20 January, 1999
Wednesday, January 20th, 1999, South Pole Station.
Greetings to everyone from the South Pole! The temperature was still around minus 22 degrees of Celsius, but the wind was picking up today.
Wake up at 7:15 to be ready at 8:30 A.M. for a meeting at the BIF. We were discussing the winter-launch procedure which Andy and Joel were supposed to use during the Antarctic winter. The latex balloons used in the summer would become brittle at temperatures of -85 to -90 degrees of Celsius. The winter balloons are made out of plastic, are much larger, but durable at such temperatures. I was looking forward seeing this procedure. Today, we conditioned an ozonesonde model (2Z) for the plastic balloon launching. A different company makes this ozone model, which I introduced already earlier. It requires a few different preparatory steps, which Bryan reviewed with us.
During the rest of the day, I was working on the data files and answered more email questions. These are great questions!! Thank you. What about my questions: what is a knot and why did I walk on ancient snow? A knot is used at sea to describe the speed of wind or a ship. Why is it used in the Antarctic at the South Pole with no water around? Since members of the Navy were the first to establish a station here in the Antarctic, a lot of vocabulary remained. (Using galley for cafeteria is one of them.) A knot describes how many nautical miles a ship can cover per hour. The North - South distance on our globe is measured in minutes of latitude. One minute latitude equals one nautical mile. There are 60 minutes per degree. Lets see ---- New York is at about 43 degrees North --- adding the 90 degrees from the equator to the South Pole (we are at 90 degrees South) results to 133 degrees times 60 minutes = 7980 nautical miles times 1.15 (land mile) equals to 9 390 miles. That is how far I am from New York or any other city at that latitude. The wind was about 8 knots today; what would that be in miles per hour?
Why do I walk on ancient snow here at the South Pole? The snow has accumulated over thousand of years to a height of about 9300 feet. Scientist who study glaciers and climate take advantage of this fact and take ice cores to 'look back in history' by studying the composition of cores. Fascinating! Another interesting fact is that we are actually at a physiological altitude of 10300 feet. How do we calculate the physiological altitude? I will find out.
Today's Wednesday night lecture was about the new South Pole Station. The construction started three years ago. The science habitat will be all above surface so that snowdrift will not cover the station again like it did with the first and the present station. I would live to come back in a few years and see the new construction.
10 pm., after the lecture, Bryan and I went for another exploration on skies to visit on old plane about 1 hr ½ from the station away. We air was phantastic again except the wind had increased to 12 knots. It was more difficult coming home against the wind. But challenging. I was fast asleep by 2 a.m.
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