21 January, 1997
>Below are the first questions I received in the field. I will post more >under the Jan. 22 date. > >Questions: > >>From the students of Brenda Kaiser and Kay Tebbens: > >1.Have you seen interesting animals? What are they? > >Yes I have. In my journals you will see that I have seen three dead seals >that died anywhere from three to three hundred years ago. All of the seals >were found far from the sea. No one knows why they leave the safety of >their home. I have also seen cyanobacteria, some of the only life found in >the interior of the continent. I may get to tag some penguins later on >this week. I will let you know later. Of course the strangest animal life >of all around here are the guys I work with. > 2. Can you see any dirt? Is it frozen & what does it look like? > >Nice question! Lots and lots of dirt in the Dry Valleys, especially sand. >But the dirt here is not soil. It does not have the decayed plant and >animal life in it that is needed to grow plants. I'm afraid that after 18 >days out here without a bath, a good deal of the dirt is on me---but I love >it! > 3. What do you think the biggest snowfall will be while you are there? > >Less than an inch. It surprises people to learn that very little snow >falls in Antarctica, it's actually a desert. The reason why there is so >much ice around is because much of it never melts---especially in the >winter time. Are you surprised. > > > 4. Have you fond any dead people there??? > >The only dead person I see around here is my tent mate, Zach. He dies >every night about 10 and can only be revived in the mornings by shaking him >and yelling. Actually, very few people die in Antarctica, partly because >so few of us are here but also because we are very careful. We have to >check in with McMurdo twice daily. If we don't, a rescue team is sent out >immediately. These teams are so good that hardly anyone ever gets a chance >to die before they reach them. > 5. How long did it take you to get there? any adventures? > >I left Delaware on Dec. 27 at 2:30 PM and arrived in New Zealand on Dec. >29 at 10:30 AM. It took another 8 hours to reach McMurdo Base off the >coast of the Antarctic continent. The entire flight and every minute I >have been here has been an adventure. Check out my journal for specifics. >6. Does snow pile up or blow away? > >Most of it in the Dry Valleys sublimates. That means it turns directly >into water vapor. That's good for us because we do a lot of rock climbing >and the snow would make our job more dangerous. > 7.Are there polar bears there? > >Polar bears are never found in the Antarctic (which means "without bear") >they can only be found in the Arctic region (Arctic means bear). > 8. Have you fallen in any water? > >Most of the water here is frozen but there are a few lakes that have so >much salt in them that they are often liquid. There is a pond near our >camp site that is often frozen but I would never walk on it. The other day >we walked across a really big glacial lake to get to our helicopter. >Although it was liquid around the edges it was solid in the middle, so no >one fell through. > >9. Have you seen a rock that you really wonder about& will you be able to >bring home any rocks? > >You bet. That is our job here, to look for rocks that tell the story of >how the earth formed---and boy have we found some strange rocks. If you >look at my journal you will find some stories about how we search for these >rocks. > > 10/ Are you getting special musical selections ready for when you take >teacher groups to Antarctica? > >This question sounds like a plant! To take teachers to the places where we >work would cost at least $100,000 per person. It is very difficult for >individuals to reach the interior of the continent without the support of >the National Science Foundation. As to music, I find opera, classical, and >Celtic to be great Antarctic music---I also add a little romantic music to >remind me of home. > >Name: Laura > Grade: 9 > > >Comments: > What is it like to be there in the cold and isolated? > >Laura, it's wonderful! You may have noticed in my journal that I am >especially excited when I can get away from everyone and feel complete >isolation. As to the cold, I seldom notice it. All of us are so well >dressed for the cold that we often get very sweaty when working. Right now >my bare hands are cold as I type, but the rest of me is very warm. > > >Name: Tom Richardson > Grade: Elementary > > >Comments: >What Make and Model camera are you using to take such great photos? >They are even better than those I've seen from the Grand Canyon, >Glacier Nat'l, Park, and Hawaii! Tom & Sandy > >Hey good buddies! The camera Jon and I are using is a Quick Take---on loan >from DPI thanks to Tom Brennan. > > >Name: Ben Andersen Grade: 9 at Dover High School Comments: Hi Mr. >Phillips! I was just wondering how many layers of clothing it takes to >stay warm in antarctica? > >Hi, Ben! we wear three layers, but we have two thicknesses to choose from. > All of the material is polypropylene---you should never wear cotton when >you are working in a cold climate. I like a thin long sleeve undershirt, a >medium pile fleece jacket, and a thin windbreaker. This doesn't sound like >much but when working I sometimes have to strip down to just the undershit. > We also have three layers of pants, but I only wear two. None of us wears >the bunny boots used by most expeditions. We wear hiking boots instead, >even though they don't keep you feet as warm. We have to do this since we >do so much climbing. > >>From Diana North. I work with Barbara Tinney at Caravel Academy, >Delaware. Our class just began a unit about penguins. I was wondering if >you have a few minutes to comment about any penguins you may have seen >while doing your igneous rock field study. Barbara mentioned to the kids >about how you are visiting Antarctica and maybe we could get a first hand >glimpse into the life of a penguin by asking for your comments. Any >information you can send us would be wonderful!! > >Diana, I can't help with the pinguins too much right now, we are working >too far from the coast. I can tell you though that ocasionally a penguin >will wander into the interior and probably die there. As you can see from >my journal, many dead seals have been found from any source of food. No >one understands this behavior. Maybe on of your students will solve this >mystery some day. >The people studying penguins on the coast are sometimes heard over our >radio. They are very fond of the them and seem to know a number of them by >pet names. Lately they have been coraling and banding them, sort of a >penguin round up. If I can get to McMurdo soon I will volunteer to help. >In any event we should get to Cape Royds soon where we can see many >penguins.Return to Bill Philips' Page
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