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16 June, 2000

It's Getting Cold Here

The weather at the Summit is very deceiving. It was a picture perfect day if you look out the window of the Main House, e.g. clear, no clouds and blue sky. It was when you venture outdoors that you feel the real nature of the Arctic. The temperatures hovered around - 20C with a wind that ripped through our clothes. Unfortunately, I spent most of the day outside and it got really cold. although the temps are relatively warm, if there is no wind, you do not feel the cold as badly as you might expect. Today was different.

Sleeping is another interesting peril in this Arctic condition. We all sleep in tents called Arctic Ovens. They are dome shaped and can probably fit two comfortably but we each have our own. It is a double tent, e.g. a tent within a tent. During the day, the temps inside the tent can reach up to +20C but during the night, the temps drop to -25C. I have a triple sleeping bag (thanks to Mountain Hardware) that is definitely needed. It is rated to -20C but I have been very comfortable in it. The hardest part is waking up frequently because of 24 hour daylight. Because of that, we all go to sleep about 1pm because we are not very tired although we work 10+ hour days.

Today, Nick and I took a snowmobile off site to a monitor tower Koni installed several years ago. It was approximately 1.2 miles from the main camp. Our job was to recalibrate the instruments and work on the transmitter because the main link broke. In addition, I dug a 2 meter snow pit to look at the level of snow fall over the past three years. The average annual snowfall is approximately 70 cm. Just like in geology, the snow falls and piles in layers with the oldest layer on the bottom. The snow has different densities as the layers get deeper. What is interesting is that you can actually see each seasonal layer. There are several hard packed layers followed by hoerst layers (ball barring type). This type of snow is responsible for avalanches when the slope of the land cannot hold the weight of the snow and the snow begins to slide.

Yesterday, Koni and I drilled a 10 meter snow core. Into the core hole, we inserted a 10 meter cable that has thermal couplers (temperature sensors) that will monitor the temperature of the snow at depth. Most of the scientists at the Summit are interested in the snow/atmosphere interaction and the temperature of the snow at depth can be correlated to this interaction.

Ciao, Cathi

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