Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Summer's here in earnest

Well, it's safe to say that the frenetic summer season has arrived this week. Flights have been coming in as scheduled, and lots of them. I think we've had at least 7 flights each day this week. With those flights we have pretty much got most of our core summer staff, and have already started the high cyclic rate of short-timers passing in and out of the Pole. I guess there are between 120 and about 180 summer staff at Pole, and we'll easily have 800 total people cycle through over the season. That's a lot of new faces that are here one day and (literally) gone tomorrow.

So, where have I been spending most of my time? Right here at my desk in the B2 science lab in the new elevated station:

My other "office" is my locker for my fire fighting gear, including all my bunker gear and SCBA rig. Even though I don't nominally go into the fire/HAZMAT/trauma scene, I still have to don my gear in case it became necessary for me to leave my role directing the actions of the fire brigade and coordinating them with the other emergency response teams to do search and attack inside the scene during an incident. This is a pretty gnarly place to learn how to fight fires, with little things like your gear freezing solid if you wear it outside too long to make things even more interesting than your average run of the mill fire fighting back in more reasonable climes.

As something fun, and good for PR, the science support department (all three of us right now) picked up a request from some middle schoolers in New Mexico that are studying the length of shadows of a meter stick at noon in the run up to the solstice. We opted to do the measurements out at the Pole itself, but the sun was behind the white sign with the quotes from Amundsen and Scott about their arrival at the Pole, so we had to take that down for the real measurement (but put it back up for this photo we staged afterwards. We kept the tape measure the same length, though!

You might notice I'm wearing a new brown coat in that picture. I've doffed Big Red for the time being. It was just too hot for the warmer temperatures we've been having (-39F right now, which is almost the same as -39C). Earlier in the season, when my predecessor Jason and I went out on safari into the antenna fields, it was colder and I did need Big Red's warmth. We got about a mile from the station, and the vista was unobstructed by any human development.

You really gain an appreciation for the humble neck gaiter down here. That unglamorous tube of fleece is instrumental in keeping your nasal capillaries from quickly freezing in the cold. It's also a great way to keep off the solar radiation, which is pretty intense with all that snow reflecting 90% of the sun's energy back up at you.

1 comment:

Becky said...

So with all of those flights are you getting mail and freshies? I love the feeling that it's too warm at the South Pole to need your heavy coat. The pics are great. Fun blog- and you post so often! I could never manage more than once a week or so.
Good luck with the NASA stuff. I'm still friends with the husband of one of the current batch of astronauts, so if you want direct contatc info email me.