22 January, 1999

Friday, January 22nd , 1999, South Pole Station

I hope you all had a good day.

The wind increased over night to a maximum of 32 knots here. With temperatures not lower that - 22 C again. With the wind chill, we calculated a temperature of almost -50C. When I woke up, I could hear the wind outside the Jamesway and the canvas inside was moving. Many of you have asked me what my living quarters look like. Here is a little description with a photo session at the end of the journal.

Jamesway at summer camp:

'The summer camp' is about 15 - 20 min walks from the dome. You have seen a photo with the Jamesways lined up in a row. The wood/canvas constructions are insulated and each one has a separated heating room attached. The heated air is vented into the Jamesway. Each Jamesway sleeps about 10 - 12 people at the maximum. Right now we have several 'sleeping cubicles' vacant because we are near the clothing of the station. The sleeping rooms are aligned in two rows with a walk way in the middle. They are separated from each other with a wooden wall and a heavy canvas curtain can close the side to the walkway. I am at Jamesway 5, cubicle 7. I have no occupant across of me because the space is used for the ventilation system. However, there is a window across of my room that is covered with a blanket. My room is big enough for a single bed, a chair and wooden shelves for my closing. The light from a night lamp makes the room feel cozy. On one of the walls a hang a calendar and on my bed I placed a stuffed penguin which I brought from home. The pictures I posted of the inside of the Jamesway will describe it much better.

Of course, we were not able to launch a balloon at all. The visibility was very low in this white-out. It was difficult to make out the BIF and the station. We met at the BIF anyway to discuss the possibility of a later launch.

During the morning, I emailed and answered lots of questions from students. I love receiving all different questions and being able to share this experience. One question from a young student was parcticularly thought provoking in a different way and I would like to share it with you all. The question was if I disturb the ice palace here in the Antarctic. This gave me to think and I dreamed about it and hoped that I did not do any harm to the ice palace by being here. I wonder if the South Station pushed the palace to a different place. Something to think about itů!

After lunch, Bryan and I worked on the data files and tried different ways to transfer the data to each other's computer. I think we found away to share the data with schools. The rest of the day was filled with answering questions to emails. 5pm at ARO for 'slushies' brought friends of different departments together. Getting there was not so easy since it was still blowing out there. It was amazing how much snow was blowing without actually snowing. It only snows about 1 - 2 inches per year at the South Pole. Dinner was outstanding again with lots of deserts: cookies and my favorite cheesecake.

Visiting an ozone -related research lab which uses a millimeter spectroscope:

After dinner, I went to see Bob deZafra in his lab at the dark sector. Dr. Bob deZafra, who is from State University of New York Stony Brook, studies stratospheric gases that contribute to the development of the Antarctic ozone hole. One of these gases is chlorine monoxide, ClO, which is a product of the destruction of stratospheric ozone by chlorine. ClO enters the stratosphere as a result of the breakdown of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). ClO, as well as other trace stratospheric gases can be measured from the ground by millimeter-wave receivers. In this way, the chlorine concentration can be measured along a given altitude in the stratosphere. How can one determine the concentration of a gas using a wavelength? Many stratospheric gases radiate energy in the millimeter-wavelength region of the radio spectrum and each gas molecule has its own unique spectrum. This specific radiation is converted into a frequency, which can be measured. The intensity of the radiation determines the concentration of the gas. Ozone is also measured this way for different altitudes in order to determine the background emission. If you have further questions, you may contact Dr. deZafra at: rdezafra@sunysb.edu. It amazes me how every building here at the pole contains so many research groups. As I struggled through the wind toward the dome, I thought about a very basic question:

What is ozone?

Ozone derives from ordinary oxygen (O2). It is the most important trace constituent in the stratosphere. Although it is present in relative concentrations of no more than a few parts per million, it is such an efficient absorber of ultra violet light (UV light) that it is the largest source of heat in the atmosphere at altitudes between about 10 km and 50 km. UV absorption by ozone causes the temperature inversion that is responsible for the existence of the stratosphere. (see your plots of temperature and altitude, see also CMDL's web page at wwwcmdl.noaa.gov ). Ozone is also an important radiator, with strong emission bands in the 9.6 mm infrared region. In the UV-B region (290 - 315 nm) it absorbs with an efficiency that increases exponentially with decreasing wavelength, and so strongly that at 290 nm the radiation at the ground is reduced by more than a factor of 10 to the 4th from that above the ozone layer. This strong variation of absorption efficiency with wavelength in the UV-B region is the basis of the Dobson operational method (see journal 1/14) Ozone is the main source of the highly reactive OH radical, which causes the removal of many organic molecules from the atmosphere. In the troposphere, it is also a pollutant, which means that its natural concentration is increased by human activity. Because its extra oxygen bond can be easily broken, ozone is a strong oxidant that is both corrosive to materials and toxic to plants and animals. A principal of human smog, it is produced in and downwind of urban centers by photochemical reactions involving organic hydrocarbons and oxides of nitrogen. Some intrusions of stratospheric air are also a significant source of ozone in the troposphere.

On the way home it was still very windy. I bundled up and I took pictures in the storm, glad that I had all my Extreme Weather Gear on. Would we be able to launch a balloon tomorrow? Back at the computer center, I finished answering the last emails and I made it to bed around midnight the first time. I kept thinking about the ozone hole and wondered who and how it was discovered. Dave Hoffman was due tomorrow back from his trip to McMurdo and I will ask him. Until thenů.


Inside the jamesway. I am looking out of my 'room'.


In my 'room' inside the jamesway.


I am ready to leave my cozy corner for the blizzard.


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