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Video Dispatch : Skidoos

In our live webcast at the Exploratorium last weekend (to watch click here) we aired some as-of-yet-unseen video dispatches I made at Siple Dome, Antarctica. During the webcast we also mentioned a couple of video dispatches we didn’t have time to get to– videos made out in the field on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. One of those videos was a short clip I made of what a skidoo looks like as it goes over the ice — posted here. The other video also posted here was taken aboard a skidoo as we approached our camp on the ice sheet. This one gives you a real sense of the vastness of the ice sheet as well as how bumpy skidoo rides can be. (For those with motion-sickness or aversion to bumpy footage, this second video be one you want to skip.)

In our webcast Saturday, Slawec described riding a skidoo as akin to riding a mechanical bull. The comparison fits because of the bumpy ride the skidoo gives as it travels across snow formations on the ice. The surface on the ground is much like a frozen ocean– with frozen waves like small “snow dunes,” called sastrugi. Because of these sastrugi, the irregular surface makes it dangerous to travel much faster than about 25 km/hr.

Unloading our skidoos at our field camp on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

This first video shows what a skidoo hauling a sled looks like. See how tricky it can be to pull them!

skidoopass.wmv (Windows)

skidoopass.mp4 (Everything else)

This second video was taken atop a skidoo as we rode into camp. While it really gives you a sense of how vast the ice sheet is, those averse to bumpy footage might want to steer clear.

skidoo_to_camp.wmv (Windows)

skidoo_to_camp.mp4 (Everything else)

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3 Responses »

  1. I am a technology training specialist with the Bellevue Public Schools in Bellevue, Nebraska. I love checking your website and have recommended it to many of our fourth through sixth grade classes. How great it will be for them to follow your research! Thanks so much for adding to the website. Know that there are many of us interested in what you are doing and what it is like for you to be there doing it.

    Barbara Jones

  2. The time you are live does not coincide with my classes. Will we be able to view the clips at any time?
    Thank you for a reply

  3. Hi Barbara and Judy– I’m so happy to hear that you’ve been following our project! While we’ve wrapped up our field work for this season now, you can still look through everything that Slawec and I posted for as long as you’d like. (Everything will remain on this site.) As Ice Stories features other ongoing projects in Antarctica and– soon– the Arctic, this site will be consistently updated even though Slawec and I happened to have completed our field work for this season. We’ll be keeping tabs on the comments, so if you have any questions, please submit another comment and we’ll respond.
    Thanks so much for your interest in our project!