4 December, 1996
Today the temperature was -25F and the windchill brought it down to - 60F. There is alot of construction going on here at the south pole station. They are in the first phases of a major renovation. In addition to the construction supplies that need to be airlifted here, they are also trying to get in all the supplies for the winter. The last flight in will be at the end of Feb. There will be no more flights in until the end of October or the very beginning of
November. The workers who stay here during this period are called the "winter overs" or wintering crew. In addition to these approximately 20 people, there are the scientists working here, the construction workers, and the summer crew which is helping the scientists and the construction crews but will leave before winter. Some of the winter overs will be scientists but the rest will be station crew to keep
the station running through the winter. One of the surprises has been the noise because of all the construction and because of the airplanes. There are about 5 or 6 planes, C-148's, landing each day with supplies. These huge cargo planes are loaded and unloaded almost continually. We have to walk across the runway to reach the building where we are doing research. We were stranded a couple of times at
the edge of the runway, waiting for planes to taxi, land or take-off. They have a warning light that comes on when you are not allowed to pass a certain point on the road across the runway. We had to wait there for about 20 minutes, once on the way to our building and then again on the way back. It wouldn't seem like such along wait except for the wind and the cold.
When we had alot of blowing snow two days ago, we noticed these ice crystals, almost like little prisms of glass that were floating throughout the air. They weren't hard like sleet or ice..but would just float, reflecting the sun into all kinds of little rainbows. We also saw a double ring of rainbows encircling the sun. This was
formed by the refraction of the sunlight in the ice crystals in some high altitude clouds. It was very beautiful.
We are now at the stage of checking the software on the instrument. The instrument is controlled by one computer which then sends the data to a second computer that is responsible for transferring it over the internet to researchers in the U.S. The data we are looking at here can't be interepreted or analyzed in terms of the types of molecules in the air or their concentrations. To do this analysis, it requires another computer with a different type of software able to do a technique known as Fourier transforms. Since this instrument runs automatically most of the time, all the analysis is done at the Univ. of Denver and not here. We sent some files over the internet to the other researchers at U.D. today for them to analyze and assess the quality of data that we are getting. If everything is ok with the data, we are close to finishing up our work here and will be leaving for McMurdo by the weekend.
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