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13 December, 2000

Wrapping Up and Heading Home

The project, high-precision borehole temperature measurements at Siple Dome, is complete for this year. This second season went well. The instruments and equipment performed well. Valuable data was collected. The weather was exceptional which helped things go smoothly.

Gary Clow and Bob Hawley will return next season for the final year of the project. Three years of data collection are necessary to measure the drilling disturbance. That is the amount of heat added to the surrounding ice by the drilling process. The drilling disturbance data will be used to correct the ice temperatures. The ice temperature measurements are then put into a computer model that calculates what climate history could have produced those results.

As I have learned on previous occasions, travel in Antarctica relies on aircraft, which depend on weather. We were scheduled to fly out to McMurdo Station yesterday evening on an LC-130 Hercules. We have had glorious clear weather for eight days but in the afternoon the temperature dropped and some fog started to roll in. By the time the Herc arrived, visibility was too poor for it to land despite four attempts by the pilot.

All our gear was packed up and secured on a pallet next to the runway. I pulled out the sleep kit containing my sleeping bag and pad. Because another flight was scheduled for this morning, I decided to forego setting up my tent and sleep in the science Jamesway instead. Unfortunately, the visibility in the morning was still poor so the flight was cancelled. I ended up putting up my tent back up.

The staff put up some Christmas decorations today. There is a plywood tree with lights. They also baked some holiday cookies. It was a reminder of what time of year it is. Because we are without TV, newspaper, internet, or any current source of news, it is easy to forget what time of year it is or even what day of the week it is.

There is another flight scheduled for tomorrow. The weather is still cloudy but the visibility has improved.

Gary and Bob are securing a pallet that holds all our gear and equipment. Unfortunately, the fog prevented the plane from landing at Siple Dome.

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