I never would have expected that simply sitting by plants in somewhat humid air would be much of a special experience—it was great to hear about. How does it feel, after having spent so much time in an arid, white, and cold environment?
Also, what else can you tell us about Jamesways? The mere thought of a tent at the South Pole gives me nightmares.
Gary, A Jamesway is something between "better than a tent" and "definitely not a building". They are tall enough to stand up in and a have a floor, but they have canvas roof and sides and are cold, noisy and drafty. We were originally prepared to be in actual tents (Arctic Oven), then the rumor changed to Jamesways and here I am in a mostly warm building!
I didn't realize how much I missed plants and humidity until I went into the greenhouse. Now I'm drawn to the greenhouse!
Mike, It's great to read your blog, it's fascinating! Reading your account make me feel like you are on another planet!
Few more questions:
- What are the average temperature in the living quarters of McMurdo and South Pole stations? And is the temperature lowered during the night, or when most people sleep?
- Do all people sleep at the same time or are there people on watch for sudden severe weather change or other possible hazard?
- Where does the electric power come from at most antarctic stations? Diesel generators? Seems like wind power could be great but hard to maintain, what about solar or other renewable sources?
The living quarters are generally warm, but it varies by location. Since many people are dressed for extreme cold weather it is hard to tell how warm or cold it was in the buildings. I think the temperature remains constant throughout the day and night. The Antarctic stations run on 24-hour schedules, so there are people up and working 24 hours per day. There are weather forecasters on duty 24 hours per day also. Interestingly, they use our Automatic Weather Stations to gather their data.
South Pole is completely on generators, although it isn't diesel, it is jet fuel. The reason for that is that diesel gels at a higher temperature than the jet fuel (JP-8). There are three wind turbines between McMurdo and the New Zealand Scott base. I was told that seven more turbines would be required to provide all of the power needs for both stations. One problem with the wind turbines is that there is often too much wind. Solar works during the Austral summer, but obviously not during the winter in six months of darkness. The international treaty prohibits much of the new battery technology that would be needed to store any of the renewable sources. So, unfortunately, JP-8 (jet fuel) contains the most reliable and efficient (per unit volume) means of producing power at this time.
Chloe, There is a greenhouse at the South Pole Station for several reasons! The main reason is to provide a little bit of fresh food for special meals. The greens that you saw in my journal was for the Christmas meal. That is especially important since fresh food so rarely gets to the south pole. Another is that it is a nice place to visit for people who live there. It is a nice warm, humid and green place for people to visit in a cold and desolate place! It had nothing to do with the Flat White. I just thought the contrast between the warm green of the greenhouse and the cold white of the weather made a nice journal. I can see how that would be confusing!