Posted by: sioglac | Nov 14, 2011

One more thing…

As of 5:25PM McMurdo time, there were 138 views of this blog. If that’s just one person pushing refresh, thank you for making me feel loved. If there really are 100+ of you reading this, (a) thanks for reading! and (b) I know you have questions. It’s not possible for me to fully describe my experience and even if I did, you’d still have questions, because I have questions. ASK ME THESE QUESTIONS IN THE COMMENTS OR VIA EMAIL!

No questions are off limits. I already blogged about pee bottles. I have ever intention of telling you about the ridiculousness of every day life in the middle of nowhere on an ice sheet that’s protected by an international treaty. So don’t be shy. Even the basic stuff works, like “How big is Antarctica?” (answer: larger than the continental US). I know most people know next to nothing about this place. Even we scientists are only scratching the surface. Ipso facto, that which I study was only discovered 5 years ago. And if you are embarrassed by your question, post it anonymously. So ask away, my readers.



  1. Any penguins yet? Real ones, I mean.

    • No penguins yet. There are a few penguin rookeries on Ross Island (which is where McMurdo Station is) but they aren’t visible from here. Later in the season, the penguins apparently will venture down around Hut Point (home of Scott’s Discovery Hut so I might see them on my return trip…

  2. Do survivalist instincts override the hipster penguins’ desire to stray from the colony?

    • Penguins are the OG hipster. But I think survivalist instincts kick in at some point. Haven’t you watched Happy Feet?!

      • I haven’t. Do the penguins wear Tigers and overpay for cans of PBR? Seems like a weird storyline…

  3. Ok, legit question. How do you guys plan on staying warm on the ice? Just relying on body heat, tent protection & lots of layers? Imagine bonfires and battery-operated space heaters are frowned upon when your floor can melt…

    • Staying warm is obviously the most important objective on ice as personal safety comes before science. For starters, eating and drinking constantly provides the necessary fuel for our body to maintain homeostasis. After that, we have lots and lots of layers. Wool or synthetic base layer, one or two polar fleece or wool layers (I prefer Icebreaker for these layers), then an outer layer that is temperature dependent (either a wind shell or Big Red). Covering the neck and head is critical too as a ton of body heat is released in those areas.

      As for in camp, we have 24 hours a day of solar radiation. Because of that, our mountaineering-style tents actually get pretty toasty during the day (thank you greenhouse effect. We also will have two large communal tents that will be subject to greenhouse warming as well as cooking, body heat, etc. And it also helps a lot that we will be in a location that is relatively mild.

  4. What time zone will you assign yourself on the ice?

    • Although the Whillans Ice Stream (where we will be) is technically on the other side of the international date line (about 150-160 degrees W, thus making the time change from McMurdo about -22 hours), we will stick to the current McMurdo time, which is locked to New Zealand time. McMurdo time is locked to New Zealand time to make the air traffic logistics easier and then the deep-field camps are locked to McMurdo time to make field logistics easier. Case in point, we have to “check in” with McMurdo Operations every morning at a certain hour by HF radio. If there was a time change involved, bad math would result in the unnecessary mobilization of the search and rescue teams. Lots of wasted resources in that situation…

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