I am back in McMurdo, Antarctica again for another field season. I am getting ready to redeploy to Lake Hoare, which is my home away from home. It is wonderful to be back in the world of ice, snow and 24 hours of sunlight. It was a bit of an ordeal getting to the ice this time. I had the pleasure of doing my first boomerang between Christchurch and McMurdo. A boomerang is when the flight turns around and heads back to its point of departure. In our case, the turn around point was about 30 minutes from McMurdo. There was a heavy sigh of disbelief through the airplane when the news was broken, since we had already spent 5 hours cooped up like chickens on the plane. Attached is a picture of the C141 plane we flew in to McMurdo. If you have never had the pleasure of flying in one, it is quite the opposite of your comfortable commercial airplane. After putting on our warm ECW (extreme cold weather) gear, which you can imagine in the spring temperatures of Christchurch was terrible uncomfortable, we were hoarded on to the plane. The seats on a C141 consist of webbing, strung between metal piping. There are four rows on the plane, with each person facing another. There is picture entitled 'Cramped' to this imagine which shows the seating arrangements. The quality of the image is not great, but at least you get a feel for the tightness of the seating arrangement. Leg room is definitely limited. In my case I had several large people sitting next to me, so it was even more cramped. Part of the time I spent standing up on my web seat, since there is very little space in the aisle. Walking to the front or back of the plane is also challenging. Basically you have to step carefully around very large white boots.
Cramped plane ride
So, you can imagine the expression of disbelief when we were told we had to go back to Christchurch, after getting so close to McMurdo. I also heard that shortly after the decision was made to turn around, the visibility improved dramatically in McMurdo. It was hard to swallow knowing we had to go back to Christchurch since we knew that we would have to wake up the next day and do the flight all over again. Luckily, the following day the weather was beautiful in McMurdo and we landed at around 9pm. It is also fortunate that we got in when we did, because the weather turned from sunny skies to a ragging snow storm and I would probably be still sitting in Christchurch waiting for the next opening in the weather.Getting off the plane this year was not as much as a shock to the system as it was last year, when the temps were below 0F. This year the temperature was an unseasonable 28F.
Now I will be waiting for the weather to clear to get back out to Lake Hoare, which was my home last year. I will be doing pretty much the same work as I did last year. I will be measuring the bamboo stakes on 6 glaciers in Taylor Valley and working on the meteorological stations in Taylor and also Wright and Victoria valleys. I will also be again helping out Robin, a graduate student from Portland, with her work on the Taylor Glacier. For the first part of the season, Susan Kaspari from Colorado will be helping me out with the glacier and meteorology work.
I will send some updates from my life at Lake Hoare and the Dry Valleys. I hope you are well and have an enjoyable fall season (or spring if you are in the southern hemisphere).