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The crew of B-424, The Wormherders, met in Los Angeles airport December 26 after each had spent Christmas with friends and family in different states within the USA. From Los Angeles we had a very long flight to Auckland, New Zealand, and continued from there to Christchurch on the south island. Right after we landed we went to the CDC where we get our extreme weather clothes and got prepared to go to McMurdo the next morning. We were supposed to leave Christchurch 9 am December 29 but due to bad weather in Antarctica we got delayed 24 hours, so we got to spend an extra day in Christchurch (although it was nice day with warm weather and sunshine, we would have preferred to go straight to McMurdo and get ready for the field season). Fortunately the weather in Antarctica changed during the day and we got up at 4:30 am the next morning to go to the airport and get the final briefing before taking off.

We took off as scheduled on the morning December 30. The plane was a large cargo plane operated by the US military. It was a relatively small group of people that boarded the plane – only about 40 people plus the crew. So we were placed along the sides of the cargo room with a view of the cargo. The flight from Christchurch to McMurdo takes about 5 hours in this type of place, and as you can see in the picture below the time is spent for work, play and taking naps.

Before we landed on the Ross Icesheet we put on our customary extreme weather clothes). When we landed the weather was very nice, sunny and just below freezing, with a few clouds making for a good picture of our ride to McMurdo.

From the landing strip its about 30 minutes ride on a large bus made for driving on the snow road. When we got into ‘town’ we got a briefing to help us settle in. Since then we have been to several mandatory lectures and presentations, and we’ve had some training to help us be safe in this extreme environment. One of our crew members is currently on the ‘Happy Camper’ course, which all new personel must take. The rest of us are working hard to get our lab up and running, and arranging field work for next week. We hope to have our first field day this Monday (January 4 – after the customary music festival, Icestock, which marks the turn of the year). We will keep you updated on our progress over the next month and let you know what we’re up to.

Until next time – Happy New Year to you all

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The Wormherders are almost on our way to our second home in Antarctica. In contrast to last year our crew members will celebrate Christmas with their families in stead of in Antarctica and then head south. We will be leaving USA December 26, arrive in Christchurch, New Zealand December 28 and, with some luck and good weather, make it to McMurdo Station on Ross Island by December 29.

While we’re there we will undertake our regular research and begin some new projects. Currently our plan is to be there until late January and during this time we will try to update you on our progress as often as possible and tell you about life in McMurdo during this field season. If you have any comments and/or questions please feel free to upload them to the site or otherwise you can send an email to uffe@nrel.colostate.edu and we will try to answer it as best we can.

For now the Wormherders wish you all a very merry Christmas.

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