12 November, 1997
This morning found us on our way to Siple Dome which will be home for the next couple of weeks. We flew from McMurdo Sound by way of a Hercules C130, which is a large cargo plane flown by the New York National Air Guard. The flight crew Tim Harris and Mark LeCours allowed us upstairs in the cock pit to take pictures. It is strange to see white clouds and white textured snow beneath you for you are not real sure where one ends and the other begins. Siple Dome is a little less than 82 degrees south latitude and about 149 degrees longitude. Even though it is on the opposite side of the International Date Line than McMurdo, we will still use the time and date from that longitude. The C130 is operated as a cargo plane and once on the runway at Siple Dome the back doors were opened and the cargo was dropped from the moving plane onto the runway. The cargo rolls to the back of the plane on a track system that looks very much like a rail track with rollers and then just drops to the ground to be retrieved by the ground crew. People passengers walk off the back of the plane after it has stopped.
Coming down, we discovered that the weather was extremely nice and the sun was brightly shining with no wind blowing. It was very much like a winter day in Butte when everyone gets spring fever. The day continued with getting tents assigned and our sleep kit prepared for the night to come. The tents are mountaineering tents and we have been issued mummy cold weather sleeping bags with fleece liners for cold nights. Under the sleeping bag, we placed a blue insulated board to keep us off the ice and a thermal pad. With the sun shining all night long the tent should be some what warm. At least the tent will cover us from the wind which makes the temperature much colder.
After preparing the science equipment to be sent to the site, which is about 5 to 6 kilometers out of town, we took a quick trip to the site on snowmobiles. The people from ASA (Antarctic Support Associates) had just finished building the Jamesway and the pit for some of the core experiments. I will be working with Dr. Mary Albert, Nancy Cloud, and Joey Tsai on a core experiment dealing with the gases found in the core. Dr. Joe McConnell, Brent Matson, and Hannah Thomas (a girl scout that is on the ice) is also sharing the site with us. They are doing research on the chemical composition of the core. With this information, a model of what has happened with our atmosphere in the past and now will help us understand the possibility of a green house in the earthÝs future. These projects are a part of the project being done with Dr. Ken Taylor and Dr. Gregg Lamorey and the WAISCORE project. Check out the science on www.maxey.dir.edu/WRC/waiscores.
Siple Dome is actually situated on a dome of ice that is about 1000 meters thick. The Dome is moving about 1 meter a year. The landscape is flat and white in all directions that you turn. The sun is rolling about at a 25 to 30 degree angle from the horizon. It is about the same amount of light all day long. Even at 2 or 3 in the morning the sun is bright and one is able to see for ever. I can really understand why people in Europe along time ago thought that they may fall off the edge of the earth if they traveled to far. You can almost see the curve to the earth as you look out along the flat white horizon. It seems that here at Siple you can see for a very long distance in any direction but it is all white with small tints of blue where the snow has been cleared. Siple Dome is a small community of dark green/ brown Jamesways (a type of Quonset hut) and a sea of yellow and blue or blue and purple tents. The whole picture reminds one of the MASH TV series only this one is on a unique mysterious continent that adds a little danger to solving its hidden scientific mysteries.
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