Monday, May 9, 2011

ECW: Extreme Cold Weather

8th May 2011
Antarctica: Discovered in 1820, the most southerly continent, encapsulating the South Pole and 98% covered in ice = one of the most extreme and harsh continents in the world. Considered a desert (an average of just 8 inches of rain fall here a year) there are no permanent residents and just a few thousand people visit this continent each year, primarily for science purposes. Though the average temperatures at this time of year on the Western Antarctic Peninsula (where this expedition is headed) are around -10C, the coldest natural temperature on earth was recorded on this continent, -89.2C, at the Russian Vostok Station in 1983. All of this cold weather calls for some pretty serious exposure protection - ECW Gear.

Every person deploying with the United States Antarctic Program (USAP) is kitted out with ECW (Extreme Cold Weather) gear before deployment either to the ships or bases that enter Antarctica. One of the first things we do when we enter Chile, usually the day after we fly into Punta Arenas, is head to the warehouse at the docks and try on all our ECW gear to make sure it all fits and we have enough to keep us warm while working in the cold. Every person on the cruise gets the following:-

2 pairs of thermal underwear
2 pairs of wool socks
1 outer Gore-Tex jacket
1 polar fleece jacket
1 polar fleece pants
1 polar fleece neck gaiter
1 polar fleece hat
1 Gore-Tex bib
3 pairs of gloves (1 pair of liners, 1 pair of leather work gloves, 1 pair wool gloves)
2 pairs of fishermen's gloves
1 pair waterproof mitts
1 pair googles
1 PVC jacket
1 PVC bib
1 set of steel toe waterproof boots

By supplying all of these warm clothes to the scientists who deploy to the Antarctic, the USAP is ensuring we both stay warm, but also that we stay safe while working in the coldest, driest, windiest and harshest place on earth.

With last minute preparations almost finished, we'll be ready to sail at 1600 on Monday!

By: Rhian

Weather: 37F, 5 knots wind, sunny

The manekin at the USAP warehouse, showing us all what we will look like by the time ECW gear issues is done! (T. Vd Flierdt)

To get your ECW gear, the first thing you need to do is see Pablo, who will help you choose all the right gear to go on your science expedition. (T. Vd Flierdt)

Everyone going out on an expedition is handed a large duffel bag, with clothes to try on to make sure they all fit. We'll all keep, and wear, these clothes until the end of the expedition, then hand them back in to be washed and passed onto the next USAP participant. (D. Case)

Shannon Hoy shows us her polar fleece and googles! (T. Vd Flierdt)

There are rack and racks of every size scientist coming through the ECW warehouse! (D. Case)

David Case shows off his new ECW hat! (T. Vd Flierdt)

1 comment:

  1. David Case,

    Thank goodness you grew in Wisconsin....what is a little cold weather to you? NOTHING?

    Hope all is well!