Summer/Winter - 2002/2003

There are some new pictures :)). Also a new "Picture of the week".

Besides posting the current events, I also try to get the older stuff on the web.

The auroras are back :)))

back to main page

September & October 2002

On September 5th I came to Colorado to do my psych exam and to participate in the ropes course. This course should help to build a team out of mostly strangers who will spend 13 months together at the South Pole.
Part of us went also to fire school, other to trauma training. Since we are our own fire fighters and emergency response team at the South Pole.

On October 23rd we made it to McMurdo and on October 26th we arrived at the South Pole.

November 2002
First Days - TEST

December 2002

January 2003


Some pictures from my trip with a Twin Otter this week.
On Sunday the 12th we had a cargo carnival - basically a big party with a lot of fun things to do :)


From the 23rd to 28th I was in McMurdo for my R&R (Rest & Relaxation), our little vacation at the beach. Unfortunately the sea ice is still very thick this year, so no water, no beach.
Only behind the icebreaker "Polar Sea" were small ponds of open water. These are used immediately by seals and in the far distance one could see some penguins.
The first two days I went to Snow Craft I, a two day course for how to survive in the harsh environment. This course is mandatory for all field parties etc. and you learn how to built different kind of snow shelters, how to use the survival bag etc. In the passed years I always missed out, but this year it worked out.
McMurdo had a three day storm just in the beginning of the week, so there was a lot of wet snow, which was easy utilized to build a snow mount or trench. With -5°C it seemed very warm to us and the night in my trench was a very relaxing one --- 9.5 hours of sleep, the most I got for a long time, no phones, no fire alarms, no slamming doors etc.
Monday we got on skidoo trip to "room with a view". That is about 350m up the slope of Mt Erebus.
This is a nice lookout point, the clouds were at about 600m so we couldn't see much of Erebus itself. It cleared up in the evening and on Tuesday there was no cloud in the sky. On this day we had to wait for 10 hours until all mechanical problems on our plane were solved and we took off towards the Pole.
The view over the Transantarctic Mountains was magnificent.

February 2003


On Saturday night we had a Coffee-house or open mic. We definitely got some very talented people here and it was an awesome 4 hour performance.

Sunday morning just after 03:00 we heard the news about the Columbia. The flags on top of the dome and at the geographical Pole were set to half-mast and in the evening was a brief memorial service outside (see misc. pix February ).


Only a few more days until we are moving to the new station, today was a big cleaning day. The new station looks great, except the design of the hallways is very hard on your eyes. And amazing enough no one likes it, so hopefully it won't be there forever.


Only a few more days until the move -- well it didn't really work like that, to many things were unfinished or causing problems and last but not least bureaucracy. So one day the top ten reason why we can't move into the new station showed up :)))

Top Ten reasons we can't move into the new station:

It was built on top of an old indian burial ground

Turns out the wall coverings were recycled from Chernobyl

Adding our weight to the already sinking station would force it lower than old pole before station opening in November

NSF trying to avoid that "winter over" smell at opening

Raytheon just realized that none of us have the security clearance to be in a secret missile launch facility

The fire panel that lived up to its name

the elevator that doesn't

NSF doesn't want us mooning scientists as they walk in from the dark sector

water with more lead in it than a mafia informant

When choosing the colors for the wall, NSF accidentally chose the "makes them insane" patterns vs the "calm and soothing" patterns

Refrigeration Antarctica....DUH!

No more comments :)))

15.02.03 - 14:26 ---- Winter Started ----

The last four planes came in today, bringing in more supplies and taking the last summer folks North.
It's closing day at the Pole :)). Hopefully the start to another great winter. First of all the atmosphere relaxes after the stressful summer months. You finally find out with whom you gonna winter ;))
In the evening we watched after an old South Pole tradition the old and new version of "The Thing".


All the station closing tasks started, i.e. shutting down summer camp, setting up flag lines between outside buildings, remove runway markers and fuel lines, winterize equipment etc.
Temperatures are definitely dropping now. The following graph displays the temperature since we arrived here at the Pole at October 16th 2002. I will update it every week with the most recent observations.

Ambient Tempearture at the South Pole 2002/2003


Yes it's cold here and things tend to freeze, but if it is you wine or you sewage pipe the fun is over.

March 2003


On March 7th the galley moved from the dome to the new station, i.e. we were allowed to move to the new station as well :))).


Today we had our 1st formal dinner in the new Galley.
The Sun is getting very low in the sky and only one week left until sunset, temperatures are dropping steadily.

Johnathan Berry started a "picture of the week" last year and I try to continue this. So have a look at Pix of the week.


Sunset is officially at Equinox. Due to refraction in the atmosphere the sun will be visible for a few more days after sunset, providing the weather is good enough. We saw the last bit of the sun at March 25th. Now we will have twilight for the next few weeks before it will be dark for the next months. Venus is bright in the sky and the waning moon was following the sun below the horizon.

April 2003

It's getting dark enough for the first auroras to show up. Check out my aurora page from this year.

May 2003


On May 16th we were able to witness a lunar eclipse and that in the afternoon -- Antarctica makes it possible :)). We even had some nice auroras.

June 2003


Around now would be the darkest period of the winter if there wasn't the moon. For two weeks every months it nearly seems like daylight. After months in the dark the moonlight is mostly very much appreciated. I went out on a moon-light-tour around the station.


June 21st was midwinter which markes an important date in Antarctica. The sun reached it lowest point below the horizon, from now on it will be slowly moving towards the Southern hemisphere again and will reach the horizon (i.e. the sun will be above the equator) in 3 months.
The midwinter weekend is a big party all over the continent and every station sends a picture with midwinter greetings. The American staions also recieve a letter from the White House.

July 2003

It's already July - time is flying by. Travel books and guides are appearing all over the place, people start making plans exchaning information a few more months and we are back in the green world - New Zealnd, Australia, South Pacific, Asia... .
I have to make up for the exeptional summer I'm missing at the moment in Germany. These days we have 100°C (180 F) temperature difference between here and back home.

Construction is now also big in winter time - and there is a lot to do.

Our crew is the first one to occupy the new station. It is still under construction and will be for a while. Take a station tour.

Here are some aerial photos from the NSF and New York Air National Guard. .

August 2003


The sun is now very obvious on the horizon, it is still dark and we enjoy the stars and auroras, but nevertheless it is only 5 weeks now until sunrise.


After a heat wave with temperatures up to -43°C it got colder again and on the night of August 14th to 15th the temperatures droped again to -70°C (below -90 F) - time for a camping trip.
The tent was set up right over the Earth's South Pole axis at the geographic South Pole. Even with the this low outside tmeperatures the night was comfortable in two sleeping bags, just the getting up part in the morning was a bit chilly. Pictures from August .


Every day it is getting a bit brighter outside. After about 10 days of high winds and lots of blowing snow we got some big snow drifts, but at least it's bright enough so one can see them now. Early twilight

September 2003


September is one of the coldest month down here. Temperatures are in the high 90s - but negative :)) and today we reached -100 F (-73.4°C) again.

Since it made the news here are some links about the coming Medevac:


The whole Medevac went very smooth and everything worked out well in the end. The Medevac

October 2003


Of course no winter without an Oktoberfest :)). I made some big pretzls again and we decorated the galley with Bavarian flags. We even had real ¨live¨ Oktoberfest music. Afterwards we had an awesome art show. We have some very talented people on the crew. Oktoberfest and Art Show


Middle of October we had a very impressive storm. It more or less doubled the existing snow drifts around station. The Great Storm


First Flights are coming. Station opening was on the 25th of October - the winter is over.


Time to part. The majority of our winter-over crew is leaving now - off to the warm North :)). Only few of us will stay behind for a few more days and weeks - the left-overs Exodus.

November 2003


It's time to leave for me, too! It will take several months until I will be able to work on this webpage again. Thanks for visiting.

Photo Galleries

back to main page