South Pole Diaries 1999/2000    


13th January:

From Jessica:

Dear all,

We had our first day of *bad* weather yesterday. In the half hour of lunch (or maybe it was an hour), the sky went from blue to blistering white, and the wind chill temp dropped to nearly -60C at one point, and blowing snow made visibility limited. It is so much like a desert in this weather. The snow is rippled just like sand dunes , and in this blowing weather you understand why. If anything, it was more blindingly white with the sun hidden, and the snow whipping across the ground looks just like a white dust storm. And enough sun glances through the clouds to make the sheets of diamond dust glimmer. It is beautiful.

Saw the most amazing ice halo yesterday also. Even with the sun hidden, this huge circle appeared around the sun, dipping to the horizon, and upwards half way to the zenith. Above that, a circular rainbow appeared, and to the left and right of the sun, on the big circle, these two bright spots, shimmering with colour, sat for an hour. These sundogs were spectacular, and for a little while, in a line through these sundogs, a line went entirely around the sky. I will try to get some photos if it occurs again, but the ones I have seen in photos don't quite capture the hidden colour in the white arcs, but I shall attempt it.

Very productive day yesterday despite the weather. We packed up the fried DCU for the TEG, and it is ready to be shipped back to the land of Oz. Andre has done the most amazing job with the racks. When we got here they were green, rust brown and black, and parts of them oozed. 

We also disconnected the propane from the AAST0, which sounds easy, since we assumed that the propane had been switched off at the tanks. A few lungfulls of propane disabused us of this concept. We spent the next hour degassing the pipes, and alternating between choking on stinking fumes and freezing when we held the door open to let the gas out. But we didn't die, surprisingly. I mentioned to a passing GA that if the AASTO did explode our last wish would be that the burning wreckage fuelled quite appropriately by burning propane, should be used to cook up one hell of a barbie.

A fellow also popped in yesterday and mentioned that they were coming in to remove about three feet of snow from around the AASTO. Bye bye trench. I am going to take some photos of it today. Devastated. Life goes on. Andre redid the second lots of racks last night, hopefully in the same lovely shade.

Oh, and some good news. I have two extra days at the pole!!! After some lobbying and campaigning by several wonderful fellows here, I am now not leaving until the 17th instead of tomorrow. woo hoo! Which means I will catch up with both Jill and John, which I am pleased about. Ok, this satellite has dropped out five times since starting this email, so I am going to cut my losses. Thanks to all those Australians telling me how hot is is up there. I am glad someone has beach weather.

Ok, enough from me, lovely to hear from all, keep it up,


Jess :)


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