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29 November, 2002

Notes on daily life by Gordon

Latitude: 80 degrees South

Longitude: 120 degrees West

Time of Observations: 8 PM local time

Temperature: -16 C / 03 F

Wind speed: 0 knots

Wind Chill: n/a

Wind direction : n/a

Meters of ice collected: 0

We woke this morning to clear blue skies and calm conditions - quite a change from conditions for much of the past week. The same storm that shook us around a few days ago also seems to have ravaged Byrd Surface Camp. Some of the ski way marker flags have been blown over, Old Glory is in tatters at the top of the camp flag pole (although it was a new flag this season) and there are large snowdrifts surrounding the camp Jamesway tent.

After a breakfast of fresh eggs, we set about keeping ourselves busy for the day. Carl and Brian fired up the tractors and cleared away snow from around camp and groomed the ski way in anticipation of our resupply flight. Lynn worked his shovel, clearing away drifted snow from around camp structures and Andrea moved her gourmet kitchen operation back into the Jamesway. Mark worked on putting together the lightweight drill which will be used to collect an ice core about 2 km outside of camp over the next few days. Markus and Betsy have moved their atmospheric sampling equipment about a kilometer upwind from camp where they are both busy preparing a full schedule of experiments for the next few days. Later this evening they will conduct a balloon launch, releasing a helium filled balloon that will rise up through the stratosphere measuring ozone concentrations along the way.

Blue, Gordon, Steve and Jim will use this extra time at Byrd to conduct a detailed mapping program, focusing on surface topography and snow accumulation. The project involves driving a 10 x 10 km grid on a snowmobile and sled equipped with precision GPS receivers and a ground penetrating radar. Each line in the grid will be spaced 1 km apart. The results of the survey will provide a detailed look at the topography and elevation of the ice sheet around Byrd and also a 3-dimensional view of snow accumulation over a relatively large area. Blue did the first part of the work today, driving an even more detailed grid over and across the bump that Byrd Surface Camp sits upon, while the others prepared the radar sled and the route coordinates for the remainder of the project.

The purpose of the experiment is to provide ground calibration and validation for a new satellite mission. ICESat (Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite) will be launched by NASA on December 19 to study changes in the polar ice sheets over the next five years using a laser altimeter. If the laser instrument is functioning properly it will measure the same surface topography and elevations from space that we measure during our experiment on the ground.

The work day ended with the team gathered back in the Jamesway, enjoying the relative treat of being able to eat our meals sitting at a table. Tomorrow we will celebrate Thanksgiving - Andrea is definitely thankful that she now has an oven in which to cook our holiday bird!

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