Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Observation Hill and a view of McMurdo

Sitting just to the east of McMurdo Station is Observation Hill, known locally as "Ob Hill". It is 230m (750ft) high and provides a nice hike when the weather is good. Scott Base, which is the New Zealand research base, is just on the other side of the hill.

Observation Hill is the dominant view to the east when in McMurdo

A large scale view of the area around McMurdo

The lay of the land surrounding McMurdo. I took this picture from a helicopter.
  1. McMurdo Station
  2. Observation Hill 230m (~750ft)
  3. Scott Base
  4. Mt Erebus 3,794m (12,448ft). The southern most active volcano in the world
  5. Williams Field (airport/runway for ski enabled planes)
  6. The edge of the Ross Ice Shelf (RIS). The blue line marks the transition between the sea ice and the ice shelf. The sea ice can melt out each season and is the result of sea water freezing. As I posted before, the RIS is floating ice that has come from the glaciers on land.

McMurdo seen from a helicopter. Mt Erebus sits behind us, but it cannot be seen when in town.

A few items to point out in the above photo:
  1.  Building 155 which contains The Galley (i.e. breakfast, lunch and dinner)
  2. The Crary Lab
  3. The dorm I'm staying in (203A)
  4. The helipad

From the top of Ob Hill you can see Scott Base

Scott Base is much smaller than McMurdo Station

A good view of the Helipad is available from Ob Hill

This A-Star helicopter was sling-loading a net full of gear

McMurdo Station, as seen from the top of Ob Hill

Myself (in red) and Atsu Muto (in black) on the summit of Ob Hill. Atsu did his graduate studies at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (University of Colorado), which is where I work. He studied the recent (50-year) temperature history of the East Antarctic Plateau and is now at Penn-State University working on detecting changes in ice mass via gravity. It was great to see an old friend in MacTown.
The cross in the photo above was erected in 1912 in memory of Robert Falcon Scott's party that attempted to reach the South Pole and return. The party perished on the Ross Ice Shelf after reaching the Pole.

The plaque with information about the cross

While on the summit we heard someone playing a saxophone - it was Jon Reese (a seal biologist) who carried up his instrument to play while taking in the view of Mt Erebus.