Ellsworth Blog number 4 -Tuesday 4th December.

A glorious day with no clouds and virtually no wind.The view across a new landscape of snow sastrugi formed during the two previous days of wind across to the surrounding mountains is quite something.Some of the snow features are nearly a metre high and in low sunlight they are a striking mix of whites and blues, rather like a choppy sea.This was the first day we could stand outside without anoraks and actually feel the heat of the sun. 

John, Stuart and Scott spent the day fixing the GPS network of glacier stakes.All this is done to within a few mm and they did 52 today.The wind of the previous days prevented this activity.Andy and I with either Scott or Malcolm were able to operate on the mountain front in the winds and we have now collected 59 cosmogenic samples from key sites. Mind you we had to hang on and never put anything down — glove, instrument, food, sample bag, glasses. The science programme is going well and turning up surprises already.We suspect this mountain landscape and deposits are much older than believed and some deposits tell of much warmer conditions, perhaps millions of years ago.This means that the geophysics programme on the present moraines is even more important since it will unravel the history of the last Ice Age cycle.Whatever we conclude, it is a good new hypothesis to test.

We have nieghbours! Chris Turney, Chris Fogwill and Camilla Rootes, the latter an ex-Geography student from Edinburgh, have pitched camp 2 km away.They are working with Australian research money with logistics via ALE.We have had them around for dinner and wine for a good evening. They are working on the climatic signal from the blue ice, which in effect is a horizontal ice core. We will probably contribute a radar line to their survey. 

Food has become a topic of conversation.We have been issued with food boxes each feeding two people for ten days.As a mark of their history and age they are called Man-Food boxes.Apparently the name was to distinguish them from Dog-Food boxes since the contents were rather similar.You might imagine that today people would object to the name.  But seeing the conservative nature of the contents, perhaps the name is not inappropriate!I, David, can notice some changes from the past.The biscuits can be eaten without soaking them in water to soften them and the Pack n’ Go meals in which you add water, wait five minutes and eat out of the bag, do save on washing up. Happily, our dinners have extras for which Scott and Malcolm imaginatively use recipes known only to the field assistant community! 

Off now to sit outside in the evening sun with a dram!


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