9 November, 1997

9 November 97


Condition I for the Ice runway, ice road, Williams field, snow raod, road to Williams field.

Condition III Mcurdo, Scott base, Road to Scott base, Arrival heights, T-Site.

REGIONAL WEATHER SUMMARY...A low north of Marie Byrd land is spreading an extensive area of cloud and snow across the Ross Ice shelf and into the McMurdo area. Gusty winds will gradually diminish overnight but periods of snow and blowing snow will continue to produce visibility reductions at times.

TONIGHT...Cloudy with periods of light snow and blowing snow. Visibility: 4-6 miles.

Wind (knots): Southeast 15 to 25.

Temperature steady near -05/+23F Lowest Wind-chill -26C/-15F.

MONDAY...Mostly cloudy with occasional periods of light snow. Some blowing snow on the sea ice.

Visibility: Unrestricted occasionally 3-6 miles in blowing snow. Wind (knots): Southeast 10-15.

Temperature steady near -05/+23F Lowest Wind-chill -26C/-15F.


Temperature steady near -6


Next sunrise in February, 1998

YESTERDAY'S EXTREMES: 08 November, 1997

Maximum Temperature: -02C/+28F

Minimum Temperature: -08C/+18 F

Peak Wind: 39 Knots

Lowest wind chill: -23C/-10F

Sunday is the one day life at McMurdo is recognizably different from any other day. The pace of life is a little slower and people are more likely to engage in personal activity and recreation. This was a beautiful day and the temperature was downright balmy hanging in the mid 20's F all day and night (which are the same thing here).

It's funny how relative the temperature is. On Scott's expedition in 1911 one party routinely hauled sledges in -70 F. degree temperatures and looked forward to the days when it was -50F because they were so warm. Back at my home in Buffalo I would think winter temperatures in the 40's were downright hot spells, yet if it went into the 50's during the summer months the cold was intolerable. Here in Antarctica if one mentally prepares for the cold and dresses appropriately it's quite tolerable. Nevertheless it is a real treat to experience a day of truly beautiful weather like we had today.

I slept in and did some laundry before going to brunch at 11:00AM. After brunch I decided to go to Scott Base, which is operated by New Zealand, and not far away. When I returned I met Sandy Shutey who is another teacher in this program. She has just arrived in McMurdo and is on her way to the large field camp at Siple Dome. She will be parcticipating in a major ice core study involving factors which affect how chemicals interact with the polar ice sheet. You can find out more about this by going to her web page on this site.

The Cape Roberts Drilling Project had an open house today in their Crary Lab facility. I discussed this project in my journal entry of 28 October and detailed how the big storm of 23 October (see journal entry for 23 October) caused this international project to be shut down. The scientists involved with the project put together a wonderful open house for the McMurdo community. They gave tours, explained their research, had demonstrations and hands-on opportunities to look at microfossils recovered from the cores, and even had sections of the cores on display. I returned to the lab to catch up on some odds and ends then headed to the galley for dinner.

It is customary to have a lecture after Sunday dinner. This week's lecture was by Dr. Peter Barrett who is the scientist that heads the Cape Roberts Project. His talk described the historical development of the project and its scientific goals. As mentioned in other entrys, more than 50 scientists from 28 institutions representing 6 countries are involved in this undertaking.

These scientists had their drill rig set up on the seasonal ice near Cape Roberts. They drilled through the ocean floor and hoped to recover core samples from strata which would give them information about the beginnings of formation of the continental ice sheet. This was thought to have occurred about 30 million years ago. When the project had to be terminated this season they had drilled through strata which date to about 22 million years. Analysis of this material indicated that the sediments were consistent with what would be expected if glaciation had been a factor in their deposition. This can be deduced by the deposition patterns and the composition and distribution of rocks in these sediments. They therefore had not reached strata which predate the ice sheet before the project had to be shut down. Next year they will try again.

Things to ponder:

Research how scientists use coring techniques to learn about rock strata.

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