Sunday, November 9, 2008

Heading into the continent

Tomorrow I'll be flying deep into the interior of the continent to work at a field camp on the West Antarctic Ice Shelf. I'll be there about three weeks, depending on weather, setting up arch tents and shoveling a winter's worth of snow to get the camp up and running.

Scientists are drilling thousands of feet down through the ice sheet to collect an ice core dating back 100,000(!) years. The snow builds up discrete layers each year, appearing like tree rings in the ice core. Each layer contains carbon dioxide from the year it was deposited, which can be released and measured from the ice. It will take several more years of drilling to get to the bottom layer of the ice plateau, but they will then know how much CO2 was in the atmosphere going back 100,000 years! This can then be compared to historic temperatures to find the correlation between them, enabling predictions of future global warming based on current rising atmospheric CO2 levels. Pretty awesome research.

There's a great video HERE that shows the camp and further explains the project. I recommend it!

Also, here's somebody else's video of the camp last year. The yellow arch tents you see are what we're going to be building. The little camping tent he's getting out of is what I'll be living in...

Anyways, I'm pretty excited to be getting on to actual continent (I've only been on an island on the coast until now), and be working in a very small community (~20 people) now that the station has 1000 running around. And everybody says the food is So Good out there. And I'm really looking forward to living out of a tent, camping in the 24-hour sun!

There isn't any phone or internet out there, so I'll talk to you all when I get back! Have a great November!!

Love, James