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2 January, 2003

1st full day at the South Pole

Date: 1/2/03

Latitude: 89° 54’ 42.10” S

Longitude: 147° 34’ 00.80” E

Time of Observations: 10:00 PM local time

Temperature: -26 C / -14.8 F

Wind speed: 3 knots

Wind Chill: -31.5 C/ -24.8 F

Wind direction: Southerly

Meters of ice collected: 890 m

By Dan Dixon

Today was our first full day at The South Pole, actually we are not directly over the Pole (as our coordinates will tell you). If we were directly over the Southern Pole of the Earth’s axis of rotation our coordinates would be 90’ S, 0’E. Funnily enough, someone (the United States Geological Survey) has erected an actual metal pole over this precise point so we cannot park our trains there. We are currently parked at a site called SPRESO, 8 km away from the South Pole station. SPRESO is short for South Pole Remote Earth Science Observatory; it is part of an experiment run by the USGS to determine the interior structure of the Earth using seismic waves. At the SPRESO site sensitive seismometers are being buried 300m deep in the ice sheet. In order to get the equipment into the ice at this depth a 300 m-deep hole must be drilled. Terrance Gacke is the head driller on the SPRESO project and he agreed to carefully bag and pack each meter of ice from one of these deep holes and give it to ITASE to complete the Byrd to Pole ice core transect. A core of this depth is extremely valuable and may contain climate data over 3000 years old. ITASE greatly appreciates the efforts made by Terry and all of his crew.

Today has been a very good day. The weather warmed up to a scorching -22 degrees Centigrade! And there was no wind: a quintessential summer’s day at Pole. Our first task this morning was to take apart the trains and prepare all our science gear for the long journey home. The mood was a happy one, but there was also an air of sadness as four years of challenging exploration finally comes to an end. Later in the day Susan, Dan, Markus, and Paul drilled several more meters of core using the 2-inch drill, Markus and Betsy set up the atmospheric sampling tent, and Paul, Carl, Dan, and Susan prepared the Weatherhaven sled and a Berko for the 200 km mini-traverse.

The ITASE 2002 South Pole traverse may be over, but before this season in Antarctica is out there is still more work to be completed for many members of the group. Mark has several more 3-inch cores planned, Gordon and Blue have to return to Byrd Surface Camp to retrieve a GPS base station, Markus and Betsy will be busy sampling the South Pole atmosphere, and Paul, Carl, Dan, and Susan still have a 200 km mini-traverse to complete. The work is far from over!

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