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1 January, 2003

The Pole at last.

Date: 1/1/03

Latitude: 89 53 32.60 S

Longitude: 157 28 53.40 W

Time of Observations: 11:59 PM local time

Temperature: -24 C / -11 F

Wind speed: 0 knots

Wind Chill: -24 C/ -11 F

Wind direction: Southerly

Meters of ice collected: 584 m

By Paul Andrew Mayewski

11.59 p.m. 1 January 2003. Immediately off in the distance we can see a bright haze appearing on the horizon directly below the Sun. Within that glow is South Pole Station and we are just 10 km from it.

I thought it best to write this log entry just before we got to Pole, during a short stop, while we are shuttling the second to last of the sled loads, because once we get to Pole the adventure will change. We will see new faces, a 10,000 foot long runway and the complex of buildings that make up the station. Here just on the edge of Pole the last four field seasons of US ITASE will blend back into civilization.

It has been an extraordinary expedition. This season we traversed 1250 km from Byrd Station, completed all of our scientific goals and met a number of challenges along the way. Most recently deep snow that has forced us to ferry loads 10 km at a time.

Looking farther back in time over the US ITASE years we have covered more than 5000 km over West Antarctica and into East Antarctica. In all it has taken close to six months to complete our traverse and to set the stage for what we hope will be the basis for understanding recent climate change and change in the chemistry of the atmosphere over West Antarctica. With our other international partners ITASE will change Antarctica from a poorly understood continent, climatically, to perhaps the best documented in the Southern Hemisphere. This phase of the ITASE adventure is nearing an end, but the scientific adventure has only begun. From our work there will be new ideas about how the climate of the Southern Hemisphere operates and we hope new capability for predicting future climate. From our work new avenues of exploration will emerge. We will return to Antarctica with a new appreciation for the continent and what it holds.

We thank you all for being part of our adventure. Having the opportunity to speak to all of you on a regular basis has been a valued part of our daily routine. In our final few logs of this season we will describe the wrap up phase of our trip. Part of the wrap will be to put our Challengers and sleds on a cargo line at South Pole. It is or intention to return to this traverse equipment in about two years. At that time we plan to start up phase two of US ITASE from South Pole to the north along the Transantarctic Mountains. By then we will have analyzed and interpreted the information collected during phase one.

We thank the Museum of Science for being a such a wonderful partner in our adventure, the Office of Polar Programs of the US National Science Foundation for their encouragement and support, Raytheon Polar Services for logistic support, Ice Core Drilling Services and Glacier Data for drilling expertise, and the 109th Air National Guard for getting us and our equipment to and from the field.

See you on the next round of US ITASE!


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