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28 November, 2002

Notes on Daily Life

Latitude: 80 degrees South

Longitude: 120 degrees West

Time of Observations: 10 PM local time

Temperature: -06 C / +21F

Wind speed: 5 knots

Wind Chill: -10 C / 14 F

Wind direction : North

Meters of ice collected: 0

At 3:42 am this morning I rolled over in my bunk near the roof of the kitchen. Something was different; it was quiet. The flag noise had abated. I opened my eyes, the kitchen was brighter than normal. I lay there wondering had the storm ended? I could not resist, I crawled out from under my covers, down the shelves that serve as my ladder to the upper bunk, struggled into my big boots, tromped across the kitchen, gave the iced up door a gigantic tug and peered outside. It was clear!

I could see all the way to the atmospheric shelter some 300 meters away from camp. As I squinted into the bright light, I could see as far as the horizon. It was a beautiful, calm morning. The winds like a gentle breeze in comparison to the past few days' howlers.

Each day here has been a new adventure, we are definitely living one day at a time. New plans, new experiments and new weather keep us all engaged and living in the moment. After my foray outside I crawled back into my cozy bunk, thought about what the day would bring, and fell asleep for a few more precious hours of rest. The past few days have been a frenzy of storm related activity combined with attempts to begin our scientific programs.

Yesterday, Markus and I set up the atmospheric shelter, programmed the computers, warmed up the sensor instruments, and by midday everything was in full swing. At each site, we are collecting a wide spectrum of data that gives us a picture of the current local atmospheric conditions and chemical concentrations. In all we have eight experiments. To get these all up and running takes us a full day or two of work. First we must unpack the shelter, mix reagents, calibrate the instruments, connect the snow temperature probes, then we set up the air intake lines and the meteorological instruments. Finally all of the instruments and experiments need electricity to run, so the generator must be fueled and started. The last few days have had the added challenge of unrelenting strong wind, cold and blowing snow, and near-zero visibility. When I peeked out this morning I felt a welcome relief to see the calm. It will make our lives so much easier.

However, even though the weather conditions improved, the frenzy of activity around camp continued. It is moving day again, so the trains had to be freed from their snow-drifted states, in some cases this meant digging several feet of snow off the sleds. While everyone pitched in to get the trains in order for departures, Markus and I wrapped up our work and repacked his shelter. We have been waiting for a chance to move our equipment back to Byrd Station where we will await the arrival of a better fuel hauling sledge and some wider tracks for our narrow tracked Challenger tractor. These pieces of equipment are now being sent to us from around the world so that we can make our way through the heavy snow that has accumulated in this area. As of tonight, we are back at Byrd station. It is a Happy Thanksgiving here with the ITASE team.

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