On the Ice

5 January 2020: First Week

Since the New Year, I have been going through different trainings so that I can go out in the field, as well as know the rules and way of life in McMurdo. The most important training session to go out in the field was called Antarctic Field Safety, which went over survival skills in the possible harsh environments and what is in the survival bags (brought with on every aircraft or truck that goes out of town). We learned how to start a fire with the fuel can and mini stove, set up the tent that’s provided, and how to prevent getting to the hypothermia stage. Lot’s of good information and skills to know, just in case.

My first time starting a mini stove with a fuel can.

I also had some free time with Josh to hike up Observation Hill. I had been looking forward to doing this hike, but it was much steeper than I imagined. Although it was a lot of work to get to the top, it was such a beautiful view and well worth the hike. The way down was also a little rough, but at least gravity helped and we laughed our whole way down. I felt very accomplished afterwards, I had never done such a tough hike before!

Me at the top of Observation Hill (photo credit to Josh).

I knew the Wisconsin Badgers played in the Rose Bowl on 2 January down here, so I made sure to have time to watch some of the game. I was so glad when I realized the TV’s had sports channels and got the game!

I got to visit the Mac Weather office to check on one of our displays there and the lead forecaster gave Lee and I a mini tour of the observing roof they had. It was really cool to see the instruments, antennas, and satellite dishes they had, as well as take in the incredible views. We could even see the Icebreaker ship way out past Hut Point.

Rooftop view of Mac Weather with a pinprick Icebreaker beyond the peninsula and to the right of the “ball.”

On 5 January, I took a tour of Crary Lab so I could see the touch tank of Antarctic marine life in Phase 3 of the building and learn what they study down there. I got to see starfish, sea urchins, slugs, anemones, sea spiders, fish and an isopod. The researcher there said he mostly studied the sea spiders and showed us the biggest one they had! I stuck to holding the sea urchin since spiders aren’t my favorite. Every season, the researchers catch all these animals and then release them before they leave.

Holding the sea urchin! (Sea spider to the right in the water)

There’s been a lot of work in the lab preparing to go to more stations. This upcoming week we are hoping to get out to a few sites, so stay tuned for where we go next!



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