Friday, September 21, 2007

Anticipating Departure

Antarctica bound. What an incredible experience awaits me. Ten days from now I will be on a plane en route to Christ Church New Zealand where, after a few day Educational Outreach visit, we will deploy for “the ice.” The hurdles between now and October 1 seem insurmountable, but somehow they will get done. Glacier goggles to protect my eyes, long underwear that will actually FIT my 5’0” tall frame, memory and peripherals for my cameras and computer… These are some of the essential details that will need to be tackled.

It will be hard leaving my 4th grade classroom at Bach Elementary School for more than two months as I head south. But today my long-term substitute started taking over the class and I know that I am leaving my students in very capable hands. They will follow my journey and chart my progress and discoveries. They, and the more than 60 classrooms and community groups I am visiting with before my departure, will hopefully travel right along with me and experience, virtually and vicariously, the sensations and learnings, the struggles and triumphs, and the sights of this magnificent land. I invite all of my blog-followers to tag along and join my journey!

The ANDRILL Program, which stands for Antarctic Geologic Drilling, is an international collaboration to learn about Antarctica’s response to changes in the Global System for the past 40 million years. This year, ANDRILL will be drilling in the Southern McMurdo Sound area, through sea ice and the Ross Sea, to collect cores of rock which will reveal information about how Antarctica’s Ice has responded to global climate changes during this time period.

What is my role? I will be involved in two aspects of the program. Part of the time I will be in the large U.S. Research Base of McMurdo Station. When the ANDRILL drillers have brought core up out of the ground, it is transported back to McMurdo Station. I will be involved with documenting the core and doing initial tests, curating, and descriptions, The other project I will be involved in is to do a seismic survey of an area below the frozen Ross Sea with a field party of 12 people. In that project I will be helping to deploy the equipment and collect data about the subsurface rocks. The present plan is to be 5 – 6 weeks out on “the ice.” It is hard to imagine being in a tent on floating ice for that long – especially knowing that it is thinning by the day, since it is now the Antarctic Spring.

There will be times when my blogging is very sparse. Sometime in mid-October I will be leaving for a remote field camp, and we will not likely have any access to internet. Therefore, my only blog postings will the those that I will be able to dictate, by satellite phone, to my colleagues in McMurdo,, or those that I will be able to send to McMurdo via an occasional helicopter that visits our camp. Please be patient. I promise to fill you all in as soon as I have internet again. Please read the blogs of my cohorts on the ARISE team (ARISE standing for ANDRILL Research Immersion for Science Educators.)

I will be back in touch with you before departure!