Travel Log: December 16th, 1997

Picture of the Day
Janice VanCleave at the
Ceremonial South Pole.

DECEMBER 16th, 1997

Randy reports that the South Pole is COLD. It's -49°C with the wind chill factor. Without the wind it's a balmy -29°C. There's not much air at 9310 ft elevation, but Randy says he's getting used to it and that the light-headedness that bothered him yesterday is diminishing.

See also Travel Tales below!

Date: 16 Dec 97
Location: The South Pole
Weather: sunny, dry, and cold
Temperature: -29oC
Barometric Pressure: 21 inches Hg
GPS latitude: near S 90:00:00
GPS longitude: no report
GPS elevation: 9310 ft

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Dec 16th Travel Tales

Janice VanCleave: The temperature today is minus 29.6 ° Celsius (minus 21.3 ° Fahrenheit). The atmospheric pressure is 21.05 inches Hg. The wind is about 10.5 miles per hour. Men with beards are seen with frost in the beard. This is because the moisture in their breath freezes in their beards. I did experiment to see if cold water thrown into the air would freeze before hitting the ground and at this temperature it did not. To examine the water on the ground, I threw it toward a board. Upon examining the water on the board, I found that it was in the liquid state for a few minutes. I even tried spitting into the air and found that the spit was still liquid when it landed, but froze quickly. It seems that the water will quickly freeze if the surface area is small enough, such as the moisture vapor in ones breath. But another factor might be temperature. One's breath is warm. I'll experiment with hot and cold water today.

Sleeping accomodations leave something to be desired. The building that I am staying in has 9 very small cubicles that contain a twin size bed, metal closet, very small wooden desk and chair and about 36 x 48 inches of floor space. The window is covered with a dark curtain to keep out the light and the door is a sliding door the width of the room. there is a long neck lamp for a light. Bathroom facilities are in a separate building about 1 block away from the dorm. Since it would be difficult to wake and put on all the polar gear to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, people use chamber pots in their room and empty them in the bathroom the next day. Chamber pots consist of everything from small pots with lids to large metal cans. The building housing bathroom facilities has two separates rooms, Men and Women. I assume they are relatively the same inside. In the women's room are 2 toilets, 2 sinks and 1 shower. Cubby holes line one wall and people store their soap, shampoo and other personal grooming items. A notice on the wall instructs us to take two 2 minute showers each week. We were shown a film about showering. First the water is turned on for 1 minute to wet your body. Then you soap up and apply shampoo to your hair. then the water is turned on for another 1 minute to wash the soap off. We had to bring our own towels and wash cloth as well as soap and shampoo. There are also 2 washing machines and 2 clothes dryers. Each person can wash one load of clothes once a week, only once a week by each person.

Food is wonderful. The cooks are very skilled and the choices are gourmet. Quantity is no problem. There are 195 people at pole, which is the maximum number that they have beds for. All the dishes for these people have to washed after the 3 meals. Volunteers are asked to help. Randy and I volunteered after breakfast. He washed dishes and I washed the pots and pans. After 1 hour and 15 minutes, we certainly could see that it was an endless job. People kept coming in for snacks and the cooks kept cooking and messing up pots and pans. We finally hung up our aprons and went on a tour of the facility here.

Question: Can you blow soap bubbles at the south pole? (From Laura Robert's kindergarden class in Louisville.)

Answer: Answer: At minus 29.6 ° Celsius (21.3 ° Fahrenheit) the bubbles formed as they do at warm temperatures. The color of the bubbles seems to also be the same as in warm temperatures. The differences that I observed were: