Tuesday, 28 December 2010

After Christmas

Now we are already halfway between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Christmas Eve has been a rather quiet day – everybody did his work but took it the easy way. In the evening there was nothing specially arranged. I missed this because at home I would have been singing together with my family around the Christmas tree and would have gone either in the afternoon with my children to church or to the late-night mess. But, we had a big Christmas dinner on 25 December. At 3:30 in the morning the traverse team returned from the coast with the 11 containers which they unloaded from the Mary Arctica. During the day on 25 we unloaded the most important things from the containers (mainly the food and instruments). There is also a Christmas tree standing now at the station. For the Christmas dinner David, our formidable chef de cuisine, created a delicious menu. We were sitting together until late. But it was really strange to have the sun shining at midnight – it was absolutely clear sky and it was so light – it was difficult to get this traditional Christmas feeling of the shining lights of the Christmas tree and the crèche and of all the other lights making the dark night so specially enlightened at our latitudes.

The 26 December was again an absolute Antarctic summer day – not any cloud appeared and wind stayed calm. After the Christmas dinner, everybody slept long. In addition, it was a Sunday, and on Sundays, the main works are resting. So, I took my time to relax and to read and to write emails or to skype with my family. This is really a huge advantage – via skype I can see my wife and children and they can see me and we can talk so easily to each other. This helps a lot to forget a bit the fact that I am for a long time so far away.

The last two days I started to set up the TEOM in the southern shelter. This instrument will measure the mass concentration of particles in the lowest atmospheric layer. There are three main components I have to connect with each other via several data cables, plastic or stainless steel tubings. It is not easy not to mess this up. Today Ilyr, one of our carpenters and mechanics, came and made a special waterproof and insulated hole in the roof of the shelter through which all the necessary tubings are fed. The next step will be to put a specially designed inlet on the main tubing of the TEOM on the roof. The whole inlet-system will then have to be fixed to the roof in order to withstand the winds. The weather is changing now slowly. There are more and more clouds – it started with cirrus clouds and now it is nearly overcast with altocumulus and altostratus clouds. The wind also returned and although the temperature is not too cold (around -8 degC), it is now markedly less comfortable to be outside. The images show me on the roof of the southern shelter, installing another inlet for the aethalometer, the sunphotometer pointing to the sun, and some very nice cirrus clouds.

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