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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Antarctica - The Book

For those who have followed this blog,I have published a book on my experiences called would you believe, Antarctica - According to a Boilermaker Named Horse. The link will take you to an online bookstore. Hope you like it. Until my next trip, "live every day like it was your last,because one day it will be...!"

For images that are for sale in print,canvas, framed print and acrylic go to my online store

Returning Home

 Our return to Australia was aboard the Aurora Australis. The Aurora had to first pick up our work mates at Davis and then sail East to us at Casey. Like everything else in Antarctica weather and ice conditions played a big part in getting home. The Aurora became "bogged" in ice out from Davis for some 3 days. This led to the usual speculation about being trapped in Antarctica for the winter and running out of food. Luckily, the ship broke free and arrived at Casey to pick us up. We transfered to the ship via a squirrel helicopter. This was great as it gave us the opportunity to see Casey from the air. The whole transfer of personnel and cargo only took about seven hours. So we where underway by late afternoon. The first night wasn't too bad, but the next day was when we hit the open seas. The Southern Ocean is considered the nastiest piece of ocean around the globe with good reason. Apart from being cold, it's extremely rough with winds around 120kph and up to 18m swells. Luckily our swells were only upto 8m. Still this was enough to make a lot of people sick. Now the first lesson is even if you don't get sea sick, take sea sick tablets before you get sea sick. Bloody hell, this ship bobbed around the ocean like a cork. Once taking the tablet, I was fine. After that it was only a matter of getting my sea legs and the rest of the 7 day voyage was incident free. I must admit though  it  was pretty
boring. I read a few books and slept, and that's about all one can do aboard this ship apart from movies. Still, the food was outstanding as always. We arrived in Hobart the following Saturday morning to be greeted by family and friends. Actually it was quite amazing the number of people who came down to see us. So, that is as they say, that. I am now back in Queensland, Australia, sweating like a dog and enjoying green grass under my feet. Most of all, I'm home with family. Would I do it all again, Shit yeh...!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Atmospheric Halos in Antarctica - According to a Boilermaker

Atmospheric halos or arcs of light in the sky as pictured - are caused by the play of sunlight on ice crystals in the atmosphere. Now, where I come from in Queensland Australia, this is something that I have never seen before. We have rainbows, which as we know, is sunlight playing on water droplets. So one could say that the halos here are Antarcticas version of the rainbow. These halos of course are not just confined to the polar regions. Anywhere that the atmospheric temperatures are low and ice crystals form, there is a chance of a halo been seen. The most common halos are those formed by flat hexagonal crystals known as plate crystals.These crystals are only around 0.2mm across. The large arc is known as a circumzenith arc. This halo was taken at Australian Antarctic Station, Casey 31 March 2011.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Weather and Climate in Antarctica - According to a Boilermaker

 Antarctica experiences dramatic seasonal changes that result from the earth's 23.5 degree tilt. This means that for many weeks during midsummer it is light 24 hours a day. The reverse is experienced during winter when there is darkness for 24 hours in the day. See blog There Ain't No Polar Bears . Neither North or South poles receive much direct radiation from the sun, but the Antarctic is much colder than the Arctic for a variety of reasons. One is that there is eight times more ice in Antarctica than in the Arctic. The Arctic is primarily ocean, and water is  better than land in storing summer heat and moderating winter cold. A second reason is that with Antarctic's year round snow  cover,  nearly  80
percent of the incoming radiation is reflected back into the atmosphere. The sea by comparison, reflects only 5 percent, while exposed land returns 15 to 35 percent.

Temperatures decrease also due to altitude. Much of Antarctica has a very high altitude of some 2,286m. The lowest temperature recorded on earth was at the Russian Antarctic Station Vostok in July 1983. It recorded -89.2 C degrees. At this temperature steel shatters and water explodes into ice crystals.

Although Antarctica has more fresh water than any other continent, it receives the least amount of rainfall. Average rainfall is around 6cm. Antarctica is also the windest continent with wind blowing up to 320 kph throughout the year. The average daily wind speed at Casey Station where I am based this year has a mean daily wind speed of 37kph.

The air in Antarctica is very dry. The low temperatures result in very low humidity, which means that dry skin and cracked lips are a continual problem. Large quanities of water vapor are lost from the lungs as well, making it necessary to frequently drink water.

Take all this into account, it makes Antarctica a very inhospitable place for humans, but not a boilermaker....!