Ice Cores from the Dry Valleys of Antarctica

Ice Cores from the Dry Valleys of Antarctica

Karl Kreutz, Bruce Williamson, Erich Osterberg

October 18, 2003 to December 10, 2003

The goals of this project are to collect and develop high-resolution ice core records from the Dry Valleys region of Antarctica, and provide interpretations of interannual to decadal-scale climate variability during the last 2000 years (late Holocene). In particular, we seek to test hypotheses related to ocean/atmosphere teleconnections (e.g., El Niño Southern Oscillation, Antarctic Oscillation) that may be responsible for major late Holocene climate events such as the Little Ice Age in the Southern Hemisphere. We plan to collect intermediate-length ice cores (100-200m) at four sites along transects in Taylor Valley and Wright Valley.

Journal Entries

Thursday October 23, 2003

click on a photo to see it full size
Sumner Beach, NZ Loading the C-17 Inside the plane getting settled for the flight Bundled up. Arriving on the ice

Erich writes:
So far everything has gone really well. On Saturday we began the long flight to New Zealand. We flew from Bangor to Boston, to Los Angeles, to Auckland, New Zealand to Christchurch, New Zealand. All together, there was about 20 hours of flying, but adding the lay-over at different airports, it was about 30 hours of traveling. Since we flew over the International Date Line, we lost a day (Sunday), and arrived in New Zealand on Monday morning.

We spent Monday and Tuesday in Christchurch looking around, doing errands, some shopping and some touristy stuff. We even made it to a beautiful beach on the Pacific Ocean called Sumner Beach. I took a nice picture of it with the Southern Alps mountains in the background. On Tuesday morning, we received all of our cold weather clothes. The Antarctic program gives us all of the clothes we need, from long underwear, to wool hats and gloves, to huge red jackets that most people wear down in Antarctica because they are so warm.

Our flight to Antarctica was scheduled for Wednesday morning. We were supposed to meet at the Antarctic center in Christchurch at 5:15 am! The idea is that you spend 2-3 hours getting ready, going through paperwork and such, and then finally getting on a plane around 8 am. Anyway, everything depends on having good weather, and very rarely do you get to Antarctica on the first try. Often the flights “boomerang” and get halfway to Antarctica before they turn around. Last week they had 2 boomerangs in one day, and then couldn’t fly anyone in for the next 4 days because the weather was so bad. We were supposed to get up at 4:30 in the morning (ugh!) but we got a knock at our door at 4 am and the hotel clerk told us that the flight was delayed 3 hours. So we were able to get up at a normal time and have breakfast before getting to the airport.

When we arrived at the airport we saw that as luck would have it, we got the new military plane, the C-17. There are 4 different kinds of military plan es that fly to Antarctica, the LC-130, the C-130, the C-141 and the C-17. They are all huge airplanes, but some have propellers and some have jet engines, so it takes anywhere from 4 1/2 – 8 hours to fly depending on what kind of plane you get. Our C-17 had huge jet engines, so it was a 4 1/2 hour flight to Antarctica instead of 8 hours. PLUS, the C-17 has lots more room than the other planes, and a normal bathroom. On some of the other planes you have to pee in a funnel, and they fill the plane with so many people and equipment that you’re stacked in facing someone else with your knees touching each other. But our plane had plenty of room to relax even with tons of heavy equipment, so it was the best possible way to get to
Antarctica. And we made it down on our first try! That rarely happens.

The plane landed on the sea ice next to McMurdo Station, and they drove us to McMurdo town (Mac Town) in busses with huge wheels that look like something from Star Wars.

McMurdo Station is not what I expected, although I’m not really sure what I expected. It really is a town. About 1100 people total. It looks like a mining town in the middle of the ice – kind of bizzare. They have all the comforts of home here, including gyms where you can play sports, a few bars, stores, and even a 2-lane bowling alley (open only on Sundays, though). We have TV lounges, internet access and newspapers. It really is amazing that all of this exists on Antarctica.

The cafeteria is nice, with good food and ice cream every day. I never thought I would be having ice cream in the coldest place on Earth! All four of us, (Karl, Mike, Bruce and I) are living in the same room – living arrangements are college dorm-style with common bathrooms, although luckily there are no longer restrictions on the number of hot showers you can take.

The weather has been pretty good so far. It’s been snowing off and on, and the sun comes out a lot, although it doesn’t seem to make it much warmer! The temperature has been between -10 and 5� F, and that’s without the wind chill. Remember that this is the summer. In the winter it gets down to -40� F all the time. The sun doesn’t set during the summer in Antarctica, so it’s bright out all the time. Luckily our room doesn’t have any windows, otherwise it might be difficult to fall sleep at night.

Today we spent almost the whole day looking through all of the equipment that we are going to take into the field with us for a month. We have to be completely self-sufficient when we are in the field, so we need to bring everything and know that it will work perfectly, otherwise it could be really difficult for us. So we had to look through everything from sleeping bags, to skis, to tents, to sleds, to bathroom barrels. Yes, we have to go to the bathroom in barrels because you’re not allowed to leave anything behind – you must keep Antarctica pristine.

Tomorrow we leave first thing in the morning for our snow survival course. We’ll spend two days out on the glacier getting refresher courses on our mountaineering skills, like low to build an igloo or snow cave, how to stop yourself from sliding down the mountain if you fall, and how to prevent getting hypothermia and frostbite. We’ll spend tomorrow night in an igloo that we’ll make, and then be home the next day.

Our first helicopter flights to check out our camping sites in the Dry Valleys region is scheduled for next Wednesday. We should have two of these reconnaissance flights, and based on what we see from the helicopters we’ll determine where we want to go to do our science work. We’ll have to dig snow pits, drill shallow ice cores and survey the whole region with radar to see what the snow layers look like below the surface of the glacier. As I mentioned, we’ll be out there for a month, so we want to make sure we choose the best locations.

That’s about it for now. I’ll write more when we return from our snow survival course.

Saturday October 25, 2003

click on a photo to see it full size
Bruce at the Scott Monument Waiting to board the plane Loading the C-17 in Christchurch Getting settled in the plane C-17 on the ice near McMurdo Mt Erubus in the clouds heading out for snow school Mike and the tents at snow school Erich digs a shelter Polar Pooper

This is a great adventure so far! From when I stepped on the first flight out of Bangor, there have been so many fun moments, it’s hard to keep track. I’ll start with the flight to New Zealand and then our couple of days in Christchurch and finally the time here at McMurdo station, Antarctica.

The trip to New Zealand was long: four flights and more than twenty hours in airplanes. But we had a long layover in Los Angeles, so I got to break up the trip with a visit to my grandmother (96 years and going strong). A nice side trip for me, followed by a great cab ride with an Armenian Iranian American, where we discussed all the ways we could solve the world’s problems. Next time I’m in LA, I’ll be looking him up again…a nice guy.

Then on to the plane across the Pacific. Thankfully, the airlines have gotten smart, so I had my choice of several movies (I ended up watching Terminator III) and lots of games to play to keep myself amused. Then a short flight from Auckland, NZ down to Christchurch where we found our way to our B&B, dropped our stuff off and went out to check out the town.

Christchurch is a fantastic city. The people are VERY friendly and the phrase I will take home with me is “No worries”, which I must have heard more than tentimes in the two days we were there. The scenery is awesome, with white sand beaches in front of green lush hillsides and snowcapped mountains (the New Zealand alps) in the background. The food varied from sushi to mutton and was great for the most part (all right, so mutton isn’t my favorite). We were fortunate, in that the two days we wandered around Christchurch were beautiful spring days. I kept having to remind myself that it isn’t fall in the southern hemisphere. Hard to remember that. The arboretum in Christchurch is a sightto see. Many trees I haven’t seen before along with some familiar ones, butall truly spectacular.

Then on to the plane down to “the ice”. Riding on a plane big enough to hold a tractor trailer comfortably is not an experience I will soon forget. We were fortunate and got the fast plane (a C-17), so the trip lasted only five hours, and we were pretty comfortable, sitting facing the cargo in the middle of theplane. We were also given enough food on the flight to last a long time (I am still going through it, actually) and earplugs to cut down the noise. A plane that big is just a BIT noisy, but the earplugs worked great, and we arrived without incident. Apparently that is not common, as usually either the flight is delayed or sometimes even turned around in mid-flight–boomeranged, they call it–because of the weather. We must be lucky!

Finally, McMurdo has been a great place. The weather has been alternately beautifully clear to mostly overcast, and it is cold: maybe between 10 andtwenty farenheit (-10 to -5 C). But in all cases, the air is dry enough that it is a pleasure, and we are certainly well dressed. The antarctic program makes sure that everyone is properly outfitted before we are allowed on the plane.

Today we returned from an overnight outdoor camping training class, and that is another unforgettable experience. Spending the night outside on the ice is quite an adventure, and everyone in our group was great, which turned the discomfort of an antarctic night into a fun time. I do still need to get used to antarctic summer nights, however, where the sun never goes down. When I woke up at 3am, I was treated to one of the most beautiful views of the surrounding scenery I have yet viewed here. And the sun was shining brightly. I will get used to sleeping in the sun, I am sure.

Anyway, now off to dinner (they feed us well here), and we will be preparing to get started on our way to the Dry Valley later this week, so we have lots of packing and preparing to do in the next few days. I’m glad that Karl and Erich have been sending pictures, because they will help to fill in the gaps that I can’t put into words. I know I look forward to getting my film developed when I return! Until next time,

Monday October 27, 2003

click on a photo to see it full size
All aboard the Nodwell Driving to camp Front view of the Piston Bully or Nodwell Lecture in the snow Erich and Bruce getting ready to tackle the crevasse Roping up Erich prepares to decend Mike dives over the side Mike in the crevasse Classmate decending into the crevasse climbing out

Erich writes:

Well, the last few days have been very fun. On Friday, we had an early breakfast and went off for our first snow survival course, called “Happy Camper School”. There were 22 people in the course all together, including Karl, Mike, Bruce and me.

We all loaded up in a bright orange “Nodwell”, which is a big snow-cat with tank treads instead of wheels. As you can see from the picture, it was pretty crowded in there for the 45-minute ride to the ice shelf where we spent the next two days. The course taught us lots of skills for how to survive on the glacier with minimal supplies. We learned about different snow shelters you can make, like igloos, snow walls and trenches. The weather was pretty bad all day on Friday – strong winds up to 40 mph, temperatures around 0� F (without wind-chill!), and occasional snow. You can see snow falling during some of our lectures out in the field in the pictures. After spending all day learning how to survive out in the snow, we got to put our new skills to the test by spending the night out there. There were a few tents for us to share, some basic cooking supplies like mountain stoves, dehydrated food for dinner (tastes mostly like card-board), and we all had sleeping bags.
The four of us split up into two small mountain tents and slept there for the night. It was cold trying to fall asleep – I could feel the cold snow underneath me through the sleeping bag, and my feet got so cold that I had to keep warming them with my hands during the night. Once I fell asleep, though, I stayed asleep until the morning. All in all, it was a good night sleep considering we were in the middle of an ice shelf in Antarctica.
The next day, Saturday, we learned how to do cool things like set up and use the high-frequency radio. We were able to call down to the South Pole where there is another research station. Our instructors told us that we could even call as far away as the US if there was someone on the other side listening for us. Later on we did a pretend search-and-rescue operation in white-out conditions. White-out conditions are when the wind is blowing so hard and the snow is falling so fast that you can’t see more than a few feet in front of you, if that far. You can’t even hear someone yelling at you from more than a few feet away. So you can imagine that it would be very difficult to find someone in those conditions! To pretend like we were in white-out conditions, we all put white buckets over out heads so that we couldn’t see anything but white, and it was very hard to hear. We all tied ourselves to a rope and tried to coordinate a search. The funniest part was when one of the members of the “search” team stumbled into the out-house and fell over – he was fine, except for a bruised ego.
You can see red, green and yellow flags in the pictures from the snow school. Those flags tell you where it is safe to walk. Anywhere there is a red or green flag, it means that someone has inspected the area and there are no crevasses there. A crevasse is a huge crack in the snow or ice that is often hidden by a “snow bridge” on top. If you walk over the snow bridge, sometimes it will break underneath you and you could fall 10-50 feet or more. People get seriously hurt and have even died from falling into them, so it’s very important that you know where they are so you can avoid them. The yellow flags are pee flags – you can guess what they mark – you definitely don’t want to walk too close to the yellow flag!
Today we had an advanced snow survival course. We went back to the same place as the first course, but this time we were learning how to use ice axes, ropes and lots of other mountaineering tools. They had a man-made crevasse that we fell into (on purpose) so the other members of our group could rescue us. It was great training – it could save our lives one day – and lots of fun! It helped that it was such a beautiful day today with temperatures in the teens and not a breath of wind or a cloud in the sky. It was magnificent. Mt. Erabus, which is a volcano next to the research station, was clearly steaming all day. You can see the small plume of steam in the picture. Erabus is a very active volcano, but it has not had a major eruption in about 20 years. We returned tonight to a great Mexican dinner – just what I was hoping for – and of course, some ice cream. The next few days will be really busy as we get everything ready to go into the field. Right now we’re hoping for our first helicopter flight on Friday if the weather is good. We have lots to do before then!

Monday October 27, 2003

Tents in the snow Tents with mountain behind

Today was the day we got to play in the snow. We got to ride out in a big truck to a snow slope where we practiced using ice axes to protect ourselves from falling on steep snow. We then moved on to a 30 foot wall of snow and ice that they have made where we practiced going up and down using a rope as well as how to catch someone on a rope if they fall. It was a beautiful day, and a lot of fun to go slide down a hill, which we did headfirst, feet first and even somersaulting. And the whole time, we were learning how to be safe. It was a lot of fun.

Now we get to spend the next few days getting our stuff together for time in the field before leaving at the end of the week. Tomorrow, we get to pick our food. Lots of cookies and cakes, I’m sure, in addition to the pastas and other easily boilable foods we will be eating while we are out. Choosing it all will keep us busy. For now, off to write a paper.
Until the next time…

Mike looks the part Karl and Mike and Mt Erabus Mt. Erabus

Cool snow formations  Antarctic sunset  Wide angle view of McMurdo  Flags outside of NSF headquarters McMurdo

Wednesday October 29, 2003

click on a photo to see it full size
Bruce in the helecopter Clark Glacier Karl Kreutz in front of the helicopter Sea Ice and the open channel

Karl, Mike and I arrived at the landing pad at about noon after having been held up since the early morning by bad weather. Unfortunately, Erich was not able to come on this flight because there wasn’t room for all of us. When we arrived, we weighed ourselves and our bags so that the pilot would know how much weight would be on board when we were flying. It turned out Karl was the lightest; he weighed in at about 180 pounds. Mike and I were just a bit more. We were then fitted with our helmets, including internal radio so that we could hear each other during the flight (the engine is loud!), and sent out to the helicopter. When we got there, the ground assistant stowed our bags and gave us a talk about safety in and around helicopters, and then we got in and were off.

The nicest thing about flying in a helicopter is that we were never very far from the ground, so we could see everything around us and below us. Because the weather had cleared off, we had a wonderful view. Our flight started out across sea ice, and then we flew over three valleys with mountain peaks, snow and ice everywhere around us. We went to six glaciers during our flight, and we got out of the helicopter at each one. All of our landing sites were very flat (maybe 1 or 2 degrees of tilt), which is what we want for our ice cores. The first four were very cold (temperature around 0 degrees Fahrenheit and 10 mph winds made it chilly to walk around), and the snow was very hard. I noticed that we left almost no footprints, and in places we could sink an ice axe less than 3 inches into the surface. The last two glaciers were lower down (around 3000 feet instead of 6000 feet) and were a little bit warmer and less windy. This was a nice break after the colder air up higher. The snow was also softer here. Each of the glaciers was different from the last one, and all were beautiful, but I must say I liked the last two the best. (Maybe I was just glad not to be quite so cold!)

Finally, our helicopter took us from the last glacier to the edge of the sea ice near the Dry Valleys, where there is a refueling station. The helicopters cannot make it safely back to McMurdo unless they get fuel before the return flight. But this is the loneliest gas station I have ever seen! The whole station has a couple of shacks, some fuel barrels and a fuel pump. I saw only one person, though I think there must be more than that. I was also surprised that they fueled the helicopter in about the same time that it takes to fill a car.

Thursday October 30, 2003

click on a photo to see it full size
Mike Mike with helicopter helmet

After the helicopter flight yesterday we have a few good field sites in mind. We spent all day today getting all of the gear ready to go to the field. We have so much stuff! But when you think about each piece of gear, you realize that it is all necessary. Mike and I started putting together all of the food. They have a whole warehouse here filled with food, and you can take as much of anything that you want – except chocolate bars. You are only allowed to take two chocolate bars per day, but that’s more than enough I think. It’s very difficult planning for one month of food for five people – you don’t want to take too much, but you REALLY don’t want to take too little. So we spent a long time planning it all out.

There have been some questions about Mike, so we thought we’d introduce him to you all. Mike is our expert ice core driller, mountain guide, chef and entertainer. Karl and I first met him in the Saint Elias Mountains in Alaska this past summer on another expedition to do similar work to what we’re doing now. Mike was working on automatic weather stations, with which he also has expertise. Automatic weather stations are instruments that record temperature, atmospheric pressure, wind speed and direction, and even snow depth automatically. You can leave them on glaciers or mountains (or anywhere) for months or even years at a time, and all of the measurements are saved for you to download later. Mike was born in Poland, but now lives in Canada with his black Labrador retriever named Sade. I mentioned that Mike is also a chef. We will all be taking turns cooking in the field, but Mike is by far the most skilled of all of us, so we’ll be looking forward to his meals the most!

As for entertainment, he has many stories about his adventures around the North Pole with other researchers that keep us entertained on those cold nights in the field.

Friday October 31, 2003

We’re not really celebrating it today because the big Halloween costume party is tomorrow night. Today was more packing and planning, and getting ready for the field. We hope to fly into the field next Wednesday. Tonight we went to a haunted house here on McMurdo. Very scary!!

Saturday November 1, 2003

Today we spent a few hours on the sea ice near McMurdo base testing out our radios, our radar equipment, and our global positioning system (GPS) equipment. The radios are the same ones we learned how to use in snowcraft school last week. The radar allows us to see ice layers under the surface of the glacier so we can see where the best ice core sites are in the field. We don’t want to pick sites where the layers are.

In the Field

Friday November 7, 2003

click on a photo to see it full size
Sumner Beach, NZ Loading the C-17 getting settled for the flight

Day 1
Weather: Cloudy with southerly wind at McMurdo, cloudy and calm at Clark.
Temps: 10-15° F
Ice collected: 0 m

We arrived at the Clark Glacier via Bell 212 helicopter at 10 am. Took a total of 4 helicopter loads to transfer all of our gear and 4 passengers to the glacier. Each helo trip included a sling load where gear was carried in a net below in addition to filling the inside of the helo. All together, we have ~5000 lbs of gear, the majority of which is science gear including the radar and coring equipment.

The Clark glacier is a beautiful spot with mountains to the south and to the north, and we can see all the way to Mt. Erebus – the active volcano on Ross Island near McMurdo station.

We set-up our camp with three tents. We have two Scott tents, which are yellow pyramids with vents at the top so you can operate a stove inside. Each Scott tent sleeps two people very comfortably. The third tent is a red, blue and yellow Endurance tent, which we use for the kitchen/living room tent. We have two stoves in the kitchen tent and one each in the Scott tents (for heat + cooking in storms). The fifth person will sleep in the Endurance tent. For sleeping, we each have a small army-style cot, an air pad, a foam pad, a fleece sleeping bag liner, and a sleeping bag rated to -50�C. Very comfy! Mike made a small igloo for a freezer for our food, and we also made a snow toilet. Camp was set-up by evening and we broke for dinner. After dinner, Karl and Mike began checking for crevasses around camp and staking flags for the radar lines.

Saturday November 8, 2003

Day 2
Weather: Sunny and beautiful, afternoon southerly breeze
Temp: ˜10°F
Ice collected: 2 m

We spent all day digging a 2 m-deep snowpit and collecting snow samples from the wall of the pit. The samples we collected will be analyzed for major ion concentrations, trace metal concentrations, and stable oxygen and hydrogen isotope ratios back at UMaine. We also measured snow density and temperature throughout the sampling wall. When we sample, we have to wear special white suits that are very clean and do not leave any lint behind so that the samples do not get contaminated. We also use specially cleaned tools and bottles. We did not finish sampling until 10:45 pm.

Steve Arcone, the geophysicist who will operate the radar, arrived via helicopter at 1:30 pm. He came 1 day late because he had to finish his snow school. Steve set-up his gear and he began to run some radar survey lines with our help. The radar computer was set-up in an insulated black box on a sled with a generator for power. The radar transducer and receiver were dragged ˜20 feet behind the main sled in a separate sled. To collect the radar data, we had to pull the radar sleds along the survey lines at a constant speed. It was a tough job for 2 people, but with 4 people pulling it was not too hard. Each survey line was between ˜500 m and ˜2 km (1/4 mile to 1 mile), and red flags were placed every 100 m so that Steve could mark the radar record as we passed each flag. There were usually 4 survey lines on each glacier, and Steve usually wanted 2-4 radar surveys along each line, so we pulled that radar sled a long way over the entire 3 weeks!

Sunday November 9, 2003

Day 3
Weather: Sunny all day, strong southerly wind in afternoon (cold)
Temps: teens
Ice collected: 2 m

Radar survey all day – lots of man-hauling! Steve is very excited by the results. We are able to see all the way through the ice down to the bedrock below – total ice thickness is about 280 m (920 feet) – Steve has never been able to see this deep before. We are also able to see internal layers in the ice that shows us that the Clark is a very good site for ice coring.

Monday November 10, 2003

Sumner Beach, NZ Loading the C-17

Day 4
Weather: Cloudy in morning, clearing all day. Light southerly breeze
Temps: Teens
Ice collected: 14.5 m

Karl, Mike and Bruce drilled the ice core with a hand auger drill from the bottom of the 2 m snowpit and reached a total of 14.5 m deep. Drilling took almost all day. Steve and Erich helped drill in the morning, and then completed the first global positioning system (GPS) survey along the radar survey lines. The GPS uses satellites to give us very accurate positions for all of the red flags along the radar lines so that we can make accurate maps of the glacier when we are back in Maine. Unfortunately, the satellite coverage in Antarctica is not as good as it is in Maine, so we had to stop the GPS survey periodically to wait for more satellites to move overhead. To pass the time as they waited, Steve and Erich resorted to yoga, push-ups, and even a few games of chess in the snow with pieces made out of duct tape. The GPS antenna was mounted on the same sled that we used for the radar survey. Without the generator and heavy computer from the radar, the sled was much lighter, so it was much easier for Steve and Erich to pull it around the glacier.

Tuesday November 11, 2003

Day 5
Weather: Mostly clear in the morning with fog rolling in at ~1 pm. Calm.
Temps: Teens
Ice collected: 14.5 m

We did a second GPS survey and finished that off by late afternoon – a long day of hauling. Karl and Mike installed several aluminum poles into the glacier that we will use to measure how much snow falls in one year. They measured the distance from the top of the pole to the snow surface and marked it on the pole. Next year we will return to the poles and re-measure the distance to the snow surface.

Wednesday November 12, 2003

Day 6
Weather: Mostly clear with light wind
Temps: Teens
Ice collected: 14.5 m

Karl, Mike and Erich skied up a nearby slope to collect snow samples at higher altitude. Beautiful views of the valley and surrounding mountains. Returned by early evening. After dinner, Steve, Mike, Bruce and Erich went for a hike up the other side of the valley to collect more snow samples to compare the snow samples from our snowpit. Found some very interesting and beautiful rocks that have been sculpted by the wind.

Thursday November 13, 2003

click on a photo to see it full size
Sumner Beach, NZ Inside the plane

Day 7
Weather: Sunny and calm all day – beautiful.
Temps: Teens to low 20s
Ice collected: 14.5 m

In the morning we made the big move from the Clark to the Commonwealth glacier. It took a few hours to take down all of the tents and pack all of the gear into separate loads for the helicopter. This time it only took 3 loads to move all of our gear, and we were done with the move by ~1 pm. Very fast for a total camp move! By ~3 pm, we had the camp set-up at the Commonwealth glacier with the same arrangement of tents as on the Clark. Mike and Karl once again started to flag the radar lines, and Steve, Bruce and Erich started the first radar surveys. We were very pleased to have moved camp and done some science in the same day. The Commonwealth may be even more beautiful than the Clark, with mountains almost all around. We can see towards the south again and actually see Ob Hill next to McMurdo station. The sea ice is starting to break up and we can see open ocean and some icebergs.

Friday November 14, 2003

Day 8
Weather: Sunny and calm all day
Temps: teens
Ice collected: 14.5 m

Radar surveys all day. The Commonwealth is another very deep glacier (~300 m deep). The internal ice layers are very complex – much different from the Clark where everything was simple. It is more complex here because there are other glaciers feeding into the Commonwealth further up-glacier. More radar lines will be needed to find the best ice core site.

Saturday November 15, 2003

Sumner Beach, NZ Inside the plane

Day 9
Weather: Overcast all day – cool clouds rolling over the hills. Light wind
Temps: Teens
Ice collected: 17.5 m

Two researchers from Ohio State University, Tim and Rebecca, arrived via helicopter in the morning from a camp at Lake Hoare in the Dry Valleys below. They will stay with us for two days to sample the snow pit for Mercury. After they arrived, we dug a 3 m-deep snowpit and began to collect samples. Very long day – did not stop sampling until 10 pm.

Sunday November 16, 2003

Sumner Beach, NZ Loading the C-17

Day 10
Weather: Overcast and calm
Temps: Low 20s
Ice collected: 17.5 m

Continued to sample the 3 m-deep snow pit all day. Once the pit was finished, we collected a few new radar lines to find the best core location – found a great one! After dinner, we all hiked up the nearby ridge to collect some samples and enjoy the view.

Monday November 17, 2003

Day 11
Weather: Mostly cloudy and windy all day. Light snow by evening
Temps: Very cold: ~5�F
Ice collected: 29.5 m

Tim and Rebecca left via helicopter to return to their camp at Lake Hoare. We spent the whole day drilling the ice core from the bottom of the snowpit with the hand auger all the way down to ~15 m depth – a very good core!

Tuesday November 18, 2003

Day 12
Weather: Light snow all day with wind from the east
Temps: ~10�F
Ice collected: 30.5 m

Conducted our GPS survey along the radar lines all day. Karl and Mike dug an additional 1 m-deep snowpit and dug behind the pit as well to make a back-lit pit. It was very cool to see all of the different layers of snow light-up (see picture). Each layer has a different density, and may represent up to one year of snowfall.

Wednesday November 19, 2003

Day 13
Weather: Snow and windy, visibility down to 100 m or so.
Temps: ~10�F
Ice collected: 30.5 m

Did some snow sampling and analysis of the new 1 m-deep back-lit snowpit. The weather became much worse after that. We all retired to our tents to wait out the storm.

Thursday November 20, 2003

Day 14
Weather: Storm continues. Strong southerly wind with snow. Lots of blowing and drifting snow.
Temps: Teens?
Ice collected: 30.5 m

Today was supposed to be our day to move to the Blue Glacier, but there is no chance for the helicopter to fly in this weather. We spent all day in tents reading to wait out the storm.

Friday November 21, 2003

Sumner Beach, NZ Loading the C-17

Day 15
Weather: Beautiful day – clear and sunny, calm
Temps: Teens
Ice collected: 30.5 m

Broke down our camp and moved to our new camp on the Blue Glacier. It took 3 helo flights, and everything went very smoothly again. Finished setting up the new camp by evening. Mike and Erich are starting to come down with a cold.
The Blue glacier is the most beautiful site yet. To the west of camp is Mt. Lister, with beautiful horizontal rock layers and high, jagged peaks. To the west are some lower ridges and hills. Several glaciers cascade down Mt. Lister into the Blue Glacier, with ice falls and several crevasse fields. Just a magnificent site!

Saturday November 22, 2003

Day 16
Weather: Overcast all day with low clouds and fog, steady easterlies, light snow.
Temps: High teens, low 20s
Ice collected: 30.5 m

Collected radar profiles all day. The Blue glacier is much bigger than the Clark and Commonwealth and is also much deeper. The radar cannot see all the way to the bottom of the ice, but it is probably over 500 m deep in some places. Like the Commonwealth, the internal ice layers are complicated, so we must collect lots of radar data to find the best ice core site. Erich and Mike feeling worse. Steve starting to feel sick now, too.

Sunday November 23, 2003

Day 17
Weather: Overcast and calm all day. Light snow
Temps: Teens
Ice collected: 30.5 m

Collected more radar profiles all day to find the best coring site. Thanks to Steve and his radar, we found a great one again! Erich and Mike feeling better – Steve feeling worse.

Monday November 24, 2003

click on a photo to see it full size
Loading the C-17

Day 18
Weather: High thin clouds and fog all day, flurries
Temps: Teens
Ice collected: 32.5 m

Spent all day digging the 2 m-deep snowpit and collecting snow samples. Steve still not feeling well.

Tuesday November 25, 2003

Loading the C-17 Loading the C-17

Day 19
Weather: Clear in the morning, overcast in the afternoon, easterly wind
Temps: 20s in sun, teens under overcast
Ice collected: 48.5 m

Steve and Erich conducted the GPS survey of the radar lines while Karl, Mike and Bruce drilled the ice core with the hand auger. They cored all the way to 18 m deep, the longest core yet! After dinner, Karl, Mike and Erich skied up a nearby ridge to collect snow samples at higher altitude to compare to the snowpit samples. Beautiful views down into the surrounding glaciers. Returned by midnight. All of our science is now done! We celebrate a very successful trip.

Wednesday November 26, 2003

Sumner Beach, NZ

Day 20
Weather: Beautiful steady, light snow all day with 3 cm total new snow. Thin clouds, calm.
Temps: Teens to low 20s
Ice collected: 48.5 m

With all of our science completed and bad weather, there is nothing to do but read.