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5 January, 2003

Wrapping things up at South Pole

Date: 1/5/03

Latitude: 90 S

Longitude: 0 W

Time of Observations: 10:00 PM local time

Temperature: -26C / -14.8 F

Wind speed: 10 knots

Wind Chill: -37.6 C/ -35.7 F

Wind direction: Southerly

Meters of ice collected: 920 m

By Susan Kaspari.

The ITASE team was busy today breaking down camp and packing up our gear to return home. Brian, Blue and Jim are back in McMurdo. The rest of the team is wrapping things up at pole and will return to McMurdo over the next few days. Today Markus and Betsy packed up the atmospheric tent for the last time, Mark finished drilling with the 3" drill, Paul, Susan and Dan packed up the ice cores and drilling equipment and Lynn, Karl, Gordon and Andrea were busy breaking down the sleds. Paul gave the Sunday science lecture this evening in the galley to a large audience. It was great to see so many people interested and enthusiastic about ITASE.

After being out in the field for the last month and a half, arriving at South Pole is both extremely exciting and a bit overwhelming. South Pole is a bustling station with over 200 people doing research and working around the clock. After the solitude of the Polar Plateau, all of the constant activity of South Pole is a bit of a shock. The actual Geographic South Pole is marked by a silver post in the ice, and because the ice constantly flows the marker is moved each year to remark the correct position. There is also a ceremonial South Pole that looks like a barber shop pole with a silver ball on top surrounded by flags of countries that are involved with the Antarctic treaty. The main structure of South Pole station is a large silver geodesic dome under which the galley, some berthing and logistical buildings are located. Various arches that are mostly buried under the snow spread out from the dome. A new station is being built that is elevated on beams- it looks like a space station. There is a clean air sector where atmospheric sampling takes place, a geophysics lab called Skylab, and a region where astrophysics takes place. About 30 people live under the dome, and the remaining people live in Jamesways (large arched canvas structures) or Hypertats (similar to a Jamesway, but made of metal). The ITASE team has continued to sleep in the kitchen module and the Blue room since bed space is limited at South Pole and we are also very comfortable staying in the traverse modules. We've happily taken advantage of the amenities that South Pole offers - we've taken showers (people at Pole are allowed a two-minute shower twice a week) and have indulged in some fresh fruit, vegetables and real ice cream in the South Pole galley. It's fun to talk to new people, and many of us have old friends that are working on station. Since leaving site 5 our schedules have been chaotic- all of us are looking forward to things slowing down so that we can return to a normal sleep schedule. It feels great to have completed the traverse with all of our scientific objectives successfully accomplished.

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