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4 December, 2002

Quintessential Antarctic Day

Date: 12/04/02

Latitude: 80 South

Longitude: 120 West

Temperature: -13C/ 9F

Wind speed: 5 knots

Wind Chill: -19C/ -1F

Wind direction: North-Northeast

Visibility: Very Good

Conditions: Clear, sunny and warm

Meters of ice collected so far: 71m

By Dan Dixon

Today was a quintessentially beautiful Antarctic day. The wind dropped to almost nothing, the sky cleared and the sun shone (as it always does!). I was eager to get out to the drill site and bask in the sun. Basking in the Antarctic sun is a dangerous occupation, the ozone hole ensures that there is enough UV radiation to cause sunburn in less than half an hour. The only skin I exposed during my basking session was my face (which I had covered in factor 45 sun block). Although I did not get suntanned, it was still a real treat to feel the sun's heat through several layers of polar fleece.

As a part of the drill crew, I assisted Paul, Mark, Eric, and Susan in extending the deep core to 41 meters After this, Markus joined us and helped to drill a 15 meter core that he will melt and test for hydrogen peroxide and formaldehyde chemistry here at Byrd Camp. He also dug and sampled a 60 centimeter snow pit. After we had finished drilling Markus' core, we drilled another 15 meter core for Eric Steig. Eric will ship this core back to the University of Washington. There he will test for nitrogen and oxygen isotopes of nitrate in order to determine paleo-ozone concentrations.

Meanwhile, Steve, Jim, and Brian excavated a large block of firn to transport back to CRREL in New Hampshire. Steve will measure the electrical properties of the block and perform scanning electron microscopy on its crystal structure.

Gordon and Blue drove 5 kilometers away from camp to resurvey a mass balance site that was set up in 1995.

Betsy sampled a 2 meter temperature profile in a snow pit and also launched a balloon (with the help of Jim and Brian), this time with no mishaps!

One of the most exciting events today was the arrival of the Twin Otter aircraft. The Twin Otter flew in to pick up fuel drums for a fuel drop. Lynn, Karl, and Andrea teamed up to load the plane. After takeoff, the plane flew to a predetermined location and dropped off fuel that will be used by Howard Conway's group. They will be performing radar surveys for the proposed deep drilling program in West Antarctica.

Altogether, it has been an extremely productive day. Andrea wrapped the day up nicely with another one of her brilliant creations; today it was spinach, feta, and chicken pie with couscous. I think tonight would be a good night to relax in front of one of Blue's comedy DVDs.


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