First of all, here's a picture of the dorm I live in (208):
and here's a picture from inside the room:
that's my half of the room, the refrigerator, TV, and my roommate's half of the room are behind the picture.
I've been working roughly 2 PM - Midnight in the forecast office, which is a portion of the top floor of this building (165):
In a way I am on my own in regards to the work I am doing here. My advisor and I, with the help of some of the more senior graduate students in our research group came up with a plan for my work here. It's a bit open ended and dependent on what I initially found here. I'm here from the AMPS (Antarctic Mesoscale Prediction System) project, developed by NCAR and the Polar Meteorology Group at Ohio State about five years ago. I'm here to get feedback from the forecasters on AMPS, whether it be specific products or its performance. They are the "customers" of AMPS, as they work with it real time every day. Also, work has been done to transition AMPS from using the MM5 forecast model to the new WRF model. We're also looking for any feedback on how the preliminary AMPS WRF has been performing during the field season. I'm also on the lookout for case studies of events that occur while I'm here. There hasn't been much so far, but that could change soon. Finally, we came up with a small research project for me to do while I am here, regarding model forecasts of meteorological variables important for flight operations. Along the way, I'm also learning a lot more about weather forecasting for this region, which poses many difficulties not seen in the United States.
A big topic of conversation around here during the past week was this article, one of a series by an MSNBC correspondent. This got around town quickly, and he was labeled as a whiner by many here (his next posting details some of the backlash). Incidentally, he was on the same flight south as me, and also stayed at the same hotel in Christchurch. I was aware of an MSNBC crew in Christchurch, but did not meet or talk with him or the photographer, and did not put everything together until last Sunday. My feeling was that he may not have been familiar as to what the trip down here would be like. Overall, from the empty Los Angeles-Auckland flight, the nice weather in Christchurch, the fact that the southbound flight left the day it was supposed to and we got some extra sleep that morning, and getting to ride in a C-17, we had it pretty good. I felt like I had a lot of the same problems as the correspondent (hasty flight connections in the U.S., lost luggage, first time here, alone). But I got advice and guidance from my friend and colleague Ryan, who has been down here three times and told me a lot of what to expect. So that helped a lot. I don't think anyone would argue that the trip from Christchurch to McMurdo makes for a long day, and I'm guessing other people also feel tired and disoriented from all of the travel (as did I). I heard others here say that the article was good, in that it shows some of what people go through just to get down here. I just tried to prepare the best I could, and deal with whatever happened on the trip here, and everything ended up working out just fine.
In the spirit of being positive, I'll close with some things I really like here so far:
- Free food
- Casual conversation in the forecast office
- No traffic
- Soft-serve ice cream with jimmies
- Armed Forces Television
- Weather nicer than back home (so far at least)
- Sunday brunch
- 24-hour daylight (it's still a novelty to me, all of the pictures in this post were taken at about 10:30 PM in the evening)
- Having a brat for lunch today
- Talking with my roommate about his work with seals