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Sunny Days Are Here

SOUTH POLE, ANTARCTICA– Well to tell the truth, there hasn’t been too much to write about lately until now (hence the reason I have been absent in writing lately). But now we have the sun well above the horizon and it’s great to see again. Not only has it made my walk to ARO (Atmospheric Research Observatory) easier, being outside in the sun sparks a bit of energy and helps motivate to get some work done as we get ready to turn over to next year’s crew.

Notice the bit of sunlight on the side of my face!

The main station and sunrise. This photo was actually taken a day before “official” sunrise. In actuality, the sun takes a several days to rise.

On station, we have begun the large list of tasks posted by our station manager which mostly involve shoveling out buildings that have been dormant for the winter, and performing deep cleans of bathrooms, hallways, and work areas. I’ve decided that I have spent enough time inside so I volunteered for a few shoveling tasks namely the cargo office, cargo DNF (the building that houses cargo waiting to be sent out or received that can’t be frozen), and a summer camp Jamesway tent. The FEMC (Facilities Engineering Maintenance and Construction) crew is probably the busiest group with the station opening work as they have to get fuel to all the buildings and start heating them up so they are ready when the summer folks arrive. Our heavy equipment operators are busy as well removing snow and beginning to smooth out the skiway for the first flights. They have had a little bit of trouble due to the cold temperatures because they cannot operate the bulldozers under certain temps.

The BIF (Balloon Inflation Facility) is just below the Sun. To half cylinder shaped buildings to the left are the Jamesways that are being dug out and warmed up for the summer crew.

At ARO, I’m just finishing up inventory to figure out what needs to be shipped down during the summer. It is mostly unchanged from last year because we haven’t had many problems with the instruments this year so there will probably just be a few items to alert people back at ESRL in Boulder, Colorado about. We are also at our intensive ozonesonde launching period where we are launching every 2-3 days as opposed to our normal one per week. It’s been rather unexciting in the depletion department this year. It seems that the polar vortex may not be all that well defined as some years with very low ozone levels. A description of the process of the annual ozone layer destruction over Antarctica can be read in my previous post, “The Ozone Hole: It’s Still There!” Once the sun is a little higher in the sky, we will be able to resume daily measurements with the Dobson Spectrophotometer (measures total column ozone through the atmosphere).

The solar instruments have also been placed back on the roof and are collecting data again. Initially they were having trouble with the -90F temperatures, but we have seemed to iron out the problems and they are now tracking the sun well. For an overview of the solar instruments, see the previous post, “As Sunset Approaches, Let’s Talk Solar Radiation”.

The roof of ARO and various solar instruments.

The next thing that is on tap for myself is organizing all of the flask samples that have been taken over the winter and getting them ready to ship out in the summer. Mostly that just involves writing up the paperwork so it’s ready to go for my replacement (yay paperwork!). Oh, and packing. The thing I look forward to least is also on the agenda. I will need to find boxes to ship home all the things that have kept me entertained here such as my Playstation 3 and movies. As well as excess clothing that I don’t want to travel with.

As I mentioned in “The Ozone Hole: It’s Still There!”, I will be posting an ozonesonde launch with the plastic balloons that we use. Don’t worry, I haven’t forgot! I have it videotaped and will get it posted soon!

Here are some more nice pictures during the last month or so:

The Moon and Venus. The were the last two visible objects in the sky as the sun was closer to coming above the horizon.

ARO from halfway between the station and ARO

The Moon over the Clean Air Sector, directly opposite of the rising Sun.

Nice reflection off the corner of ARO

The Moon about to set out over SPT (South Pole Telescope)
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3 Responses »

  1. Awesome pictures cannot wait to hear more from the crew.

  2. wow thats amazing it must be so cool down there especially the northern lights

  3. Thanks Natasha! The auroras are great indeed!