Friday, April 18, 2014

Heading Home

The shuttle to the airport from Bloomington to Indianapolis was so full that they were turning people away. And no, that isn't a photo of the shuttle. I think that I was the only non-student in the entire mini-bus. (And, I believe, the only one who tipped the driver for the 1½ hour trip) It took me a while to make the connection that some students were going home to celebrate Easter with their families. The PTC ended yesterday afternoon and I went to a Thai place with some other attendees from the conference.

It was great to hear about all of the power and communication advances that were being made to support science in Antarctica but almost disturbing to hear about how much was being spent on infrastructure and logistics compared to science. The photo was taken by the NSF liason officer, Lt. Doll, and it shows just one example of why Antarctic and Greenland research is so expensive. A lot of effort is being made with improved communication and power systems but having facilities to allow people is just expensive. A British engineer was talking about some new facilities and commented that the existing facility was ~25 m under the snow. This is just from accumulation. The psychological toll on individuals staying there was, as he put it, "very significant". The new lab is designed to jack itself up back to the top of the snow so that the inhabitants could see out of the windows even if all they could see is snow.

BTW, the Thai food was also very average and somewhat bland even though I asked for hot "4" on a scale of one to five. Maybe no one likes "spicy" in Bloomington.

One last photo of the IU campus. This is an HDR photo and all the way on the right, you can just see a tree starting to "green". On the way to the airport, you could just see a hint of leaves on some of the trees.
Happy Easter!


redlegsrides said...

Living under 25 meters of accumulated I think I'll not respond to the recruiter who's seeking network guys for Antartica....

RichardM said...

The 25m under the snow was the British facility. I remember hearing that the U.S. facilities were designed to "float" in the ice just below the snow. I don't know how successful that design is.

Martha said...

Thanks for sharing your trip. Thanks for sharing all your trips! Really pretty last photo.

Happy Easter to you, too!

RichardM said...

Glad you enjoy reading the posts.

No comment on living under 25m of snow? BTW, the temperature at the South Pole Station today is -65°F with a windchill of -103°F.

Trobairitz said...

We always tip shuttle and/or taxi drivers, and housekeeps in the hotels, etc. Just a little extra something for them.

I am surprised no college students did it. Maybe they've never seen their parents do it.

Welcome home. I bet your wife was happy to see you.

Unknown said...


Nice to be home ! I suppose between Fairbanks and the Antarctic, you picked the warmer place.

with -25M of snow, would it be dark down there, or would you still see lots of light from above ?

wouldn't there be some insulating effect from the cold or would it still be -65°F , hard to fathom people working in such an environment with not much to do inside and not be able to go out for a walk.

A weekend photographer or Riding the Wet Coast

RichardM said...

Maybe there was a "no tipping" policy that I wasn't aware of. But most just stared at their phones for most of the trip and some mumbled some sort of thanks when the driver fished out their luggage. Maybe they've never had to work in a job where tips were an assumed part if their income.

RichardM said...

I guess there may be some light and it would be warmer than the surface but 25 m is a long way down. Especially for those that "winter over" at the station.

The British stations are near the coast and have more moderate temperatures than the South Pole station. On the same day that the -65°F was reported, the coastal stations were at +2°F. This would be near the all time high for the South Pole.