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Date:   November 19, 2006
Location:   Taylor Dome
Latitude:  77 degrees, 47 minutes South
Longitude:  158 degrees, 43 minutes East
Temperature:  −27°C (−17°F)
Wind Speed:   13 knots
Wind Chill:  −40°C (−41°F)
Elevation:  2,365 meters (7,759 feet)
Written by:   Lora

The Importance of Layers

I woke up this morning and bundled up.  Andrei, Joe and I were heading out to sample a snow pit at the drill site.  We know it would be a cold day in the pit with lots of wind.  Additionally we would be 12.2 km from camp with only a tent for shelter.

Since I know I would be standing around in the cold all day, I made sure to wear lots of layers.  Today I wore on my legs one pair thin long underwear, one pair thick long under wear, fleece pants and wind breaker pants.  On top I wore two thin long under wear tops, one thick long underwear top, a light down jacket and a big down jacket with hood.  On my head I had a hat, neck gator and goggles with nose protector.  I also wore 2 pairs of gloves and lots of sunscreen.  All of this kept me warm for the day.  It takes me 15 minutes just to put on all of my clothes in the morning.  The layers keep me very warm since they trap air.

Josh and Brian drove us out to the site in the Pisten Bully.  It was a bit of a bumpy ride becuse of the sastrugi, wind blown dunes of snow. When we arrived at the site, the pit dug the day before was covered with plywood.  The snow pit allows us to sample from the top 2 meters of snow.  Below 2 meters the snow is firm enough that a core is drilled to provide the samples.

Joe and Andrei took the first shift in the pit.  They put on clean lab type suites, called Tyvex coveralls, plastic gloves and masks.  This gear protects the snow samples from being contaminated by our clothing and breath.  Snow samples are taken every 1 cm in the pit and put into plastic bags.  The bags are labeled and kept frozen until they are transported back to labs at the University of Maine and University of Washington.  Maine will analyze the samples for chemistry and Washington for isotopes.

We did three sampling shifts during the day.  Two people would be in the pit while the third was in the tent staying warm and labeling the samples.  In the afternoon the wind started to pick up.  We were glad when Brian and Josh picked us up in the evening. 

The trip back was exciting.  The wind and blowing snow made the pisten bully’s windshield frost up.  Brain and Josh keep getting out to wipe of the windshield.  They had placed flags along our route to distinguish it from the vast snowy whiteness and keep us from getting lost.  The flags were difficult to see, as the conditions got worse.  The storm continued into the evening.   Chances are the flights will not be able to come in again tomorrow if this weather continues.  We can barely see the other buildings in camp.