Antarctica Dispatch

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

No planes Yet


Station Opening was set for last Saturday October 21. Unfortunately (or fortunately for some here who don't want new arrivals) the weather has been too cold for the LC-130s to land. It needs to be -50 C or warmer before the LC-130s will land, and it's been hanging just below -55 C. The meteorologists are probably the most sought after personnel on station - "Hey Don, how's the weather looking?". It's like watching little ducklings following their mother. I jokingly told the new IT Manager who was waiting in McMurdo to fly down on the first flight that I'd see him in Novemeber.

At our Monday morning Safety Briefing the EH&S (Environmental Health & Safety) officer said "If we're here next Monday, the topic of discussion will be suicide and mass murder prevention." I think that about says how some of the people feel. There's the long stare and the obligatory "I don't give a F#@%!" among other things.

On Tuesday night word got out that the Basler (DC-3) was coming in the next day with 18 people and take out 14 Winter Overs. It was still too cold for the LC-130s to make it in, but this venerable, old airframe could do it. The outbound passengers were joyous, liquor flowed freely, people began parting with possessions they didn't want or couldn't take back. Unfortunately, the next day the Basler was canceled. I think everyone resigned themselves to waiting until the planes officially get here.

In other news, I found out my job sequence # is 1334 and my Winter Over # is 1125 out of 1153 (total number of people who've wintered at the South Pole since the first station was opened). Another bit of trivia, our potable water comes from a well that we drill in the ice. I say 'drill' but there's not a drill bit involved. Instead hot water is used to create a large cavity in the ice. When that is used up, a new 'rodwell' is made, and waste water is used to fill the old one. A few years ago CRREL (Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory) did a study called the 'Stratigraphic and Physical Property Measurement of the 202-meter core drill at the South Pole' which dated the water in the rodwell. Here's a depth vs timeline which shows we're drinking 'ice' that was deposited back in 500 AD.


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