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Friday, November 5, 2010

The Transantarctic Mountains

I have been at the South Pole station for three days.  I am very well situated, with a private room in the main station, with a window that looks out on the white expanse of ice all the way to the horizon as far as the eye can see.  The station is modern and spotless, an engineering marvel in a place where hunans were not meant to live.  I will have a lot to share through this blog about life in the station, the science, and what my role is here, but, before I do so, I wanted to share some of the photos that I took flying over the continent between McMurdo and the Pole.

For the first 45 minutes after leaving McMurdo, we flew over the Ross Ice Shelf, with the mountains at the edge of the continent visible in the distance.

Here we are at the end of the Ice Shelf, where the continent begins.  Note the glaciers flowing into the ice shelf at the far left.

The tops of some low elevation mountains peak through the thick ice.

About 1 hour into the flight we come into view of the Transantarctic mountains.  Note how the ice smooths the topogrphy and only the tops of the mountains emerge.

Glaciers flowing.

The ice is not exactly smooth, but shows a variety of different textures and undulations.

At last, about 2 hours into the flight, we leave the Transantarctic mountains as we fly over the 2-mile thick ice of the plateau.  The last three mountains seem to just make it through the top of the ice in this photo.  From now on the terrain will be flat all the way to the South Pole.

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