January 3, 2012 Heading Home?
I just dropped off my bags for the flight tonight. Initially I thought I would leave on time, around 2 or 3 a.m. tomorrow morning. Of course, this could all change if weather gets bad. It started snowing tonight and the plane is now delayed. Hopefully it will get here tomorrow morning, allowing me to still make it back to Texas by January 5th.
Returning to McMurdo
This morning I left the South Pole and flew back to McMurdo Station. The flight was a little over 2 hours long, and soon enough I was back at a lower altitude. It is strange to return here. The brown volcanic mountains are a drastic change from the flat expanse of white I had seen at the Pole and AGO site. It is also a lot warmer here. I walk around with just jeans and my down jacket on, unlike the Pole or AGO site, where I was loaded up with Carhart overalls and a big red down coat. The temperature today was 30 degrees Fahrenheit, with a wind chill of 23 degrees! Although this may seem cold to someone from Texas, after being in -40 degree wind chill temperatures, it feels very warm!
Comparing McMurdo to Pole
McMurdo Station and the South Pole Station have some similarities but also some pretty big differences.
- At sea level
- Average temperature in January: 27 degrees Fahrenheit
- Maximum population reaches about 1200 in the summer
- Higher atmospheric pressure
South Pole Station
- At 9000 feet elevation
- Average temperature in January: -19 degrees Fahrenheit
- Maximum population reaches about 250 in the summer
- Lower atmospheric pressure
Looking ahead, looking back
I am filled with mixed feelings about returning home. I am so excited to return to my fiance and friends, and can't wait to return to the classroom. However, it is difficult to leave this amazing continent. I have also made good friends here and have had incredible experiences. Although I am leaving, I hope one day to return to McMurdo Station and the AGO field sites and camp out on the ice. Below is a video recapping my experiences here.
Look at the two barometers below. Which one do you think was taken at McMurdo Station, and which one was taken at the South Pole? How can you tell?
Look at the pictures of McMurdo and the South Pole. How are they similar? How are they different? Which one would you prefer to stay at? Why?