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22 July, 2001

Winter weather has returned to Summit camp

Winter weather has returned to Summit camp. At 4 am this morning I slipped out of my tent to use the outhouse and it was beautiful ! Clear, sunny and still. I saw the hoar frost on all the bamboo poles. I was excited to get back to my sublimation experiment. However, not being as hard core as the rest of the scientists up here, I went back to sleep for a few more hours. When I finally did get up it was because the tent walls were banging in the wind. The weather was starting.

I sauntered on over to breakfast, had my second cup of coffee, and headed out to take a look at the lysimeters (petri dishes) in the snow at about 9:30 this morning.

I found them OK, but they had drifted in, so the measurements were meaningless. I weighed them anyway and reset them, now for a second time in twelve hours. I added pencils so the next time they are buried they’ll be easier to find.

As the morning progressed, it became winter again. By lunch time the wind was howling and the visibility had dropped. Most experiments were put on hold for better weather. One experiment was already underway so Jack Dibb and Aaron Swanson tried to go on as they had planned but by afternoon even that was cut short when it got really snowing and blowing. They were looking at the effect of shading on the gas concentrations of chemicals in the firn (upper crust) layer. They had several types of shades planned for the snow. The shades, made of plywood sheets and plastics (4 feet x 8 feet) became dangerously like sails in the strong winds. At one point watching them work against the wind, I wasn’t sure they weren’t going to loose control of the sheets and take out all the instruments.

Markus and I are still struggling to calibrate and stabilize the temperamental instruments, so another day was spent working with standards and computers and trying to make it all hum along. We are making progress. I am getting better at trouble shooting in the snow analysis lab and Markus seems to have found the ghosts that were in his boxes.

I have high hopes for a better day tomorrow. I have washed out and pre- weighed several hundred snow sampling bottles in hopes for digging a 2 meter pit this week.

Markus and will coordinate air and snow measurements on our first still day so that we can look at the gradient of gas concentrations vertically above the snow. But, mother nature has the final say in our plans. I must say , I enjoy the variability of the schedule and the excitement of the harsher weather.

The Outhouse at 4 am.

My tent. Notice Mr. Trusty Cactus lab assistant standing guard.

The lysimeter snowed in.

Aaron Swanson setting his air intake line into the snow layer known as the firn. Notice the plywood wall in the background. This is to shade the snow. The plywood nearly became a sail later in the day as the wind picked up. Their experiment did work, however, the shade changed the photochemistry of the snow - atmosphere reactions, because no UV was available to accelerate the reactions. This will work better on a sunny day. More later.

I am dressed in 5 layers of clothing to stay warm in the wind.

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