I got to go on the Science tour yesterday. I took a bunch of notes for you guys. Let’s see, this is all bullet points in my green brain. First, I learned that the solar winds affect the magnatism on the earth which affects our winds and our weather and that is a huge part of what they study down here. There are several instruments with tons of data being collected. There’s the usual with weather, wind, temp, etc. Then they monitor Erabus, the most active volcano so close to the surface. They are collecting 120 differant forms of data from Erabus. They look for clouds in the stratusphere which is about 100 Kilometers up (sorry about the kilometers, the scientist is a kiwi). It’s a light sensative device so you aren’t supposed to use your headlights when approaching Arrival Heights. Bec had a problem with the hard drive the other day. It burnt up and somehow that got the cloud detector out of alignment. She’s been having a little trouble getting it alligned just right. It has to be as exact as a clock that would get off track no morethan 3 seconds in a 30 year period.
They collect neutrons and particles that travel from the sun and they also listen to the air. I think they also listen to the stratosphere? I can’t remember but somewhere in the sky you can listen to the weather. Bec turned the volume up for us and we would catch little crackles once in awhile. She told us that was lightening storms in the tropics. We also got to see the ringing from an earthquake that happened in Tonga, I haven’t heard about that one. Do you remember that iceberg that broke off of Anarctica a few years back and how it was the size of New Jersey or whatever? Well, it had gotten stuck on the bottom of the ocean and Bec was in charge of monitoring the sizmagraph or whatever, it’s the instrument they use to record Erabus’ eruptions but that machine caught all the vibrations that the iceberg was causing by rubbing on the ocean floor. Bec told us that scientists say that 75% of the background noise heard in the ocean is from the icebergs in Antarctica. We got to listen to Erabus shift and change, they speed up the sound 100 times or so and it sounds like whale calls. Erabus spews out huge bombs which are all flaky and porous. I think it’s fast cooling lava. Inside those lava rocks the lava is under so much pressure and extreme temperature changes that it forms crystals, Kilamanjaro is the only other volcano that produces the same crystals. Bec told us how a steal case of batteries got hit by an erabus bomb, it caved in the case (about the size of a cedar chest) and melted everything inside it.
They have a camera set up on the lip of the volcano to constantly monitor the eruptions. They are pretty small, just some bubbling lava but that’s more than any other volcaono. Bec told us the camera is the same kind that they install in prisons it’s “riot proof” so it’s also able to handle the extremes of Eribus and Antarctica ( I was thinking of you, Dad). I have a picture of an Eribus bomb, a crystal and the camera when it got covered in ice and quit working. Technically, we should have pictures of Eribus right now, the camera is heat sensitive but it stopped working the day that they stopped flying the helicopters which is what they send out to repair it. So, no video for the winter.
I didn’t really retain all the information but she was also explaining the vortex of air that is formed around us. I think this happens up in the strotosphere as well. During the winter the winds circulate around Antarctica and forms a vortex so all air on the inside doesn’t change out, it doesn’t get any heat since there is no sun. This causes two things, one is it freezes and crystalizes a bunch of things which reflects light and makes amazing necrius clouds. We should get to see that in a couple months. I guess it’s amazing. The other thing that happens is that the chemicals and get more concentrated, do some changing and whatever it is that destroys ozone eats it up. Chlorine something, the regular pollutans. Instead of being circulated around the world and filtered out they do chemistry stuff and the result is a hole in the ozone BUT once the season of the vortex is over – when the sun rises? – then new air comes in and the hole is replenished. I didn’t know that!
All right, enough layman’s science from me. One more cool thing I learned: our body temperatures lower. How cool is that? I got my temp taken the other day and I was 96.4. The doctor said that people that work outside more regularily will have an even lower temp. How weird.