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8 January, 2000

One of the online experiments that I am conducting while on the ice is a test of the pH of local precipitation. Acid rain and snow is common in industrialized areas and can be even in wilderness areas throughout the United States. The precipitation in Antarctica should be relatively pristine. The largest urban or smog producing area is thousands of miles away in New Zealand, Australia, or south Africa. there is some potential for air pollution here however.. There is a lot of aircraft in and out of McMurdo, and the electrical generators are always going. There is also Mt. Erebus which releases gasses such as sulfur oxide, nitrogen oxides and CO2, which could affect snow pH. Nevertheless, snow collection upwind of these influences should be pretty clean.

On Thursday, 1/6/2000, I collected some snow from the very tip of the peninsula where McMurdo is located. This is about 1 mile from town and exposed to wind from the Antarctic plateau. See if you can locate this spot on a map.

The pH of the snow was exactly 6.0 I used low range ph paper, and followed the protocol described at the following web site. Try this experiment at home and compare to different locations around the globe.


Try an internet search to find out the causes and issues related to acid rain. What can you find ?

High on Inclusion Hill, I am tracking penguins with tiny radio transmitters as they travel far out to sea to feed. By simultaneously tracking the birds from 3 locations on Ross Island, we can triangulate their position. This was a parcticularly cold and windy day.

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