Sunday
Dec092007

VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR!

UltimateearthFrom anywhere on planet earth you can log into the Virtual Book tour for Antarctica: Life on the Ice. As someone I know would say, how cool is that?

When: Thursday December 13, 5 PST, 8 EST
How: log into SusanFoxRogersBookTour.com
What: Ask questions--any questions you might have about the Antarctic or about the anthology--and someone will answer it. You can ask by calling in, or by sending an email (now or during the tour). You can listen live or if you can't make it you can listen to it later.
Who: I will be there (of course). Joining me will be former NSF representative Guy Guthridge, who was in charge of the Artist & Writers program and Katy Jensen, who was station manager at the South Pole and has wintered there several times. Also, direct from the Antarctic will be IT guru Karen Joyce and Mr. Penguin, David Ainley. Karen will be calling in from McMurdo and David from Cape Royds. This is a rare opportunity!

Please Join us!

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Tuesday
Dec042007

A View from Above of the Bottom of the Earth

TransantarcticmountainsLook at the Antarctic from above! This image, from the Landsat Image Mosaic of Antarctica is of Antarctica--anyone want to guess what we are looking at? The entire continent except the South Pole is covered and you can zoom in and out of various locations. For a map nut, it doesn't get any more exciting than this.

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Wednesday
Nov282007

Log from Cape Royds, or, More Penguins! and Whales!

1banded_penguinsDavid Ainley gave an overview of his work with Adelie penguins at Cape Royds in an earlier blog (below) and now he's generously sharing the day to day (including Thanksgiving!) and the science of his life on the ice.

We began this 12th year leaving the USA on 4 Nov, arriving in Christchurch NZ on 6 Nov and then, after a few days of weather delay, arriving at McMurdo Station, Ross Island, on 11 Nov. While in McMurdo we attended courses on survival in extreme conditions, proper conduct in specially protected areas, and the proper disposal/recycling of no-longer-need materials (cans, bottles, paper, metal, etc). McMurdo saves for recycling about 80% of its refuse (the remainder goes in a landfill in the USA). During this period, too, we sorted through our field gear and acquired our camping gear from the Berg Field Center. We had to do this for 3 camps, all on Ross Island, at Cape Crozier (a hut there), Cape Bird (a hut), and Cape Royds (a tent). We had at least a ton of stuff, including food.

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Wednesday
Nov282007

Antarctica is for Dreamers and Readers

Rossiceshelf_thumb World Hum is a marvelous website devoted to travel writing. Editor Jim Benning interviewed me yesterday--it was a fun conversation--about the Explorer sinking and about Antarctica: Life on the Ice. Here is the World Hum interview.

They have lots of wonderful material at World Hum, and in their dispatches they published Jason Anthony writing about the Antarctic: "A Brief and Awkward Tour of the End of the Earth." This essay was selected for Best American Travel Writing, 2007.

Here is the opening of Jason's "AGO 1" from Antarctica: Life on the Ice:

November, 2000: After five seasons of fairly civilized Antarctic work, I took on a ominous job offered to me at the end of the polar summer by a drunken friend. Kip reeled across the floor of McMurdo Station’s darkened carpenter shop during its massive end-of-season party in February and shouted a slurred version of the question we all ask at the end of an Antarctic contract: “Hey man, are you coming back next year?” When I shrugged the shrug of the restless, he yelled “You should come back and work for AGO next year. It’s crazy!” AGO (pronounced like the end of “Winnebago”) is the Automated Geophysical Observatory program, the maintenance of which demands some of the most notorious work in the United States Antarctic Program (USAP). Kip had graduated to management, and would be doing the hiring.


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Sunday
Nov252007

Spirit of Shackleton

ShackletonThe cruise ship Explorer that sunk in Antarctic waters has gotten a lot of attention. Those aboard were on a trip in the "Spirit of Shackleton." They were probably thinking of his 1914 Endurance expedition, not the trip with Scott in 1901 when he was sent home with scurvy. During the Endurance expedition--the Antarctic adventure with more amazing plot twists than any before or since--the ship was crushed in the ice. So these tourists got a real taste of Shackleton's adventure! But it took a lot longer for Shackleton's crew to be saved--21 waited on Elephant Island for four and a half months, through an Antarctic winter, while Shackleton set out over 800 miles of open water to South Georgia Island  where he found help at a whaling outpost, Stromness Station. The photo here is either of Shackleton's men waving goodbye or welcoming the ship in. The photo is taken by Frank Hurley--if you don't know his photos, go find them. All of Shackleton's men survived--by keeping busy and singing songs. I wonder if the survivors of the Explorer sang as they waited to be picked up?

There are a lot of amazing things about this story of the Explorer, and one that has not been explained in any article I've read is how an iceberg can pierce the hull of a ship without the captain being aware of the location of such an iceberg. Icebergs are big. Technology that tells a ship what is where underwater is very sophisticated. If anyone sees information on this--let me know!

The other  amazing  detail is that  help was so close at hand. Several other cruise ships were close enough to quickly pluck everyone from the icy waters. One of those ships was a National Geographic cruise ship. Jon Bowermaster, who contributed a thrilling essay about flying onto the ice to Antarctica: Life on the Ice, was on that ship as a tour guide. He was also using the trip south to drop off supplies for his upcoming Antarctic kayaking expedition. Be sure to look at his posts and the audio descriptions of his trip. Because he was close at hand, Jon has been interviewed by the New York Times, ABC news, and NPR. The article in my local paper from Kingston, NY, the Daily Freeman, celebrates Jon, as he's a local boy:

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