1 December, 1996

December 1st, 1996

Lab Rats

Today I finished up the picture processes early in the morning. Then I started looking at the cuvettes from the snow profiles taken in the pits at Ferrel AWS. The cuvettes are slightly tapered, so I used a pipette to add very small amounts of water. I then used a ruler to measure the heights. In this way we can compare height to volume. We discovered that the error in measuring volume caused by the taper was insignificant with the tools we were using.

Mrs. Bennett and I took some time off this morning to go to church. This is the first Sunday in advent, so we lit an advent wreath and started Christmas preparations. Although I will be back with my family in Australia for Christmas, most of the workers down here will not get home for the holidays. There are Christmas trees starting to appear around McMurdo. The chapel will be decorated this afternoon. It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

The rest of the day was spent in the lab. After I finished looking at the volume vs. height measurements, I started in on processing the cuvettes. I get them from the freezer where they are being kept in a cooler. The freezer is -25 degrees C, so I where gloves and the works. I take the samples from a big cooler and put them in a smaller one. Back in the lab I measure the amount of snow in the cuvettes. When the snow melts I measure the amount of water. This allows us to calculate the snow density. Each layer of snow has a slightly different density which is dependent on the conditions it met when formed. By looking at the snow density we are able to match up layers in one profile with another.

The cuvettes are stored in sets of five in plastic zip lock baggies. After measuring the amount of water, I look at them under a stereoscope. Under magnification I can see the beads in the samples. If there are micro spheres in the cuvettes, I remove them from the others by cutting the tape, put a cap on them and then set them aside for filtering later.

The plan for tomorrow is to go to Willie Field and try to take more data. The conditions should be similar to the data we took at Ferrel AWS.

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