Antarctica Dispatch

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



Today I celebrated a New Zealand holiday - ANZAC Day. A few of us trudged over to Scott Base and mustered out at the flag pole to listen to two of the Kiwis speak about what the day meant for them. Afterwards we headed back inside for tea and ANZAC biscuits.

The whole episode made me think of the movie 'Galipoli'. It reminded me how utterly wasteful war can be and how 'leaders' can make the most stupid mistakes, just 'throwing' young lives away.

Condition 2


The last day we'll have a sunset is quickly approaching. I found a few websites looking around for a sunrise/sunset calculator. Here's a good one.

Unfortunately these last two days the weather has not cooperated with us. The plan was to go up to Arrival Heights, which is up on a ridge to watch the final sunset. Unfortunately these last two days the weather has not cooperated with us.

There are three weather classifications down here we use for work and travel:
Condition 3 - normal
  • Wind speed is less than or equal to 48 knots
  • Visibility is greater than 1/4 mile
  • Windchill temperature is greater than -75°F

Condition 2 - restricted travel
  • Sustained wind speed 48 knots to 55 knots
  • Wind chill temperature -75°F (-60°C) to -100°F (-73°C)
  • Visibility 100 feet to 1/4 mile

Condition 1 - Only 'mission critical' travel. Personnel usually restricted to buildings.
  • Sustained wind speed 48 knots to 55 knots
  • Wind chill temperature -75°F (-60°C) to -100°F (-73°C)
  • Visibility 1/4 mile to 100 feet
There's a 'Condtion 1' Pool that personnel buy into. $10 for each day, with part of the proceeds going to a NZ charity.

We went to Condition 2, here. It brought a smile to my face feeling the wind blowing the snow around because I was finally experiencing some true Antarctic weather. The International Antarctic Center in Christchurch, NZ has a weather simulator. Well that doesn't do the real thing justice. Here's a video of what 'Condition 1' is like.

Hello, is there Anyone There?


Well following up to the Internet problem from the day before, all of the USAP stations lost network connectivity back to the USA! The datacenter back in Denver lost power, thus everything went down. We still had AFARTS and could make telephone calls through Scott Base, but for over 8 hours yesterday we had no Internet connection.

Thankfully no one was bugging us about when it would be back up. I think if this was the South Pole, where people are Internet junkies, we'd be inundated with questions. Life and work went on as normal. I caught up on some reading.

Denver We Have a Problem


Ensuring Internet connectivity is one of the main functions of my job. Probably the majority of people surf the web, so when they can't get to their favorite 'http' site, I get a call. Today I got a few of those calls. Our satellite connection back to the states was fine, the problem was with our Internet connection out of Denver, which I didn't have the access to. This happened around 1 PM our time. Since we're 6 hours ahead of Denver, I had to contact someone after hours. Two hours later the problem was solved.

In other news Sandwich was written up in an article that was picked up all over: "Erebus crash blamed for Antarctica 'ghosts'"