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  Wedensday/Thursday, January 11 & 12, 2006

The team still at WAIS completed the 2 km X 2 km grid with the depth sounder radar on the 9th. A fuse blew on one of the antenna toward the end of the run, but were able to complete the run using 7 elements. They then came back, replaced the fuse and worked on the cross lines of the grid. They reported rather surprising variability in signal shape and strength even over such a small grid. The snow was blowing heavily by the time they returned, so they planned another run on the 10th. On the 10th, they took some sample delay line measurements with the SAR system and also did a run with the plane wave radar. They then disconnected the sleds so they could be packed, but did one last run with the accumulation radar. The whole group was up late packing.

On the 11th, Abdul caught a flight out (his flight on the day before was cancelled) along with 8 of the packed boxes of equipment. There was quite a heavy snowfall just an hour before the flight landed. The flight crew were not sure if the plane would be able to take off. After a couple of attempts they realized that they needed more weight in the tail and loaded one more pallet. They successfully took off with the additional weight. Abdul arrived in McMurdo with the cargo late last night. Today, they are planning to take down the Iridium system and pack it. Then we hope that after that, everyone will be able to return to McMurdo.

Jerome tried to arrange a visit to Wellington, New Zealand, to visit a professor on the way back, but the logistics of doing so became impossible, with all the schedules he needed to meet, so he decided to go straight home. His flight to Christchurch was scheduled to leave today, but was cancelled for 24 hours due to mechanical problems.

Jennifer answered lots of questions from students on the 11th and 12th. She also took a journey out to Hut Point and to Scott Base to see if she could find any wildlife. There were some seals both places. They were pretty far out on the ice, so it wasn't easy to tell the species, but with a zoom lens you could see that one looked like a mother with a baby. There are still no penguins to be seen. Sorry, kids! In the afternoon, she got special permission to tour the inside of the Discovery Hut and to take pictures. You can see some of these photos in the gallery as well as here in the journal.

The icebreaker has gone back out to widen the channel. It was quite startling to walk out and see that it was gone and nowhere in sight. It must have left soon after I took the photos on the 10th.

There was also a very interesting science lecture last night by Penny Miller of the Rose Hulman Institute of Technology. Her talk was entitled "Better Living Through Environmental Chemistry In Antarctica." She is a chemist who is interested in the role of Humic Dissolved Organic Materials (HDOMs) in water systems all over the world. She says that HDOMs which are the degradation products of terrestrial plants and microbial biomes are in all water systems. Apparently the amount and type of HDOM contributed to a lake or stream varies along a continuum, with some water systems having mostly HDOMs from plant material (like the Suwannee River in the United States) and those with HDOMs of primarily microbial origin (such as Lake Fritzel and Pony Lake in Antarctica). She is working to refine ways to quickly tell where on the continuum a water system's HDOMs lie. They are doing their study at Pony Lake, and each day transfer huge barrels of water from the lake to analyze. These barrels are put into nets which are carried slung under a helicopter each day to McMurdo for analysis. She went into detail of how the analyses were done and why the Antarctic lakes had such a unique chemistry. She says that her work (and that of her students and colleagues) will help water system engineers back home do a better job providing clean water for human use. Apparently if water that has a lot of HDOMs that come primarily from plant material is chlorinated to kill pathogens, the chlorine can combine with the HDOMs to create some rather toxic material. This is not true if the HDOMs come primarily from microbial sources. So she is quite excited that her work will make it easier to see where the HDOMs from any water source fall on the continuum. It was a very interesting and informative talk. The stuffed bears were also sent out on a mission on the sea ice with Amy Shields. Amy is a doctoral student at the College of William and Mary (Virginia) who works in the Marine Biology area. An Overland Park, Kansas, native, Amy is going to show Jennifer around her lab and discuss her work on Friday. This should be quite interesting.

NOTE: This was the entire journal entry, not just page 1.

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