23 February, 1999

February 23, 1999

Hi from Antarctica! When I woke up this morning, we were already on our way to Sulzberger Bay. It was decided sometime during the night that we would collect seismic data during most of the transit. Although this makes our journey a little slower, it provides good data that we can use to help determine the glacial history of the area. We continued the seismic line throughout our entire shift, and the night shift will be towing seismic gear for their entire shift, too. Sometime tomorrow, we will be completing a few multibeam surveys in the area and choosing some locations in which to core.

One noticeable difference today was in the amount of ice that we saw. Until now, we saw an occasional iceberg (but it was usually off in the distance). Today, we saw lots of icebergs! In addition, we went through some patches of ice that were really neat. I tried to take pictures, but it was really gray and foggy out today, so most of them didn't turn out like I had hoped. I'm sure that this is the beginning of things to come. I'll be sure and send some nice iceberg and sea ice pictures to the web site as soon as I can. By the way, what's the difference between icebergs and sea ice? That will be the topic of tomorrow's journal.

For today, our question was "Who was Richard Evelyn Byrd?" He is best known for being the first man to successfully fly over the South Pole in 1929. He had also claimed to be the first man to fly over the North Pole in 1926, but many people believe that he missed his mark and didn't really fly over the North Pole itself. In order to raise the money for his trip to Antarctica, Richard Byrd had sponsors such as Charles Lindbergh, the National Geographic Society, and the New York Times (which gained exclusive rights to the story and had the privilege of sending its own reporter along on the expedition).

At this time in history, only two other expeditions had ever reached the South Pole, and neither one of them had used airplanes. Remember, airplanes were not as common in 1929 as they are today. Before setting off on this journey, Byrd had to have a depot of fuel set up so that the plane could make it to the South Pole and back. Byrd had taken three planes to Antarctica with him, but one plane was blown about 800 meters by high winds and crashed in a blizzard (even though it was tied down). The plane that he ended up flying to the South Pole was named "Floyd Bennett," after his North Pole pilot who had died of pneumonia earlier that year.

Byrd was the navigator of the flight. There were three other men that accompanied him aboard the Floyd Bennett -- a chief pilot, a second pilot/radio operator, and a photo surveyor. They took off on November 28, 1929, for the South Pole. They had some trouble with the plane not being able to gain enough altitude due to the cold temperatures. They ended up throwing some food overboard to lighten their load, and the pilot caught a tiny updraft near a glacier to finally give them enough lift. They found the exact location of the South Pole by using a sextant. After they arrived, they stood at the South Pole for a few seconds and then flew back to their base on the Ross Ice Shelf (after stopping to refuel at their depot). The entire trip took about 16 hours. When Byrd returned to the United States, he was a national hero. There were parades in his honor, he was promoted to Rear Admiral, and he was given a special gold medal made in his honor. Although he returned to Antarctica for four other expeditions (and some of them were much more scientific), this was Byrd's most notable achievement.

During Byrd's second expedition (1933-1935), a lot of scientific knowledge about Antarctica was learned. Byrd and his party determined that there was no strait of water connecting the Ross and Weddell Seas, which proved that Antarctica was a single continent. They also measured the depth of the ice sheet, they identified many new species of animals, and they collected a lot of data about Antarctic weather. It was while studying the weather that Byrd nearly asphyxiated himself with carbon monoxide. For this project, he was living alone in a small hut that was buried in the ice of the Ross Ice Shelf. Only the roof was above the ground. He began his research on March 28, 1934, and he maintained a tiny weather station throughout the Antarctic winter. A malfunction in his stove caused carbon monoxide fumes to build up in his hut. He was very close to death when he was rescued on August 10, 1935. In fact, it took nearly 2 months before he was strong enough to leave his hut and be flown back to the expedition's main base, named Little America, which was located about 123 miles to the north.

Well, it's really late and I need to be heading to bed. The seas are totally calm now, so everyone should sleep really well tonight. It's nice that the seas were so calm for Ernest to BBQ our dinner. We had awesome chicken, hamburgers, hot dogs, eggplant, and crab cakes. It was great! Well, If you think of any questions, don't hesitate to send them to me. I wonder what fun things I'll be seeing tomorrow . . .

Kim Giesting

Latitude: 76 degrees 29 minutes South

Longitude: 154 degrees 37 minutes West

Temperature: -6 degrees C

Barometer: 996.9 mb

Wind Speed: 2.4 knots

Wind Direction: 054 degrees (from the northeast)

Sunrise today: 02:07

Sunset today: 20:42

Ernest is on the deck grilling our dinner!

This is one of the many icebergs that we have seen today.

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