Antarctica is a very large continent, and I have seen only a small part. What I have seen is very beautiful. There are many very high mountains covered in snow and glaciers. The air is very clear, and so far it is common to have visibility over 50 miles. I am living in what appears to be a small town. It is cold here about 25 degrees today and very windy. So far this is probably the coldest day I have seen, but it will get much colder. I was not scared about the sun being up at midnight, but in about 6 months I will not see the sun all day. It will be dark outside at noon.
If you would like to come here, there are 2 ways. They do have tourist ship cruises that come here, but the price is about $7000 and up. That is way more expensive than most of us can afford, but it has to be comfortable than the sling seats in the Herc. They looked like cargo nets, nylon straps about 1 inch wide on 6 inch centers. The other way to come is to get a job here. There are about 1000 people here, and all sorts of people work here from firemen, pilots, cooks, scientists, and even garbage recyclers. Garbage is big business here, as all waste is shipped away to the USA, and most of it is recycled.
I like penguins, but I have not seen any yet. The McMurdo sound, which is like a bay, is frozen and will not be thawed for a month or so. Possibly then I will see some. I have already seen some seals very far away on the ice. There are some birds here that look like seagulls. The only other large animals are whales, which I also hope to see when the sound thaws. Under the water there are many fishes. I plan to go to the aquarium here to see what they have. The scientists catch some and put them in the tanks to study them. Cows would not be able to survive here without shipping in all their feed, and supplying them shelter. There are only 2 colors in the landscape here, black rock or white ice.
Thanks for writing,
Antarctica is a very large continent, and I have seen only a small part. What I have seen is very beautiful. There are many very high mountains covered in snow and glaciers. The air is very clear, and so far it is common to have visibility over 50 miles. I am living in what appears to be a small town. It is cold here about 25 degrees today and very windy. So far this is probably the coldest day I have seen, but it will get much colder.
I do not think it would be possible for you to come at your age, unless you came on one of the tourist ships and they are very expensive. This is a very dangerous place if you are not careful. When you get older, you could get a job here in almost any profession. Most people here this time of year are scientist doing research, but this place requires all jobs that you would have in any small town.
I have not seen any penguins yet, but I hope to see them in a few months. McMurdo is on the shore of McMurdo Sound. In a few months, the ice will start to break up, and they will bring ships in to bring supplies, and take out the trash and recycle items. When the ice breaks up, I hope to see some penguins and whales. I got some calendars today with pictures of penguins and whales taken very close to here. I will bring one in for Ms. Weeg when I get back so you can see the pictures.
I used to do a lot of down hill skiing when I was young, but I have not skied in many years. They will not allow us to down hill ski here, but a few miles away at the New Zealand Scott Base, they allow it. Here they only allow cross country skiing, which I have never tried. I might just get brave and rent some skis and try it. People have been skiing out on the ice in the sound to see a big iceberg and some seals along the pressure ridges.
I like the question about how cold it gets at night. With the sun shining 2 hours a day, it took me a few days to figure that one out. We have a few small puddles around from where the snow is melting. I noticed at times it was cooler, and the puddles would freeze over. Then I realized it did this at night, when the sun went lower in the sky. The lower angle of the sun does not give off as much warmth, and the temperature does drop, but it is only drops about 10 degrees.
Mount Erebus is an active volcano on the island where I am staying. It is many miles away, but I can see it from the station where I work. I took a picture today of the volcano, as the wind was just right that I could see a big plume of steam coming out the top. There are scientists here, that just happen to be in the next office, that constantly monitor the activity. I hope that being next door, I will be one of the first people to find out about any problems. I have heard the activity is very minimal, and it is only venting steam.
Thanks for writing,
Dave David Hess NK3T