Friday, October 12, 2007

A walk to the hut point

The weather has warmed up due to a warm front and we have seen clear skyes in the past 24 hours. Conditions are really calm and the temperatures are a "balmy" -14C/+7F. The satellite image for yesterday shows a clear map view of the area. Click the image on the right to get a larger view with the location of McMurdo Station and the SMS (Southern McMurdo Sound drill site). The station is on Hut Point Peninsula. It is called "Hut Point" because Scott's hut is there, where he and his party stayed in 1902-1904 (2 winters!). I took a short walk out to the hut last night. There is still a frozen seal lying next to it. Scott and his men used blubber as fuel for their stoves.

Yesterday we also attended a sea ice lecture, because we will be traveling out to the drill site later on by Hagglund or Piston Bully (more on those vehicles later). There are numerous cracks in the sea ice due to tidal action and pressure from glaciers pushing against the sea ice and we learned what is still safe to cross (ice thickness > 30"). The sea ice surface can be quite rough and can be buckling up in places due to pressure, such as in the photo here.
Every year the sea ice will break out and melt so there could be open water closer to McMurdo later in the season. The SMS drillsite is on multi-year sea ice that hardly ever breaks out. The ice is about 7-8 m thick with 400 m of water below it.
Yesterday I was reminded of the previous cold conditions when we were camping on the ice shelf by a blister on my finger, that I had since then. I confirmed with the doctor here that it is frostbite, but a mild form, which will heal completely. One of my colleagues had worse forms on his toes. Very typical injury around here...

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