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And I thought driving across Kansas was an accomplishment…

February 23, 2008

Scientists studying the movement of glaciers in Antarctica;

Julian Scott has just returned from there. He told the BBC: “This is a very important glacier; it’s putting more ice into the sea than any other glacier in Antarctica. “It’s a couple of kilometres thick, its 30km wide and it’s moving at 3.5km per year, so it’s putting a lot of ice into the ocean.”

It is a very remote and inhospitable region. It was visited briefly in 1961 by American scientists but no one had returned until this season when Julian Scott and Rob Bingham and colleagues from the British Antarctic survey spent 97 days camping on the flat, white ice. At times, the temperature got down to minus 30C and strong winds made work impossible. At one point, the scientists were confined to their tent continuously for eight days.

“The wind really makes the way you feel incredibly colder, so just motivating yourself to go out in the wind is a really big deal,” Rob Bingham told BBC News.

When the weather improved, the researchers spent most of their time driving skidoos across the flat, featureless ice. “We drove skidoos over it for something like 2,500km each and we didn’t see a single piece of topography.”  (emphasis mine)

Holy frozen mackerel…  imagine making a fifteen-hundred mile trip on a frakkin’ snowmobile across a featureless sub-zero wasteland to gather data on ice movement.  The next time somebody tells me that scientists go into climate and geophysical studies because they get rich from academic grants, I’m gonna choke from laughing.