Photo by a Kenn Borek Air Ltd. pilot.

Above is a picture of a good day in some parts of Antarctica. I didn't take this picture, but I got plenty of opportunities to take several of them like it while I was in Antarctica for three months participating in an experiment way, way down under.

Antarctica is a big place. It contains 70% of the world's fresh water, 90% of the world's ice, and is about 1-1/2 times the size of the 48 contiguous United States. It is the windiest, coldest, driest place on Earth. Antarctica is so large, and so white, that it can affect the Earth's climate because of the amount of sunlight, and heat, that it reflects back into space. This is one of the reasons why so much climate research goes on there.

The "X - OND" on the map above marks the spot where 10-12 of us vacationed...err, camped...err, froze our asses off. The experiment was titled ONSET-D, and it was put together to examine the area where one of the six major rivers of ice that flow from the Western Area Ice Sheet into the Ross Sea began. In this case the stream of interest was Ice Stream D. The area to the left of McMurdo Station is the Ross Sea. Included in the tour package was a snowmobile expedition of about 2500 kilometers, up to 225 kilometers from the Onset-D camp, to examine areas of Ice Stream C, which was to the north...or...south...or...whatever direction it was, from Ice Stream D.


All civilian services in places like McMurdo and deep field camps like Onset-D (basically everything but the aircraft) was operated by Raytheon Polar Services Corporation (RPSC) under contract to the U.S. Government's U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP), which is a part of the National Science Foundation (NSF). NSF oversees just about all of the U.S. activities since just about everything going on in Antarctica is linked to some sort of scientific research...with the exception of the diamond mines and oil fields.