I feel like my real Antarctic experience began today. I knew today was different the minute I walked out of my tent. The sky was pretty overcast, and there was a crazy wind whipping in my face. For the past few days, I'd been able to see out to the horizon in all directions. Today, the wind was blowing up so much snow and ice that you couldn't see very far at all. I mentioned before that the weather felt a lot like a nasty Chicago winter day. Well, I was wrong about that. Today was actually much worse. At times, it felt like the wind was just blowing straight through my clothes (now I understand why they gave us so many layers. I'll have to add a few more tomorrow...)
And of course today was the first day that I got stuck doing manual labor outside all day. First I spent six hours taping two 200 foot stainless steel hoses together, methodically going inch by inch as my fingers were freezing solid. Then Justin and I had to haul a bunch of boxes. Twelve hours outside. Lovin' it. When do I get to sit on the beach in Australia again? :) I posted a video of what it was like to work outside today here .
There are a few nice features of all this wind though. It kicks up snow crystals pretty high into the sky. In addition to making really cool sparkles, a lot of times rainbow haloes will form around the sun. A normal rainbow is formed from small raindrops in the sky. These haloes are formed from small snow crystals instead. I tried to get a good photo, but this one was the best I could get. It doesn't really do it justice.
As promised, here's a photo of home, sweet home , and another of me in all my gear .
Finally, I thought I'd say a quick bit more about what we're actually doing down here in the first place. You can see it in this photo . Basically, we have a team of drillers that works for us drilling holes 2500 meters (or 1.5 miles) down into the ice sheet. The way they do it is conceptually really simple-they just shoot a jet of boiling water into the snow. Anyway, once they finish drilling this hole, we lower our instruments down on a big cable. In the photo, the hole is being protected by that stainless steel lip so that nobody falls into it (that's the one thing nobody down here talks about. It's pretty insane to look down, and nobody likes to think what would happen if someone went down. I'll try to get a photo of the hole tomorrow...). You can see the two people in the photo lowering one of our instruments down.
Okay, that's it for now. I'm so nice and warm, and I can hear the wind howling outside. Time to get my coat back on and head back out to the tent...
Oh, did I forget to mention that I haven't showered in a week? Water is tightly rationed down here, and you only get two two-minute showers a week. Plus I have to go outside to the shower. Maybe tomorrow. Nobody can smell me under all those clothes anyway. :)