Daily life on the ice – University of Copenhagen

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Centre for Ice and Climate > Research > Drilling and analysing ice cores > Field work > Daily life on the ice

Barbecue

Daily life on the ice

One of the first things you notice, when landing in the middle of the ice sheet, is the lack of sensory inputs. Apart from the camp, everything is white on white, and it is very rare for any living thing to travel so far inland. This also means that there really are no sounds or smells, other than from the camp or the roar of the wind during a storm. Many people compare the solitude to travelling in the middle of the ocean. At the typical camp altitude of 2½ - 3 km the air pressure is considerably lower than at sea level. Therefore, it is important that people take it easy the first couple of days they are in the camp in order to avoid experiencing altitude sickness.

The field season starts in early May and continues until mid-August. In this period the sun never sets and typical day temperatures are around -10°C, while nights may be as cold as -25°C. The combination of the high altitude and the low temperatures make for a very dry atmosphere.

A barbecue

Saturday night it is time for a nice dinner.

On a typical day in camp, work starts between 8 and 9 am and ends at 7 pm, where dinner is served. Also at lunchtime a hot meal is prepared by the cook. The meals are always highly appreciated after hours of working in the cold. While people that work on the surface, e.g. with maintenance of camp facilities or making measurements, are subject to the changing weather conditions, the drillers and core handlers that work underground have the same conditions every day: Temperatures around -20°C. These conditions call for good equipment, and the clothing for people working in the trenches includes several layers of woolen underwear and down jacket and pants as well as hats and gloves. The boots are especially designed for keeping warm under extreme conditions.

Most days are alike, but Saturday is always different. On this day work stops at 4 pm, when everyone starts getting ready for dinner by showering and dressing up in shirt and tie or a dress. The Saturday dinner is always something prepared with extra care by the camp crew. Often it consists of national dishes from some of the countries represented in camp. After dinner there is dancing or talking and singing for hours and hours. On Sundays work doesn't start until 10 am.