Antarctica Dispatch

Journal of my Antarctic experience working to support the United States Antarctic Program.

"Earthquake Hits Near South Pole"


This was the headline in the news today on the People's Daily Online. Fox News also reported the earthquake. Well I didn't feel the earth move because the quake happened over 1000 miles away. Someone needs to retake geography!

Penguins were probably the only Antarctic land creatures who got frightened from the event. The USGS has instruments down here, one measuring seismic events. Here's a link to the IRIS site displaying this informaiton.

About the only other development was a huge aurora display courtesy of sunspots.

*Photo by our Bavarian science tech working for the University of Chicago.



Believe it or not there is light at the end of the tunnel. In my case it's at the edge of the horizon. Last week we started to see a sliver of the sun. Everyone's all giddy now. You can see a spring in people's step and a glow in their eyes.

I walked out to some of the remote buildings to check on some network devices - MAPO (Univerisity of Chicago), ICECUBE Temporary Counting House (University of Wisconsin), and ARO (NOAA). It added up to about 2 miles. Since it was pretty clear out, I decided try to take the shorter route instead of follow the flag line back to the station and then back out to ARO. The hard part was the massive drifts and sastrugi.

I also just learned that I'm tentatively set to leave this place outpost at the Bottom of the World on November 2. Yes, I'm quite excited!

Dirty Work


Unlike McMurdo, which swells to over 1200 people during the 'summer' months (November-February), the South Pole station only gets up to a little above 250. McMurdo has janitorial staff. We do not. So every Saturday we do something called 'HouseMouse'. Every department (and science personnel) have an assigned area to clean. During the 'wintertime' we rotate through the various rooms, hallways, etc. It amazes me how dirty the floor gets when there is no dirt here.

In addition, during the summer, we'd have 3 DAs (Dining Attendants) who help keep the Galley area clean, wash dishes, etc. Sometimes after work I'd help out. Well for the Winter we don't have these, so the 64 of us rotate through. It's a change from the daily routine, but at the end of it everyone is exhausted from his/her day in the 'Dish Pit'. This last Tuesday was my day. The shift runs from 10 AM to 8 PM. Most people sleep in, but I still have work to get done, so I was working from 7 AM. As usual on these days, I fell into bed. Hopefully that was my last time in the kitchen.