Week 5 - November 25th to November 30, 2000

Date: 11/30/00
Latitude: 79 degrees, 23 minutes South
Longitude: 111 degrees 14 minutes East
Temperature: -17°C( 1°F)
Wind speed: 8 knots
Wind Chill: -20°C( -4°F)
Wind direction: Southeast
Meters of ice collected: 41

Notes on daily life:

Today was a sunny calm day. It was also very scientifically productive. Paul, Mark, Benjamin, and Zach drilled and recovered ice cores to 41 meter (124 feet) of depth, almost one third of the distance they intend to drill at this site over the next few days. Bob had the GOES satellite system running most of the day, Markus collected a lot of data from his snow pit, and Brian made even more progress with his instruments. Gordon installed his Automatic Weather System (AWS) at this site which will collect weather data for the next couple of years. There is about three dozen AWSs in Antarctica that automatically collect information on the weather here every day. The AWSs last for four to ten years and are revisited by the scientists each year to recover the information that has been collected. There are a few AWSs that transmit the weather data automatically back to institutes in the United States. Steve A. (with help from Cobi) also collected the first seen high resolution radar data of ice layers down to 90 meters below the surface at this location.

We still have not had our Thanksgiving dinner and it looks like it will have to wait until December. Chris rejoins the group tomorrow and will hopefully bring more to add to the upcoming feast. Every Wednesday and Saturday at 2:30 pm EST we make a scheduled live phone call to the Boston Museum of Science. Today's call (remember we are a day ahead) went well as Steve and Zach answered questions from the live audience in the museum. If you can not make it to the Boston Museum of Science to hear the live phone calls you can still listen to all the previous phone calls recorded and archived on the web site. The Boston Museum of Science also maintains a display of the US ITASE expedition in addition to their many other wonderful displays. Also on this web site there is a section for everyone to write to us on e-mail and ask questions of the group. If you have ideas for experiments that you would like the ITASE team to perform here in Antarctica please send them to us. Thanks to those of you that have already corresponded with us. Twenty four more ice coring days until Christmas!

[Shakelton's Hut] [Mt Erebus] [Erebus] [Byrd Station] [testing the drill]
Click on a picture to see it full size.

Date: 11/28/00
Latitude: 79 degrees, 23 minutes South
Longitude: 111 degrees 14 minutes East
Temperature: -21°C( -6°F)
Wind speed: 4 knots
Wind Chill: -28°C( -22°F)
Wind direction: South southeast
Meters of ice collected: 0

Notes on daily life:

In the last daily report, we talked about the ability of the Challenger tractor to pull our entire train of vehicles. Well, as we found out, that is dependent on the consistency of the snow on which we travel. When the Cat bogs down in the soft snow it sometimes takes an hour to get everything moving again. As a result of our constant struggle with snow conditions we have decided to shuttle our vehicles in two loads from one drill site to another. We continued traveling last night in and out of white-out conditions, and after some excellent GPS work, we arrived at our first drill site around 6 am.

We slept in until noon and began working again. Paul and Steve N. have driven the Cat back to retrieve the two sledges that were left behind. The rest of us occupied ourselves preparing to spend the next week here collecting data. Gordon prepared drill holes for more GPS measurements. Markus, Benjamin and Zach started to dig the first snow pit to take snow samples. Steve A., having collected quite a bit of data on the traverse, continues to collect more around the drilling area. Mark has the ice core drill set up and ready to drill as soon as the snow pit samples are collected. Brian continues to perfect his radar system and is working with Steve A. to make the most efficient use of available equipment and time.

It was a long day yesterday and we are all preparing for an exciting day of collecting our first ice core. We have watched dramatic changes in the weather each day and we hope that it will allow us to complete a lot of work tomorrow. After tonight's dinner of leftovers from last night's New England salmon and clam chowder, fried potatoes and herb pasta we are ready for action tomorrow.

Date: 11/27/00
Latitude: 79 degrees, 41 minutes South
Longitude: 116 degrees 11 minutes East
Temperature: 1.8°C( 36°F)
Wind speed: calm
Wind Chill: 1.8°C( 36°F)
Wind direction: Northwest
Meters of ice collected: 0

Notes on daily life:

Yesterday we returned from dropping off the Tucker sno-cat at Byrd camp and this morning at 10 am we are off to the first drill site. Our vehicle train is now composed of the Challenger Cat 55, one fuel and gear sledge, another sledge with ice core boxes, two Maudheim sledges, the science shelter now named the "blue room", the kitchen polar haven, three Nansen sledges with science gear, the polar outhouse, and the radar sled. Our Caterpillar Challenger 55 is rated at 40,000 pounds of pulling power and so far it is easily capable of pulling this entire train of vehicles at about 10 kilometers per hour (6 miles per hour). We are all very well and happy to be on the move again.

Today is a beautiful day with bright sunshine, warm temperatures and no breeze. Our science work is going well and some data has been collected so far. Markus is taking his turn riding in the Caterpillar tractor operating the GPS navigation system with Steve N. who is the primary Cat driver. Steve A. has set up and is operating his ice penetrating radar equipment as we travel and Gordon, who is in charge of monitoring our position with the GPS receivers, has kept us on track for our entire first 80 kilometers (48 miles). The Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) system works with hand-held receivers utilizing signals from satellites orbiting the Earth. There are different levels of accuracy with GPS systems and some are capable of sub-centimeter accuracy. Translated, that means that we can plot our position in latitude, longitude, and elevation to within a few centimeters (less than 1 inch). This important work allows Gordon to measure the rate of flow of the glaciers and let us know where we are and where we are going. Dinner this evening was a wonderful New England salmon and clam chowder cooked by Cobi and Markus.

[Trains ready to go] [Checking under the hood] [towing] [Totem poles]
Click on a picture to see it full size.

Photo Gallery

Date: 11/25/00
Latitude: 79 degrees, 51 minutes South
Longitude: 117 degrees 12 minutes West
Temperature: -10°C( 14°F)
Wind speed: 0 - 5 knots
Wind Chill: -12°C( 10°F)
Wind direction: North
Meters of ice collected: 0

Notes on daily life:

Happy Thanksgiving from the ITASE team.
We are almost at our first drill site. Actually, we were almost at our first drill site, but our Tucker sno-machine broke down and it is beyond repair with our limited equipment. The plan has changed a bit and we are now towing the Tucker back to Byrd (70 kilometers away) with our Caterpillar Challenger 55. As a result of the loss of the Tucker we need to reduce our load by a considerable amount. Steve Niles, Cobi, Benjamin, and Zach will be returning to Byrd in the Challenger towing the Tucker, the ice core freezer, and other equipment. They left early in the morning today and expect to be back with the rest of the group by late in the evening. The loss of the Tucker has created a situation that needs the group to be more creative in the way we move and collect data across the traverse. There is still plenty of time to complete the intended traverse route before the planes arrive to carry everyone back to McMurdo.

We had intended to have our Thanksgiving dinner at our first drill site but instead had a great pesto pasta dinner with garlic bread cooked by Markus and Zach. The turkey dinner will have to wait for another time. In the mean time we will continue to complete the changes necessary for our new leaner expedition. Mark put the drill together and drilled a practice hole along with Paul. Bob continues to work on our GOES satellite system which we are using to post these daily reports. Gordon has finished preparing his GPS system and collected some data simulataneously with Steve's high-resolution radar, Brian continues to work on his radar, and Markus has set-up his first snow pit to collect samples for later analysis.

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