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12 March, 2001

Latitude 66 51

Longitude 69 37 S

Sea Smoke

It has been such a delight to watch the winter season come. Where I live, we measure the seasons as a passage of time; here it is the passage of moments. It wasn't long ago that we couldn't escape the rays of the sun down here. Now, darkness greets us and with each night the chill in the air grows ever deeper. We thought of "cold" as minus one degree centigrade now it's minus twelve or thirteen degrees. The wind chill has been as low as -42 c. Last night the temperature left it's mark on the portholes as frost covered the glass in sparkling arrays. Outside, snow or what we call diamond dust, danced in the wind creating sparkles in the air. Rob Beamam one of the other scientists on board and I tried, to make a snowman from the thick layer of snow that had fallen on the deck. But the snow was so dry we could not make it stick together, so instead, we drew happy faces.

As the sun rose I noticed that the ocean was "steaming." This steam was moving in transparent ribbons carried by the fiercely cold wind. "Captain Joe" I said, "what's this steam called?" "Sea Smoke" he said. Of course now I wanted to know why, so off I went to find Rob Beamam as I knew he would have an answer. "Rob" I said, "What's with this smoke?" "Great question" Rob replied, "it's really a sort of fog. You see the air from the Antarctic continent is quite a bit colder and dryer than the air over the ocean. As the warmer air over the ocean rises it pulls this colder air from the continent. When there is a great difference between the two temperatures, the warmer air just above the ocean condenses forming this type of fog called sea smoke." "Thanks Rob" I said as I went to grab my polar gear to brave the cold and take a picture.

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