Travel Log: December 21st, 1997

Picture of the Day
The Transantarctic Mountains

DECEMBER 21st, 1997

Randy reports: "I had a great flight into McMurdo today. A DV (distinguished visitor) from the American embassy in New Zealand was on our flight. She and another embassy staffer flew down to the Pole, took pictures for an hour and left! There were only 6 other passengers on the flight and they flew low so the the DV's could look at the transantartic mountains.

See also Travel Tales below!

Date: 21 Dec 97
Location: McMurdo Station
Weather: no report
Temperature: no report
Wind Chill: no report
Wind Speed: no report
Barometric Pressure: no report

Go on to the
next day...

Dec 21th Travel Tales

Janice VanCleave: Sue Dunham, teacher in Marlin, Texas asked, "If you melted the ice/snow lying around, would it be safe to drink? Would it taste good?"

The answer is yes and no. Yes, some of the snow that is melted is safe to drink and tastes good. At the South Pole, the drinking water is obtained from melting very clean ice in what is called a Rodriquez Well. This well is produced by running hot water onto the ice causing it to melt. Over a period of time, a large bulb-like hole forms with pure melted ice pumped out of the hole and into the buildings. The picture, left, shows snow being melted for water at a snow heating unit.

At McMurdo, drinking water is obtained by desalination, which means fresh water is separated from the salty ocean water pumped from McMurdo Sound. At the South Pole and at McMurdo, snow is also melted in large heating units as shown in the photo. This melted snow is not as pure and is recommended for use in toilets and for showering and washing clothes. I often collect water from sinks and drink it. So, I can say that while the snow melted in the heating units is not recommended for drinking, I for got and collected a bottle of it and drank it during the night. It occurred to me the next morning that maybe I should not be drinking the water from the sink and had a panic attack. I called the main building and was able to contact a lady in the kitchen. She assured me that I was not going to be sick, and while workers at times did drink the water, she suggested that I collect my water in the main building. I dumped my water and made the long walk to the building to collect my needed water supply. The air is so dry at the Pole that it is necessary to drink lots of water. I am glad to say that I had no ill effects from drinking the semi- clean snow water. There was no difference in the taste of the semiclean snow water from the clean water.