phil jacobsen


Antarctic Sun

I’ve written a couple of things for the Antarctic Sun. Here’s the latest posting. The whole paper can be found here:

Cold weather can’t disguise winter at McMurdo Station

McMurdo Station External U.S. government site didn’t have to wait long to feel the chill of Mother Nature as winter got under way last month.

Wind gusts blowing more than 60 knots and temperatures dropping to degrees that would be warm if they were on the plus side, we learned quickly what can be in store for us this winter: Cold, cold and cold, with a seven-month extended weather forecast of cold and blowing winds.

Twilight casts glow over building and town.
Photo Credit: Ben Adkison
The setting sun casts a glow on Discovery Hut and McMurdo Station.

Even if we hadn’t read Antarctica for Dummiesbefore coming down here, most of us probably had a faint recollection or inkling that winter at McMurdo would include cold temperatures. No one complained about the cold; the biggest problem with March coming in like a lion was that we haven’t had enough time to meet our 143 co-inhabitants of McMurdo.

With the cold weather came face masks, goggles, scarves and our standard issue Big Red parkas. Even if my mother was stationed down here, I would not have been able to distinguish her from Jeremy the Plumber, as they would both be clad in the same attire.

Most people dealt with this inability to recognize people by simply keeping their head down as they ducked in and out of buildings. I just started calling everyone “Mike.” There are seven “Mikes” in McMurdo this year. With 5 percent of the population named “Mike,” I was only wrong 95 percent of the time. In some aspects of my life, this is a huge improvement.

And, when I was met by a cold stare (likely), then I’d run through the other popular names. There are five guys named “Rob” and four named “David” or “Ray.” Throw in a few named “John,” “Dan,” “Brian,” “Jason,” “Richard,” or “Bill,” and now you’re saying, “hello,” to almost 30 percent of our population.

The women have proven to be a bit more difficult. Only two share the same name: Cynthia. And one insists on being called “Cindy,” because that’s her name.

The Lion of March quit roaring just in time for us to celebrate Easter. With limited supplies, eggs and costuming, we did the best we could. We decorated beverage cans and it was eggcellent. Though it’s a good thing there aren’t any kids down here; our bunny lacked cute and cuddly.

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