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Monday, March 7, 2011

My winter room

Now that the station population has gone down to 49 people, we have been able to enjoy some more elbow room.  At the beginning of February I moved into a new, larger room.  Not only is the room larger, but I have an unobstructed view over the plateau from the window. 
It is now March 8, less than two weeks away from the only sunset that we will get to see this year.  The shadows are getting longer and longer, as seen in these photos.  The weather has been very stable for the last couple of weeks, meaning blue skies with very little wind.  The temperature has been dropping steadily a few degrees every day.  Today we have reached -57 C (-71 F), but when there is no wind it is still very nice out.  In fact, last week I logged the most distance ever covered since I got here at the Pole: 63 miles equally split between running and skiing.  I am trying to get the most out of these last few days of summer before the next storm will likely cover the skiway with snowdrift and put an end to my running.  This morning, after I finished my usual 5-mile run on the skiway, I felt so nice and warm under my layers of fleece, my two hats, and my three pairs of gloves, that I kept going 3 more miles.  On Saturday I did my last field work for the season, so, unless some of the instruments break, I should not have to work outside until at least the next sunrise.

My new room, circled in red, is situated in the outermost wing of the station.  At the far right, denoted by flags, is the ceremonial south Pole.  At the right, but still attached to the building is what we call the beer can: a metal structure connecting the elevated station to the service and utilities tunnels under the ice.

A look inside my room shows an architecture very similar to my summer room, but the additional 10 square feet of space make room for a 6-ft desk.

The view from my window is spectacular.  Nothing but ice for 1,400 miles in this direction, until we get to the ocean, except for the Russian station of Vostok half way in between.  At the far left and in the background are the Atmospheric Research Observatory, then the Cosmic Ray Detector platform.  Closer up are vent pipes from the utilities tunnels under the ice.

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