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26 November, 2000

FYI answer for 11/25/00

Antarctica's cold surface layer and warmer air above the surface combine to form images of objects above their actual position. This is called looming. So if you are looking at a mountain peak on the horizon, you will see the same mountain peak upside down coming off the top of the real mountain. These are Antarctica's mirages.

November's mean snowfall for McMurdo Station is five inches. As of Friday, November 24th, McMurdo had received 15.6 inches since the 1st of November, and we added a couple inches last night. The weather and snow is the talk these days because of what it has done to a lot of research work, including ours. Katsu and I had two female seals with instruments attached that needed to be retrieved, and there was also the first pup attachment for the season and that instrument needed to be retrieved. Only one female was found when we returned to Big Razorback this afternoon. We searched every seal at Turks Head but did not find the female that has had instruments on her for over four days. That is not a good sign at this point. The instruments have a twenty-four hour timing log that has since been off and, with the amount of time that she may have been in water over the last four days, we aren't sure the epoxy will have held the instruments on until now.

The seals aren't the only animals that have had to make some adaptations with all this white stuff. The Homo Sapiens here at Big Razorback had to find ways to shovel out and move about the drifts that we returned to today. The snow had covered our holes for dumping water as well as the cracks near the seals. The water dump holes can be found near the rear of hut 15. The ice cracks around the seals are not so visible. I actually drove an extra lap around the main walkway on my snowmobile just to be able to pck down some of the new snow.

The snow that is covering the ice right now is actually a warming barrier to colder air temperatures. That means that the snow can actually be helping to melt the ice. For us that is not a dangerous thing, but it will affect our ice conditions as we continue to have changes in the sea ice. We will continue to work with attaching instruments to research the behavior in the seals. We will also continue to take a census every third to fourth day when weather permits. There are still going to be trips out of the study area to tag adults that have not been tagged before. The research will continue as much as we can, when we can, for as long as we can.


This time of _____________ storms usually circle the continent offshore. There is not a clear understanding why the ________________ pattern at this time seems to be circling smaller, in over the ice shelf region now.

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