Thursday, December 11, 2008

An unusual commute to work

I’ve been trying to get this shot since we got here. I have not done a good job at conveying where it is that we are working. The McMurdo base is on solid ground on Ross Island. Ross Island was selected because it is not completely covered with ice year-round like so much of Antarctica. The place where we work is actually out on the ice in the Ross Sea. This photo properly conveys where we go to work each day.
We take the road down to the ice and drive about six miles out to Williams Field. On the way off the island, we pass by New Zealand’s Scott base. Those are the green buildings you see in the foreground of the photo.

A few hundred yards off shore are a set of very impressive pressure ridges. This ice is perhaps 300 feet thick. As it flows toward the island, it heaves up into ridges. Some of the pieces that get lifted up are as big as a house.

The guys who have been coming out here for years say that the base was a lot farther out on the ice when they first started coming here. The people who monitor such things have determined that Williams Field is moving toward Ross Island about 300 feet each year. I guess that is a good reason why all of our buildings are set up as giant sleds and can be moved around from year to year.

When we were out taking these photos, we saw this person moving along the ice road on a pair of skis being pulled along by a kite. You can click on any of these photos for a full size version.

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