Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Well Met

Despite strong, gusty winds, we had a good day out at the weather stations (sometimes called "met" stations--short for "meteorology" stations). You might think that Thomas has a tough job, clinging to a 3 m tall mast, replacing sensors in the wind (and he sure does)...

Thomas Nylen at the Lake Vanda Met Station

...but my job's not only taking neat stereo images...

Thomas and Rae working on the Vanda Met Station, with "the Dais" cliffs in the background.

...It also involves making measurements of the Dry Valleys soils. Normally, it's nice to be low to the ground on a windy day. But with strong enough gusts, the sand on the valley floor begins to move and bounce--blown along by the gusts. This is called saltation, and is the process that piles up sand into dunes. On a really windy day, like last Thursday, the wind whips around any obstacle it in its way, making eddies of wind and sand, like eddies in a river. Any time I bent down to pick up one of my sensors, I became just such an obstacle. The wind would whip around me, and blast a column of sand right into my face. Not a fun way to collect a sediment sample!

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