28 October, 1997

28 October 97

CONDITION III for all locations.

REGIONAL WEATHER SUMMARY...Glacial outflow has developed overnight and is pumping dry plateau air onto the Ross Ice Shelf with full force. The dry air will make for a cool, but sunny day in McMurdo.

TODAY...Mainly sunny.

Visibility: Unrestricted.

Wind (knots): East 5-10 becoming northeast 10-15 this morning. Temperature falling to -18C/zero F. Lowest Wind-chill -33C/-28F

TONIGHT...Mainly sunny.

Visibility: Unrestricted.

Wind (knots): Northeast 10-15.

Low -23C/-09F. Lowest Wind-chill -38C/-37F

Wednesday...Sunny with afternoon cloudy periods.

Visibility: Unrestricted.

Wind (knots): Northeast 15.

Temperature steady near -21C/-06F. Lowest Wind-chill -42C/-43F


Temperature falling to -22C today and remaining steady overnight.


Next sunrise in February, 1998

YESTERDAY'S EXTREMES - 27 October, 1997

Maximum Temperature: -10C/+14F

Minimum Temperature: -17C/+01 F

Peak Wind: 39 Knots

Lowest wind chill: -33C/-27F

Testing the citrate synthase assay was an important thing to have accomplished today. One thing led to another and before I knew it I was running out of time. I ran the assay using tube feet material for which I already have respiration and protein data. Three hours into the experiment it was pretty obvious that something wasn't working right. I suspect that the level of protein is too low for the assay to detect. During the course of the experiment I had kept the reaction on ice. I decided to let the reaction run awhile at room temperature before terminating it and was able to detect a difference. I will need to repeat this tomorrow using some very concentrated protein samples.

There is a major international drilling project going on in Antarctica this season off Cape Roberts which is located about 100 miles north of McMurdo on what is known as the Scott Coast of the Ross Sea. More than 50 scientist from 28 institutions representing Australia, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the USA joined forces to build a large drilling rig on the sea ice off the coast of Cape Roberts. They were to drill into the ice and through about 1500 meters sea floor strata. The recovered cores would span times from about 100 - 30 million years ago.

The international team of scientists hoped the data would provide important information which would help them date the rifting of the Antarctic continent and the formation of the Transantarctic Mountain Range. They also hope to be able to better determine when the ice sheets formed in Antarctica causing fluctuations in worldwide sea levels.

When I first arrived at McMurdo I would see many of these scientists working around the Crary Laboratory making preparations to begin the drilling operation. After a week or so most of them had left McMurdo for the field. There was a lot of enthusiasm here for what these scientists were going to do and an appreciation for the enormous scope of the project itself.

The big storm of 23 October caused considerable breakup of the sea ice near Cape Roberts. As a result the ice edge is now less than 5 kilometers from the drilling rig. Since the sea ice is the actual drilling platform for the rig the situation has become dangerous. Another storm would almost certainly cause the breakup of the ice supporting the drill rig. The rig was therefore dismantled and the project halted.

The scientists are again working in the Crary Lab. You can imagine the disappointment they must have. There has been an enormous amount of money, time, and effort spent on this project to date, yet most of them will be leaving for home soon. Such is the nature of science.

Things to ponder:

1. What was Gondwana?

2. How long ago did it exist?

3. What happened to it?

4. Why?

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