Posts Tagged ‘blognews’


July 28, 2009

Last August, or thereabouts, as I said my tearful farewells to my document management colleagues (hi guys!), I promised that I would blog about my exciting adventures in graduate school. Thus far, most of my exciting adventures in graduate school have consisted of things like learning to solve partial differential equations, which seemed unlikely to hold the interest of an audience. But now I am a few weeks away from leaving for fieldwork in Antarctica, and it seems high time to begin recording my activities.

Answers to some Frequently Asked Questions about my trip:

Q: Do you have to bring your own jacket?
A: No, they supply you with Extreme Cold Weather Gear on your way to the Ice. This does, however, count against your 75lb weight allowance, so one must consider carefully what to pack.

Q: The Ice?
A: This shows up even in official emails from the logistics folks, so it seems to be more or less the Official Nickname for Antarctica.

Q: How cold will it be there?
A: It’ll be late winter/early spring when we get there–just after sunrise–so it will be on the chilly side. However, we’ll be working in and around McMurdo, which is on the coast and therefore rather temperate compared to the interior; the average temperature for McMurdo in September is a relatively balmy -11F/-23C. (For comparison, South Pole station is around -70F this time of year. The record low for Antarctica as a whole is -129F/-89C, recorded at Vostok station. Dry ice freezes at -109F or thereabouts, although apparently there is not enough of it in the atmosphere to actually freeze out into CO2 snow.)

Q: How long will you be there?
A: About six weeks–two out on the sea ice, two in the Dry Valleys, and some extra time for orientation, logistics, labwork, et cetera.

Q: What will you be doing?
A: I’m researching the optical properties of cold sea ice (below -23C) as well as ice on salt lakes in the Dry Valleys. I’ve also made everyone’s life more difficult by tacking on a marine biology project having to do with the slime that bacteria and algae leave behind in the ice, and how that slime might alter the results of our other experiments. I’ll post more about my research later–you should ask me questions so I know what to talk about!

Q: Are you excited?
A: HECK YEAH I’M *ahem* I mean, it certainly does promise to be an intriguing adventure!

I’m scheduled to leave the country mid-August. There is Internet at McMurdo, although the bandwidth is on the low side, so I’ll try to update from there when I can. Meanwhile I will make some posts about the preparations required for a trip to Antarctica, the broader context for my research, et cetera.