25 October, 1996
Subject: Re: Journal 25 October 1996
Live from the Polar Duke for the last time in the Gerlache Strait! Location: 64.12S X 61.47W Wind Speed: 4.1 m/sec
Boat Speed: 0.0 knots Wind Direction: 297.4 degrees
Boat Heading: 14 degrees Barometer: 979.7 mb
Humidity: 61.4 % Air Temp.: -2.0 C
Salinity: 32.1 0/00 Water Temp.: -1.2 C
General Weather Conditions: Another fine day although very windy in the morning. Winds moderated in the afternoon.
OUR LAST DAY OF SAMPLING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We are all very excited and very exhausted. Most of the agenda today involves wrapping things up and tying down loose ends. We did the 0600 qnd 1800 surface sample, and we were going to deploy the little plywood crosses (production experiemnt), but was too windy this morning.
As if we weren't tired enough, the women of S-200 (our NSF cruise #), all four of us, were taking on the men of ASA in a basketball game in the hold. It was an exciting event, all work came to a grinding halt, the whole crew was there to watch. The men won, but not by much, and they had substitutes.
Since you are no doubt sick and tired of science experiments I thought I would answer some more of your questions.
These are from my buddies at Oak Hill:
1. Does the sky look any different in Antarctica?
The air is clearer in Antarctica because there is no dust and very little smoke. The sunrises and sunsets are surely spectacular and we have seen our fair share due to the hours of our work. But the sky looks pretty much the same here as it does anywhere else, the lack of ozone does not do anything to the physical appearance of the sky.
2. Are there any new lands for you to discover in Antarctica?
There might be, but I think that the only discoveries that we are going to make will be scientific. Since Antarctica was first seen in 1819, it has been fully explored and mapped.
3. What has changed since you arrived in Antarctica? How has the weather changed? How have your feelings changed? Is the time going too fast or too slow?
The greatest change that we have observed has been the number of hours of light in a day. There is light as early as 0400 and it lingers long after sunset into 2100. The coming and going of the ice has also been interesting to watch. At the beginning of our stay in the Gerlache Strait there was very little ice, now there is so much ice the ship has to make a pass through it so that we can deploy our equipment.
Since it is the very beginning of the summer, we haven't seen great increases in water temperature or changes in salinity. Later in the season the water may warm up slightly and the salinity should decrease due to the melting ice.
Initially time was going very slowly, seven weeks is a long time to be away from home. Now that we have finished most of the work the time is passing much faster. My feelings and emotions haven't changed a great deal since coming here, I'm a pretty even-keeled person. As with any situation you may face in life, there will be high points and lows.
I still feel that I am extremely lucky to experience Antarctica.
4. Since you are so close to the ozone hole we are surprised that you are not getting more sun. How much does this effect your research?
The absence or presence of the ozone hole has no impact on our daily weather. Remember, the ozone is a thin layer found in the stratosphere, which is 12 miles above the surface of the earth. Our weather is generated in the troposphere, which is the layer of the atmosphere closest to the earth.
However, the cloudy and snowy conditions do impact the study. Clouds screen out light which would normally reach the surface of the earth. On cloudy days the light does not penetrate as deeply into the water column as on clear days. Therefore damge due to UV radiation should be less on cloudy days. What we need is a day that has low ozone, clear skies and no wind in order to have maximum damage.
5. How does it feel to be under the ozone hole? (that one is from Melissa!)
It feels the same as being anywhere else, the only difference is that I'm in Antarctica and it's colder than most places! The absence or presence of ozone is not something that may be visually detected. This is one of the reasons why it took scientists so long to convince the general public, the government and the manufacturers of CFC's that the ozone layer was being damaged. It's just not something that is visable.
Thanks for the questions!
NSF Teacher in Antarctica
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