Questions from Molly

December 1st, 2007 andrea


My colleague Steve Gorelick sent me an email. His daughter Molly had some questions for me. Molly, thanks for the questions, I will try to answer them as best I can here:

Molly: What did you eat for dinner? Fish?

Andrea: Yesterday I had fresh fruit and vegetables and a wonderful tempeh noodle dish. We eat in a big dining hall and can choose from a variety of dishes that a group of chefs create. All the ingredients are delivered via plane (in fact, I think we flew in on the same plane with the fresh fruit and veggies I had for dinner).

I heard that sometimes when the weather is bad, especially in winter (it’s summer here now, the opposite of the Northern hemisphere), the planes can’t fly in. Then, the residents of McMurdo hope for the weather to clear soon to get fresh fruit and vegetables.

There are a lot of fish living under the ice, and Weddell seals and penguins, and Antarctic explorers would eat these animals in the past, but because the ecosystem is so fragile, the wildlife is protected and can’t be killed for food. But, there are a lot of scientists studying the wildlife around McMurdo, and soon I will post pictures of some of the animals they are studying in the labs here. The photo here is from a historical hut at Scott Base, to give you an idea of what people ate when the base first opened almost 50 years ago.

Molly: What are you doing now?

Andrea: I am in the Crary lab working on my computer, I spent the afternoon touring the labs and meeting and talking with scientists and tonight I will hear a presentation from the Andrill group, a team of over 75 geologists drilling a core out of the earth here in order to study past climates.

Molly: What time is it?

Andrea: It’s 18 hours later here than in New York, because the flights originate from Christchurch, New Zealand, McMurdo operates on New Zealand time. Since all the lines of latitude meet here, I had heard that the entire continent operates at the same time, but this is not true, most bases operate in the time zone of where most people and supplies fly in from.

Time is a little strange here in the summer, though, because the sun is out all day and night. It was hard to get to sleep last night with sunlight streaming through the window. In the winter it is dark all day and night.

Molly: Are you out there with any penguins?

Andrea: There are two types of penguins that live near McMurdo, Adelie and Emperor penguins. I haven’t seen any yet, but I have talked to people here who have. I have seen a bird that is common here called a Skua, a kind of brown seagull. The Skuas know that people in McMurdo often have food and can sometimes be very aggressive if you happen to be carrying a sandwich!

Molly: How would we find you on the map? What are your coordinates?

Andrea: If you go to the google world map on this site (link under the Antarctic map), I have made a marker that indicates McMurdo’s latitutude and longitude. Unfortunately, google maps doesn’t have a lot of detail of this part of the world, I recommend looking at the link Sha Sha provided for more detailed images.

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Morning in McMurdo

December 1st, 2007 andrea

mcmurdo sound

Yesterday I met Tia and made a plan for recording interviews with people around the base talking about their Antarctic sonic experiences. As the main point of radio contact for people at the remote field sites, Tia said that the sound of her voice sometimes becomes an important lifeline. She told me a story of how one group that was particularly remote for many weeks was inspired to write poetry celebrating the radio voices and posted the poems all over their camp site.

This binaural recording I made walking around the base this morning may give you a sense of what it feels like to be here:

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December 1st, 2007 andrea


About 25 of us arrived yesterday on a C-17 cargo plane. Stepping off the plane onto the ice runway at Arrival Heights was an incredible experience. The scale of McMurdo sound continues to be overwhelming. Click the image for more images of the flight and in and around McMurdo.

Here is a binaural recording I made inside the aircraft (large file – may take a while to load):

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