Wind

As I lounge around Lake Hoare waiting for the wind to blow away the fog bank that is nestled along the valley walls, it brings to mind just how powerful the wind is in controlling the natural environment of the Dry Valleys.

Antarctica is quoted as the coldest, driest, and windiest of the continents, and this is all too obvious in the Dry Valleys. Without protective vegetation or a blanket of ice, the exposed rocks have been unrelentingly frost-shattered and sand blasted for millions of years. The result are ventifacts that have been abraded and polished into statues attesting to the strength of the elements.

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In the valley bottoms, the wind may be dampened, but it’s no walk in the park. Here are some data from Lake Bonney from 2009. Note the manic-depressive winter winds from April to October.

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And in the spring, we often arrive in the valleys to find that in the battle of science vs. wind, wind can frequently take the upper-hand.

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One response to “Wind”

  1. Dan Jorgensen says :

    It’s amazing that people have trekked around in Antarctica, living in tents for weeks or sometimes months with those winds and temperatures. One of the most remarkable stories I’ve read involves 3 or 4 of Scott’s men including the expedition scientist, Dr. Wilson and “Birdie” Bowers, both of whom died with him on the polar trek later in the expedition. At any rate, they wanted to collect Emperor Penguin eggs. If I recall correctly, it had something to do with verifying the theory of evolution, which wasn’t that old back then. So they set out in the dead of winter, despite 24 hour darkness and temps that dropped to -70 F two days into the trek, to raid a penguin rookery. When they got there they built a shelter out of rocks and tied their tent on top of it. The wind promptly came up, ripped the tent off and continued roaring, leaving them huddled for several days in their sleeping bags inside their roofless shelter. When the wind finally abated they were lucky enough to find their tent or they would never have survived the return trip.

    You’re walking a pretty fine line when as simple a shelter as a tent makes the difference between living and dying. All in the name of science. I hope the roof doesn’t blow off your shelter Hilary ‘;0)

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