24 January, 1999

Sunday, January 24th, 1999, South Pole Station, Antarctica

What a beautiful morning we had. The temperature was still not lower than -24 C and the wind was down to 9 knots. We had clear and sunny skies all day long. It was 'shower and laundry day' for me again. The Antarctic Support Association staff had their day off and the station was very quiet -- as usually Sunday morning. I made it to my computer class from 10 - 11am. It was very useful to learn about some new systems and to get help organizing files on the major South Pole network system. This will help me to send data faster. Joel went to his yoga class and Dave worked in the office. I answered students' questions--- thank you for them all; they are great! We all (Dave, Joel and I) met for branch at 11:30 and afterwards we helped Joel in the Greenhouse. Yes, you heard correctly, we have a greenhouse that was build by volunteers 5 years ago. Joel is one of the volunteers. He takes care of the midday monitoring (testing the pH, temperature, and conductivity in the water system). Joel and his friends planted greens, some herbs, and several types of salads. The green house is located on top of one of the trailers' inside the dome. Each time Joel harvests some lettuce, the galley plans for some nice sandwiches. Walking into the greenhouse was truly a sight among this vast field of snow and ice. What a difference in sensations!

During the afternoon, I worked on the data files to be mailed to schools, edited more of the research outline, created delivery lists, and mailed some of the data files one at a time in order not to loose the data all at once incase of satellite problems. It took me longer than I thought and it was a great diversion to clear out my head while skiing for one hour before dinner.

More about Neutrinos:

Sunday night, 8p.m. science lecture was on the agenda. This time I learned more about the AMANDA project that I introduced earlier. The research is done in the Dark Sector and this talk was given by Steven Barvick . Sue Bowman, the other teacher of the TEA program is also part of the team. This project deals with neutrinos, which are parcticles that can pass through all of us and even through the Earth. The energy and the direction of these parcticles can be detected when these parcticles hit muons. When many of these muons are activated, the energy and the direction of the energy can be measured. The fascinating thing is that the telescopes for detecting these parcticles are over 200m deep in the ice, are round, and 'hang' on strings. The Earth is used as a filter, so to speak, and we are 'looking' at parcticles, which originated on the other hemisphere of the Earth. Why do we learn about it? To understand where these neutrinos come from can help us to understand the composition of the universe. Steve suggested that the neutrinos might be even made on the edge of our universe. See some of the photos I took after the lecture.

The ozone hole - why here over the Antarctic?

Dave was due leaving tomorrow for McMurdo, so we continued this science session by talking about the chemistry of the ozone depletion. The ozone hole appears here at the South Pole more pronounced than in the Arctic because of the very stable water and air circulation around the Antarctic continent and the transport of parcticles from the North to the South. If you have a look at a globe you will see what I mean. A lot of parcticles and pollutants from the North will be brought to the Antarctic and circle around the continent. This circulation is very stable and forms a vortex around the Antarctic continent during the winter months. This vortex will not be broken up until the spring when the sun rises in the Antarctic. Imagine that many parcticles and pollutants have been circulating around this continent all Antarctic winter long and are waiting to parcticipate in some sort of a reactionů.

When the sun rises, the ozone ( 03, three oxygen molecules combined) will absorb the UV light, as we know, and protect the Earth and also this continent from the UV rays. However, ozone molecules are also naturally broken down by the UV light into O2 and O and --- under normal circumstances --- would naturally reform back to ozone (O3) as well. Since pollutants have been circulating around and are ready to react, they have a chance to do so with the single oxygen. This reaction occupies one of the oxygen which -in return - is not available anymore to recombine with O2 to form O3 = the ozone layer is depleted.

I often received the question about the from of the ozone hole. If you have completed the October ' 98 ozone data set I mailed out, you probably have noticed yourself that the ozone hole forms in October. The ozone profile also revealed that most of the depletion takes place in the stratospheric layer of the atmosphere. Compare this data with the October data set averaged from the years between 67/71. You will noticed that the stratospheric ozone layer was not depleted yet and that it contained the highest amount of ozone even in the month of October. This is still the case here in the Antarctic after the month of October. This means that the ozone hole is not a solid hole from the bottom to the top of our Atmosphere.

We still have to discuss what pollutants are responsible for the ozone depletion. I will answer that tomorrow and I will also discuss more of the chemistry. I still need to find out why the depletion takes care exactly in the stratosphere. I will also introduce some of the people I am working with.

Time for bedtime. Talk to you tomorrow.


Joel and I in the greenhouse, inside the dome.


After the AMANDA lecture about neutrinos. In front of Steve the neutrino detector which will be submerged into the snow.


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