Down to the Line at WAIS

Two weeks left for me in this waisland. I should be on the second or third to last flight out sometime around Feb. 3. Next Wednesday a herd of carpenters arrive to dismantle the mantles. Our camp population will nearly double and given the carp appetite I’m preparing for food consumption to triple. I’m also taking on the responsibility to bake off dozens of loaves of bread, cookies, desserts and quiches so that when I’m gone Russ’el ain’t left with too many baking tasks. Earlier he said he might use all the goods for put-in next year and it’s kinda cool to know that although I won’t return to WAIS next November my sweets will still be here and in use. When the returnees shove those cookies in their mouth during the first couple weeks they just may remember that Cody kid.

Yeah, that kid below nibbling on a drumstick at a Reds game with his grandpa, Bill K, who's sporting the infamous red shirt.

Temps are slowly dropping, work is picking up and snowboard is in use more. This means only one thing… higher caloric uptake.

10 days of no eggs, sugar and butter meant homemade pizzas and bagel bars. Yesterday’s flight brought in those missing ingredients and I’m once again confident that we will fare well in the 2012 Antarctic Chef Competition. Garlic-onion, blueberry and plain bagels.

Next to a line of different cream cheeses, spreads, cheeses and fruit toppers.

This guy asked me to turn the kitchen temperature up. Ha! And look what it did. Eat that steam! You asked for it, James.

Break time to the near winter berms where there be a few nice hills to drop in on to practice surfin balance.

Boss Dean brought his board and I thank him dearly for sharing it. We would never waste boarding times at WAIS.

You can hit up the groomed hills…

or the not so groomed hills. Half the time I drop into a nice foot or two of loosely packed snow and go under.

Flip this.

Yesterday I got invited to the blue room. After a bit of cooking and boarding I hopped on a sled and was taken to Archland.

My first stop was to see E and Jayrad who were drilling a mini hole to about 70 meters.

A listing of depths they’ve hit.

It reminded me a bit of ice fishing. If you hold the line while it’s drilling you can feel how it’s drilling and any breakage of the cores. If it bites hard then it most likely means there's gonna be some crackage.

Here’s the drill core coming up out of the hole.

After leveling it out the head spins as to remove any excess snow around the core.

E pulling the core out.

Releasing the core.

Measuring its length.

We put a near-surface core next to a deeper one and saw a difference in density based on how white they were. The core to the left came from 69 meters and the one on the right was taken a few meters down from surface. Density increases with depth and as the density increases, air pockets become filled with ice and the parcel becomes clearer.

These shallow cores will be used in the same manner as the ones taken from thousands of meters down in the Arch. They will give clues to the study of ice
characteristics and atmospheric chemistry. I can’t help but give it a lick. “Mmm… tastes like there are no anthropogenic greenhouses gases in there.” Carbon dating vs. taste dating.

After a taste of the past I headed to the blue room.

A couple core handlers and I brushed away snow from plywood that is positioned around the blue room.

After the snow was off, we pulled away the boards so that sunlight can reach three snow walls. The room is rectangular with three walls exposed to sunlight,
one wall not exposed and the roof shrouded by boards and snow.

Ah, the blue room.

Why is it blue? Only the blue spectrum of the visual wavelengths of solar incident radiation can penetrate the ice several feet down. The broader wavelengths are scattered.

Checking out the layers. The room is about 7 feet in height yet only contains four years of snow pack. Winter seasons display denser, dark snow layers. Summer seasons display fragile, lighter layers. Why the difference? I’m guessing it has to do with the ice formation in different climate scenarios. Summertime has more humidity and bigger snowflakes, which results in more air pockets between the flakes. Wintertime results in a finer snow that packs more compact. It snows less in winter, but there’s more blowing snow because there’s more wind and I’m sure that as flakes travel across the ice sheet they break down due to friction and grow finer too. Maybe?

Within a one year parcel you can easily notice storms. Wind alters even layering. Below the loosely packed lighted layer near the center you will see a layer that has a mix of light and dark snow. Summer and winter snow mixed together. Was this spring? Fall?

Look at this layer ;) What caused it? Density? Shape of snow flake? Albedo? Altitude of creation? Does it's chemistry show a lag time in greenhouse gas transfer between the poles? Is the sky blue and this room blue because of the same reasons? Oh, how I scratch my head. The quasi-fathomable face of scientific queries begets even more curiosity after obtaining a single and simple fact.