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24 June, 2000

Who Said We Can't Work Out Here

While all my friends back home working out preparing for various triathlons, duathlons, road races and swimming events, I am on the Greenland ice cap exercising my brain. Well, sort of. Science can be very much a work out endeavor as I will explain in a bit. I was a little worried that I wouldn't be in shape when I returned to the States but maybe that's not true. On the fun side of things, I brought my cross-country skate skis and my telemark skis. It is very difficult to ski here because the snow is very cold and gliding is inhibited. Plus, being at 10,500 foot elevation takes a toll on the heart and lungs . I am adjusting to this elevation and I try to ski the runway (where the planes land) as much as I can. It is about 4 miles round trip (actually if I skied the whole runway it would be 6 miles) but I have to stop often to catch my breath so it takes a while. I ran the other day down to the end of the runway and back and I felt great except my calf muscle let me know it is still sore. Right now it seems my limit for running is 45 minutes before I feel my calf. Then there is our exercise room. It is equipped with a spinning bike, free weight s, a bench and a few bars plus it has enough room to dance. I have a routine that takes about 1hour 30 minutes which consists of spinning to music for 45 minutes then lifting for 30. I also throw in a few songs to dance to and stretch (can you believe it?). I'm trying to g et up to do yoga in the morning with some of the camp staff but I'm usually too hypoglycemic to do anything in the early morning.

Now how does science fit in here? Well, interestingly you cannot be a wimp and go to field camp. There is a lot of physical exercise that is involved while preparing for science experiments. For example, w hen we wanted to find out the snow temperature profiles to a depth of 10 meters (over 30 feet), we had to take core samples of the snow with a drill. This was no easy task. Koni and I drilled the core in 1 hour. He was impressed but I was sweating and gasping for air because took all my power (as well as Koni's) to lift the drill core. You see, everything must be done by hand. The machinery available (bulldozer, payloader) is not used because they disrupt the snow and thus contaminate the experiments especially the air experiments. As vast and open as the land is here, you can only walk on certain paths because you may compress the snow that may be needed in a later study. And the smokers have a real problem. There are many "pollution" free zones so they are restricted in the places they can smoke (which I th ink it should be banned in this pristine area anyway).

Today, I spent much of my day digging snow pits. I'm not talking about little holes in the snow. I'm talking about pits that are 3meters x 3 meters x 3meters (9+ feet=3meters). This was a BIG hole. It too k 5 of us 2 hours to dig it. The Swiss team is constructing a 50 meter tower and they needed a hole that big to keep it upright. When digging in this snow it is quite easy especially when the snow has not been trampled (which is the case here). Unfortunately, this was not the case in the first snow pit I dug today. This one was much more s hallow (1 meter deep) but it was much more difficult because the snow at 40 cm was trampled. It was like digging concrete. What is so cool about these snow pits is that you can actually see how the snow was deposited yearly. We have calculated that the average snowfall for Summit as 73 cm. Each seasonal change is well pronounced. This is very similar to the way sediments are deposited in soil. We don't have folding of the sediment layers, however.

Now, who says we don't work out in Greenland?

Caio, Cathi

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