Hi everyone! Dave has already introduced me, but I’m Carol Costanza and I’m a research intern at the Antarctic Meteorological Research Center. This is my first time to Antarctica, so this past week has been a whirlwind of new and awesome experiences!
I’m going to start off with getting issued our ECW (Extreme Cold Weather) gear in Christchurch, NZ on Monday, 15 December. We watched a couple of videos about issues including NSF policies, medical issues, and proper clothing. Then we proceeded to try on our clothing to make sure that it all fit properly.
Some of the gear I got included a red parka, snow pants, bunny boots, goggles, gloves, mittens, glove liners, neck warms, a fleece jacket, fleece pants, and a balaclava. This clothing was then all stored at the CDC (Clothing Distribution Center) in orange bags until our flight to Antarctica. Then we were delayed for a day in New Zealand, but we did head back to the CDC two days later on Wednesday, 17 December for our flight down to the ice at 1pm.
Before the flight we had to change into our ECW gear and then weigh all of our gear. We had a fairly strict weight limit of 75 pounds of checked bags and 15 pounds for carry on. We checked in for our flight and then we watched some more training videos about the flight. We all had to check in for our flight early, so we had plenty of time to grab some food and play a couple of games of cribbage!
Then we got ready to get on the plane! We took a short bus ride to the runway and we were given ear plugs and a lunch when we entered the plane. It was an 8 hour flight that was long and very loud. Here a couple of pictures of what it looked like on the inside.
Then once we landed we took a Delta, a bus with HUGE wheels, to McMurdo base. At this point it was already close to 10pm, so we were getting pretty tired. Then we had the pleasure of sitting through another briefing of PowerPoints and finally we got our room keys and got our bags. It was a long day of travel that started with leaving our hotel in New Zealand at 8am and arriving in McMurdo at about 10 or 11pm.
We had another early morning and then we began another round of training. First, we had snowmobile training at 8am where we learned how to fix them and ride them. It was a lot of fun going out on the ice sheet and riding around for about 30 minutes!
Then we went to Field Support and Training (FS&T) Antarctic Field Safety course. We learned about assessing risk and being safe in the field. We then got to test out making tents and starting a whisper stove.
That was all of the training for Thursday! Then on Friday I had some more training about driving trucks (no I didn’t drive an trucks), waste management, and emergency firehouse information. Then Dave and I went to high altitude training since we are going to be heading to South Pole in about 3 weeks. We learned all about altitude sickness and how to use a GAMOW bag. Someone in our class wanted to get in the bag, so we had him go in the bag and actually use it. Basically you increase the pressure inside the bag which simulates moving to a lower altitude.
Finally, we toured through Crary lab and the weather office. We plan to head back to the weather office for a weather balloon launch sometime soon 🙂
I have been taking a lot more photos and video along the way. I plan to edit a couple of videos, but I’m not sure if I will be able to share them through this blog due to the size of the files and the slower internet at McMurdo. I’m hoping I can find a way!
I’m looking forward to getting out in the field and sharing some more experiences with you!