Shoveling at the South Pole

At 5:45 AM the sun is perpendicular to the DA observation deck and the light shines down the hallway, brightening up our mornings. This morning I walked out of the computer lab with a cup of coffee and took a moment to enjoy the blinding light.

It has been clear and warm (-55 F) over the last several days.

Long shadows extend from our station's structure.

The sun won't set for at least 5 months.

We have two weeks before the first plane arrives and hopefully it arrives with fresh fruit. We are working around the clock to shovel away by hand doorways, heaters, pipes and tanks while the big dozers groom the fields and runways. The winds don't help us any, they only create more snow drifts.

Besides shoveling we have also been hauling in food from the berms. Here's Debzilla tweaking a cargo strap back together... after gathering several premade pizza crust cases.

Once we pulled the cases of food out of the triwalls we drove around and picked them up.

Those boxes are the breaded mozo cheese sticks.

Every time I go out there it's some kind of freezing adventure.



Summer has Started

The sun is now several degrees above the horizon and it's shinning with all it's glory. So blessed are we to have clear skies to embrace the sun once again. The summer mainbody session has begun at McMurdo Station, which means researchers from all over the world are making their way to Antarctica to do their studies. On the contrary, after one year of cooking in the name of science, I'm prepping myself to make my way out of this icy wonderland. I haven't started packing just yet, but I at least thought about it.

Weather balloons are launched routinely, checking the status of the ozone hole and other atmospheric properties. From what we've seen so far the ozone hole hasn't made much formation. Why? Possibly due to a hot stratosphere. This winter has been colder than the last couple years, and in those warmer winter years the ozone hole had made significant formation by this time in the season. Since it's been colder at ice level that signals that there isn't much atmospheric mixing going on between the stratopshere and troposphere. Hot air isn't making it's way down to the surface. It is likely that the circumpolar vortex isn't well deformed, air parcels from higher latitudes are sitll making their way in, CFCs and ozone molecules aren't as contained. Too hot of a stratosphere would stop the creation of polar stratospheric clouds, which enables the depletion of ozone. A dude yesterday said that whenever it's really hot in the US it's usually really cold down here. Polar opposites.

The IceCube cartel did a global teleconference yesterday with 1,000s of physicists for the Researchers' Night 2010. They discussed what their role is in regards to neutrino research.

One last Open Mic.

And now a tour of our front and backyard.


A Super Sunrise

I'll let the photos speak for themselves. The only change that I am personally experiencing deals with the 24/7 light outside. Unlike winter, my body and mind yearn to do something active constantly rather than sleep a lot. Light seems to penetrate every crevasse in my room... subconsciously, I know my eyes/retina register the light while lying in bed thus alter hormones, i.e., decrease in melotonin production. To compensate, I shovel snow for many hours outside after kitchen work and due to that I am rapidly adjusting to the sunlight. My goal: gather a few hours of direct sunlight by shoveling snow under the sun and then retreat to a somewhat dark bedroom. Eventually my body/mind will get back to the circadium rhythm I had one year ago... roughly 12 hours in a day and 12 hours in a night vs. 6 months of day and 6 months of night.