31 January, 1997
This will be my last journal entry. I must tell you about the Polar Sea Coast Guard Cutter cruise that was made available for people at McMurdo Station. Twice per day for the last three days, the Coast Guard was kind enough to invite about 50 people to join them as they work to keep the channel open for the supply ship that is due into port on February 3rd. The cruise lasted for three hours and offered a great opportunity to tour the scientific support for research that they have on board. The skies have cleared and views were again spectacular as we cruised out of McMurdo Sound. Mt. Erebus looks like a relative of Mt. Rainier in Washington State (except for the lack of trees).
As I watched the ship move forward into unbroken ice, it was interesting to watch the patterns of ice breaking and large meter thick chunks of ice turning over, rising up spinning and swirling through the clear deep green ocean water. As the water sprayed up onto the ice surface, it froze immediately making interesting patterns in the uncut ice.
Back in the lab, the science teams are sorting equipment and samples, labeling and boxing samples and generally stressing out about where to start and will they be ready by shipping time. Others have said of this marvelous place " it is the "Club Med" for scientists". Once here, the support system is so good that all they have to worry about is the science that they are doing. As other teachers have mentioned, food and lodging is supplied and you don't need any money or credit cards. The science supply room has everything anyone needs. The computer facilities are available 24 hours per day with support staff to assist as needed. I have witnessed first hand the wonderful support offered by everyone here. You should soon be able to view my pictures from the ice since Ethan, a support computer tech graciously offered to use his digital camera to capture and send some pictures to supplement the journal.
It is now time for me to organize my samples, pack my gear and be off to the bag drag. Baggage is weighed and taken the day before a scheduled flight from McMurdo Station. Each of us is then allowed to keep one carry on bag with essentials for use if the flight gets delayed or cancelled(an event that happens very regularly).
Before I sign off for the last time, there is some information I wish to share with you. Two people with whom I have spoken will be spending the winter at the South Pole. They both have offered to answer your questions during the next 8 months that they will spend at the South Pole. Beginning in just a few weeks, they will be isolated from everyone until sunrise sometime in November, 1997. They have said to tell you that you can feel free to ask about life and science during their stay.
Tom Tatley is an electrician. He did not go to college and would like everyone to know that you can travel, find adventure and excitement even without a college degree if you have the desire and motivation. His e-mail address is as follows: Tatleyto@spole.gov
Matthias Rumitz works on the submillimeter telescope/remote observatory He is from the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. He has a series of remote telescopes to maintain and make sure that they continue to collect data all winter. His telescopes are about a mile from the Dome and he will have to walk to his work site every day when it is below -50 degrees C because the metal equipment becomes too fragile to use at those temperatures. He says that he may try skiing. His e-mail address is as follows: firstname.lastname@example.org When you send his an e-,mail, he will respond and you will then have his South Pole e-mail address. This is a great opportunity to find out about life in the Antarctic during the winter.
I hope these journal entries have given you some sense of how science is done in several areas of the Antarctic as well as some knowledge about the Long Term Ecological Research here. Why don't you try to find information about some of the other LTER sites. The dry valleys of Antarctica is only one of 18 LTER sites. Hydrology studied here will tell us much about the way water cycles influence other ecosystems in warmer climates. Atmospheric influences and radiant energy research will give us valuable information about the impact of various atmoshperic gases and energy interactions on ecosystems. What is true in Antarctica will be true in many ways in other areas of the planet. We are all part of the earth ecosystem and as such we are subjected to the same processes of nature as the ecosystems on this cold dry continent. With this knowledge hopefully humans can make informed decisions to insure a healthy ecosystem is maintained for us all.
Bye from McMurdo Station, South Victoria Land, Antarctica.
Biology Teacher, Lakeside School
TEA teacher parcticipant
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