Saturday, April 28, 2007

Getting Darker...

Next week the sun will disappear below the horizon and stay away until August. Here's a glimpse of the run up to the longest night of my life:

More Stunning Aurora. Longer darker nights and lots of clear skies lately, have meant perfect aurora observing conditions. Lat night's show featured hyperactive green snakes shaking their way across the sky, shooting out spikes of yellow light, and some spooky bits where the aurora was making the tops of clouds glow green on the horizon.

I had to ski out to one of the experiments a couple of kilometres from the base, for a bit of routine maintenance at -37C. It's a weird sensations feeling your eyelashes and nosehairs start to freeze. It's quite tricky working at these temperatures too. You can't take your gloves off for long, and touching anything metal is a bad idea. Every now and then I had to do a load of star jumps to regain the feeling in my fingers and toes. It stings like crazy when they start to warm up, but it's a good feeling really, it tells you they're not frostbitten!

Sometimes we have to practice rescue scenarios, as we're our own emergency services down here. Last week we had a go at rescueing poor simon here from the tunnels, where he'd fallen and broken his pelvis (noone seemed that concerned about the fact that he had also lost his head, hands and feet). I was a first aider and stretcher handler (in yellow below). It was a tricky business manouvering the stretcher through all the nooks and crannies of the tunnels buried under about 20m of snow, but we got him out in record time. Here's the triumphant rescue team, and Simon, looking a bit worse for wear:

MeltTank, everyone's favourite way to start the day. At 9am every morning, a team of 3 or 4, bursting with energy and enthusiasm (especially on a Sunday), head out to shovel snow for half an hour. It can be a bit of a mission, but it certainly wakes you up. Nowadays, it's dark in the morning (and most of the rest of the time), so it's floddlit shovelling. Below: me, going for it (trying to make up for those extra 30 seconds in the shower!).

Monday, April 16, 2007

Winter Team 2007


We hit minus 40 for the first time on Saturday afternoon. This morning it was up to minus 44, 69 degrees colder than London.

Inside, however, life goes on as normal, as you can see in the pictures below...

An underground ice cave, buried beneath several metres of snow since its creation in 2004, was undercovered on Friday night. Lo and behold, what did I find down there but a can of Newcastle's finest. Made me smile.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Techno Techno

DJ Tom's techno rave birthday party, complete with glow sticks and strobe lights.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Thanks to Tom for the photo, nice effort.
Last night, our wonderful chef Ant, got the Barbie blazing in temperatures of -30 and below! By the time you ate them, sausages were semi-frozen on the outside, but still hot in the middle. The beer turned slushy after about five minutes and you had to be careful your lips didn't stick to the can, as Deano discoverd, much to our amusement. An extreme BBQ even Brian would be proud of!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


Today we had some really cool meteorological phenomena, even the non weather people were getting excited. Diamond dust fell from the sky: little tiny ice crystals that sparkle in the sunlight. The ice crystals bent the sunlight so that we saw these amazing colourful 'sundogs' that look like bits of a rainbow, to the side of the sun. There was also a pillar from the sun to the ground, where the sun was being reflected from the flat surfaces of the crystals. At the same time, icy fog lurked in the distance, adding to the effect. Overall, it was pretty.

In the opposite direction, a nearly full moon shone just above a pinkish horizon. One more thing...I saw some amazing aurora the other night. It lit up a whole band across the sky, wiggling and flashing green, red and purple lights. I'll try and post some Aurora photos soon!