Alan Robock in Antarctica 

I left home on August 16, 2004, and flew from Newark to Los Angeles, to Auckland, New Zealand, and to Christchurch, New Zealand, arriving on August 18.  On August 19, I got my cold weather gear at the US Antarctic Program Center, and then we left at 6 am the next morning (having to get up at 2 am) to fly on an Air National Guard C-17 cargo jet (with airline seat pallets for us) to McMurdo, Antarctica.  We landed on the Pegasus runway on the Ross Ice Shelf, and had to ride in a freezing Delta (a box towed by a tractor) on hour to McMurdo Station.  We have offices and a lab in the Crary Science Center, which is the most expensive building on the planet per unit area, including the costs of moving all the materials down here.  It is a very nice facility.  We launch ozonesondes and aerosol and condensation nuclei counters from a place below the lab next to the shore.

We came down here on WINFLY, a series of four C17 flights, Aug. 20, 22, 24, and 26, three of which are passengers and cargo and one just cargo.  There were about 120 winter-over people when we came, and some will leave on the WINFLY return flights.  There will be about 400 people here during the WINFLY period, but only about 15 scientists.  There will be no more flights until Oct. 5, when Mainbody starts, increasing the population here to about 1200 during the peak of the summer.  I plan to leave on the first Mainbody flight on Oct. 5 back to Christchurch and then home on Oct. 6.  [I did arrive home on Oct. 6, although my plane dug holes in the Ice Runway while landing, and stopped further flights for almost a week.  Our C-17 was the first flight in six weeks.]

Here are some pictures to let you see what the experience is like.  Click on the small pictures to see larger ones.  The originals are 4 times as large.  If anyone wants higher resolution pictures, please let me know.  Click here for a list of the photos that have been published.

Alan Robock,

"We sit here stranded, though we're all doin' our best to deny it....
Now, little boy lost, he takes himself so seriously.
He brags of his misery, he likes to live dangerously."  (Visions of Johanna, Bob Dylan, 1966)

"We came to the pyramids all embedded in ice....
The wind it was howlin' and the snow was outrageous."  (Isis, Bob Dylan, 1976)

Last revised, Oct. 27, 2004

  The research in Antarctica is supported by the United States Antarctic Program of the National Science Foundation

Table of Contents

Christchurch, New Zealand
On the C-17, en route to Antarctica
Landing - my first views of Antarctica
On the Delta on the way to McMurdo Station
The views
Mt. Erebus, and Radarsat Hill views of McMurdo
Visit to Scott's Discovery Hut
Sea ice school and a trip along the coast of Ross Island
Tropospheric ozone observations
Where we are 
The weather

Where we work - the Crary Lab, Cosray
Global warming and volcano lectures
Balloon launches
Graphs of ozone and temperature profiles from our flights
A radiosonde launch 
Diving under the ice for starfish
More strange creatures from under the ice
Polar stratospheric clouds (PSCs)
Our dorm 
The bars (there are two that are no smoking and one that allows smoking)
Carp Shop party, featuring Sean's band
The food
Building 155, including store, which has a much larger selection of goods than I had imagined
Visit to Scott Base, August 24, 2004.  The Kiwis invited us to dinner.

C-17 flight from McMurdo to Christchurch, including views of Victoria Land
Other Antarctica Web Sites

Christchurch, New Zealand

   The University of Canterbury, along a river downtown.

   Downtown Christchurch

  Christchurch Cathedral

  Christchurch Art Gallery

  Cold weather gear display at the Clothing Distribution Center

  Me with Bill Clinton at the Clothing Distribution Center.  Apparently, this is as far as he got, as his security staff did not want him to fly to Antarctica.

  In line to get on the plane at 4 am.


On the C-17, en route to Antarctica

  Inside the plane, as we are leaving.  They installed airline seat pallets for most of us.  The cargo is in the back.  There was one toilet for everyone.  It got very hot, as apparently they did not want to waste energy cooling the adiabatically compressed air inside.

  Francesco Cairo and Roberto Morbidini, the two lidar specialists on our team.  They run a NdYAG lidar here to look at polar stratospheric clouds, and we coordinate the balloon launches with their measurements.  Francesco will only stay for a week and return on the last WINFLY flight, but Roberto will remain to run the lidar.  They fixed a number of things and got the lidar running to take measurements very quickly after they got here.

  Me and Lou King, on the flight.  Notice Lou's earplugs - it is noisy inside.

  Sea ice below us on our flight. It was remarkably clear on the flight. First I saw open water and then sea ice with cracks.


Landing - my first views of Antarctica

  We had to go out the back, as they kept the engines running.  They opened the tail ramp and took the cargo out first, so the cold air gradually seeped in.  The pilot reported the surface air temperature as -45°F (-42°C).

  Only one cargo pallet left, and then we can get off.

  Finally we are starting to get off.  The reflective patches on the backs of our parkas really mess up flash photos.

  Down the ramp into the cold and fog.

  Some friends were waiting for returnees.

  Some of the vehicles on the ice.

  To the right is the Terrabus, but it was full, so we had to get onto a Delta, which you can see over the heads of people on the left.  We sat in the red box, which was pulled by the tractor.  The diesel heater did not work but emitted noxious fumes, and we were very cold.

  My last view of the plane.


On the Delta on the way to McMurdo Station

  Lou in the Delta, second from right.  The clouds are fog from our breath.

  Alan in the Delta.  I am grimacing because of the cold.



  A Delta, in which we road in from Pegasus when we arrived.

  Ivan, the Terrabus - the vehicle we should have ridden in.

  A Pisten Bully

  Our van, which I drive

  A Mattrack

  The front "wheel" on a Mattrack

  And the rear.

  A Hägglunds, made in Sweden.  The trailer in the back is very bumpy and loud - not a pleasant ride.

  A D8 Caterpillar

  Another kind of Caterpillar, with snow chains

  Yet another Cat

  A McMurdo firetruck

  A Nodwell fire engine.

  A Foremost fire engine, used at the air fields.