Season 4: The Beginning of the End
Nov. 8, 2014
After a few months of hectic and rushed fieldwork in different states, time zones, and continents, I’m getting ready for my fourth and possibly final season in Antarctica. It’s a strange feeling because I love working on this continent, but I have to remind myself that my work here is towards a degree (my PhD in environmental engineering), and I would like to graduate at some point soon, which unfortunately means I’ll have to face the reality of the adult world and ‘real’ jobs that don’t involve wearing a snowsuit and ski goggles to work. (But hey, if anyone out there is hiring a Transantarctic toxicologist, keep me in mind! 😉
This upcoming season, from mid-November to mid-February, will be unique in a few ways- I’m going to be working in the McMurdo Dry Valleys again like last year (Season 3) although at a different fieldcamp in the mountains, closer to the glaciers where I do my research. This is different because my first three seasons, on a Swedish Icebreaker, a French/ Italian Station on the High Plateau, and last year in the Dry Valleys were all so different from each other that I never had any idea what to pack. This year since I’ll be in the same general region as my beloved tent at F6 during 2013-14, it means that at least I have a good idea of what to bring without packing too much, and what sort of weather/ temperature conditions I can expect on the Ice. I’ll be living out of a tent again and working at a fieldcamp that has between one and four other people there, but my research examining global pollution deposition onto glaciers will be by myself. There is a policy in Antarctica that field scientists can’t live *completely* on their own; anyone who gets dropped off by a helicopter needs to be in a pair of at least two people for safety purposes, so since my work is by myself I’m living at a fieldcamp called Lake Hoare (named after Antarctic physicist Ray Hoare) with people conducting other research simply so that we’re (all 2-4 of us) together for meals, etc. It makes logistics like cooking, collecting glacial ice chunks to melt for drinking water, and charging our emergency radios with the solar panels we have all easier tasks when they’re split between a few people. I’ll find out more about the specific conditions of my life in the field once I arrive there next week, but in the mean time I wanted to update on the fact that I’m about to embark again on another season, hopefully with a lot of pictures and descriptions along the way, and I’m excited and a little bit nostalgic to be returning to Antarctica once again!
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