5 Jan 2007

Up, up and away - my last day at Casey

Twice a day, every day of the year, weather balloons are released simultaneously from
almost 900 locations worldwide — including Antarctica. This year, Justin Wood from the Bureau of Meteorology will be releasing the weather balloons at Casey Station. These are no ordinary balloons. They are huge (they weigh 50 times more than a party balloon), travel to heights of up to 25 km above ground, and are filled with highly explosive hydrogen gas! So, to help Justin launch one, I wore a coat made from flameretardant cotton, boots designed to stop static electricity from building up in the dry air, cotton gloves, and goggles to protect my eyes.

After the changeover ceremony we departed the station by barge for the trip to the ship, where the galley staff provided a late dinner. I was most grateful. For two weeks I had experienced quite mild weather by Antarctic standards. As if to prove a point, yesterday afternoon the wind rose, and underdressed, I became quite cold. In fact, I was so cold that I had to wear my down jacket for the next 2 hours inside the ship where it is a comfortable 19 degrees. I had felt what it is like to drop your core temperature by degree or so, on the coldest continent on Earth, and I had learnt a lesson. Always be prepared in Antarctica, even if you are just waiting for a barge for an hour.


Nicole said...

your photos are really quite beautiful. they make me want to be somewhere stark and white. somehow the half-inch of snow outside my window doesn't have the same effect. :-) hope the rest of your travels go well!

westius said...

Just discovered your blog - what a fantastic trip and such beautiful photos! Hope it all goes well - when are you coming back?