goal. The 3,000 meter was celebrated in the arch with smiles and a toast to our achievement. Reaching this depth, given the technical challenges of the season, is a real success. Once we reach 3,054 meters, the WAIS Divide core will be the deepest American drilled ice core in history! It is a real privilege to be a part of this amazing project.
Heidi with the 3,000 meter deep ice core!
Drillers and core handlers celebrating the 3,000th meter of WAIS Divide ice.
The 2010-2011 ice core handling crew. We are all thrilled that we reached the 3,000 meter mark.
Ice cream on an ice sheet may seem like a readily available luxury. After all, there is no shortage of freezer space! However, there we have no access to ice cream unless we make it. To solve the ice cream shortage, my friend John and I whipped up some using an ice cream ball (see pictures below).
John and the pink ice cream ball
Here is our recipe (remember, we can't just run down the street to the store):
1 cup powdered milk
2 cups water
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup coffee
Lots of love!
We mixed all of the ingredients together and then placed them in the ice cream ball, which was packed with snow. We then rolled, kicked, and bowled the ball around camp for about an hour. After it sat for an hour longer...
We are a small community out here at WAIS Divide. We eat, work, sleep, and live in very close proximity for over two months. It can often be difficult to live in these conditions, especially since there is minimal personal space. However, living in such a close knit community makes us stronger when we have to face challenges. This week we depended on our strength as a group.
On Sunday night, the DISC (Deep Ice Sheet Coring) drill broke in the borehole. In basic terms, the cable connected to the drill got twisted about 600 meters down the hole. As a result, the twisted drill cable needed to be removed and at two pounds per meter, it was no small task. The cable is critical to the entire operation because it is the mode of communication between the drill and the computers that the...
Here are WAIS we don't have a mailbox. Instead we have what we call a Cruise Box. A cruise box arrives on each flight to WAIS and sometimes contains mail for members of the camp.
Believe it or not, there is a Post Office in McMurdo. This PO serves McMurdo and most of the U.S. field camps. As a result, my friends and family can send me packages. It takes about three weeks for mail to arrive at WAIS Divide. That's not bad considering how far the mail must travel in order to get out into the middle of this ice sheet! Once the mail arrives by airplane in McMurdo, it is sorted and then put in the WAIS Divide Cruise Box.
The Cruise Box was full of goodies today! Thank you to all of you who sent mail!
Every week we have approximately two flights to WAIS Divide. Aside from fresh food, or...
This season we have been blessed with a wealth of great weather. It even reached +25F today! That is balmy for us cold weather lovers! With air temperatures that high, many folks are measuring temperatures in their tents around +95F! Wow- that is HOT! As a result, many of us are sleeping with the windows and doors of our tents wide open!
However, clouds rolled in again this evening prompting me to take some photos of how the lighting can change so dramatically on the flat white of the West Antarctic ice sheet. Standing in the same place this morning and then as I went to bed, I captured two drastically different photos.
In the first, taken this morning when the sun was out, it is easy to see the horizon and footprints in the snow. The shadows created by the sun provide definition in the...
Similar to last year, I surmise that many folks are curious about our restroom facilities. Having running water to toilets is too energy intensive and not logistically feasible in a camp this size. Instead, we have several outhouses, or black boxes. We have a total of 7 outhouses throughout camp. Holes are made using hot air and shovels, then an outhouse is placed over top. When the season is over, the outhouse is removed and the holes are covered with snow. Here is a little tour of my favorite outhouse:
Our main line-up of outhouses. These outhouses are located in town, near the galley. The other outhouses are out in Tent City and near the drill arch.
Outhouse #1, my favorite of all outhouses.
The seat and penguin cover inside the outhouse. Most of the seat covers are creative- we...
To bring in the New Year, the camp had a day off! What did we do to enjoy the day? Many of us caught up on much needed sleep and then spent the day relaxing and goofing around. To enjoy the nice weather, my friend John and I went golfing. Antarctic golfing is a bit difficult primarily because the golf balls can freeze and then shatter when you hit them with a golf club. We also have to chase the golf balls as they roll across the ice sheet! I am not exactly sure why we have a set of golf clubs out here on the West Antarctic ice sheet, but it was quite fun to host an Antarctic Open! My new nickname is Tiger!
Happy New Year's from the icy south!
We found time to sit in the sun and enjoy the nice weather!
My buddy John golfing on the ice sheet.
How do we get the ball? We run and chase...
Did you guess that is was a generator? Mystery photo #6 is a photo of part of one of our Cat generators that is used to power camp and the drill arch.
At home it is often easy to take advantage of the access to electricity. Here at WAIS, we are much like a mini city, requiring lots of power to run camp and the drill arch. We also have back-up systems in place to ensure we have continuous power. The camp is powered by two Cat generators. They use about 2,400 gallons of fuel a week! Our camp mechanic, Shawn, is responsible for the maintenance and operation of these generators. It is certainly no small task keeping our camp power up and running. These generators provide us with electricity for lights, cooking appliances, and computers. More importantly, the generators power our...
Sorry about the delay on Mystery photos! Our satellite internet connection was acting up! Can you guess what is in this photo?
Can you guess what this is? It is critical for both camp and the drill arch. Happy brainstorming!
You may be wondering how we sleep in the cold or what our tents look like. Most of us sleep in tents called Arctic Ovens. Arctic Ovens are 8 x 8 foot tents made with a white cloth body and yellow nylon fly. To keep the tents from blowing away in the wind, we stake them out in several places and cover the flaps of the tent fly with snow. This primarily prevents snow from blowing between the tent fly and tent body. Snow tends to get into everything out here!
My Arctic Oven is on the edge of Tent City. I have quite the view when I wake up in the morning!
For warmth, we place four sheets of blue foam under the tent. The foam keeps the tents off of the snow surface, keeping the tent warmer. Inside the tent, I have two sleeping mats that keep me up off of the surface, providing yet another...
This site is supported by the National Science Foundation under award 0956825. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this site are those of the PIs and coordinating team and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.