Posted by: sioglac | Dec 23, 2013

337 days later…

Better late than never, right?

Last time we talked, I was giving updates from my time in McMurdo Station, Antarctica, waiting for a plane to come whisk me away to the beautiful Whillans Ice Stream and I guess I never gave you any updates since then. Well whisk me away it did. Team GPS then had 12 days to do about 21 days worth of work. It was a crazy, crazy field season, with little time to catch your breathe and write a blog post (though I suppose I’ve had 325 days since then…). Team GPS finished almost everything we wanted to accomplish in those 12 days and Drill Team drilled into Subglacial Lake Whillans and kept the hole open for four days of science.

Given how compact the season was and how much could have gone wrong due to factors out of everyone’s control, it ended up being wildly successful. WISSARD was named the 12th (!!) top science story of 2013 by Discover Magazine, while Helen and I were featured in a UCSD Alumni Magazine article. Since it’s actually impossible to put into words how cool it is to find myself right in the middle of a project like this, I’ll leave it at this: WISSARD was deemed a better science story than scientists successfully performing a Vulcan Mind Meld. Any year you beat out Star Trek technology is a good year.

I’ll do a full round up of the awesome science that is coming out of the 2012/2013 field season some other day. Feel free though to peruse pictures of last year here. Then there’s the whole story of The Shutdown, which is definitely a post unto itself, so we’ll skip that for now, and move onto the present. Guess what I’m doing right this very instant…

Can’t fly a plane through that stuff.

If you guessed “sitting in McMurdo, waiting for a plane, like every other year,” you’d be right. In fact, my tales of being stuck waiting for a plane have started to become something of McMurdo lore. The newest chapter of our legend: after 2 weeks of absolutely perfect weather in McMurdo (mid 30s, no wind, no clouds), our team is scheduled as a primary flight to our field site last Friday. Thursday evening, at about 8PM, with no warning at all, these clouds that look straight out of a horror movie come rolling in over island, engulfing first just the airfield, then all of McMurdo in a dense ground fog. Those in charge of planning flights into and out of McMurdo are now convinced I’m cursed. Lovely.

So like every year, we wait.

This year there are many silver linings: our group had an unplanned overlap with some friends we wouldn’t have seen otherwise (like Hilary, whose blog you should be reading religiously), we get to have an unexpected Christmas Dinner in McMurdo (which I can only imagine is as good or better than the unexpected Thanksgiving I had here two years ago), and, best of all, I got to make my first ginger bread house. Ever. In my life.

It’s penguins curling with Santa’s helicopter in the background. This is what happens when your team has a helo pilot and a Canadian on it.

As a quick programming note, it’s been hard to write posts about my time in McMurdo this year because I think I’ve covered everything I’m doing in past posts. We pulled food, packed cargo, recreated some, and ate a lot. I guess I may be a bit jaded at this point, so you should head over to Carolyn’s blog at to check out her take on McMurdo going-ons. She’s a UCSC graduate student down here with the team and it’s her first time in Antarctica. Read up on what she has to say!



  1. I’d love to go down there one day, but I don’t have any relevant skills and I don’t want to be that dumbass tourist getting in the way of science being done.

  2. […] thinking for quite awhile about the future of this blog. I obtusely referenced this struggle in a previous post from McMurdo and I think I’m finally ready to come to terms with it. A field blog only works […]

  3. […] last year, we had a fairly large drill camp (one day I’ll tell you all more about this; yes, I keep making this promise). When you are part of a big camp with significant support, you have a few extra amenities that […]

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