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Arctic Diary – Week Two

April 5 – April 12, 2002

Work slowed down when a 2-day wind storm blew in. At the research camp, people worked inside, but found sleep difficult in noisy, flapping tents. The winds were so strong that one of our outhouse tents (fortunately unoccupied!) was blown away. The blowing snow made visibility so poor, that at Alert we were only allowed outside in pairs.
When the storm broke, we were glad to finish setting up the camp on the Arctic sea ice, with the mountains of Ellesmere Island creating a beautiful backdrop.
One morning we had an unexpected visitor – a curious polar bear who circled our camp, checking us out before we scared him away by banging pots and pans from the kitchen tent.
The wind has hardened the snow so much that even a polar bear makes only shallow footprints.

Snow formations often look like sand dunes. In fact, the high Arctic has a desert climate, and the area around CFS Alert has less precipitation than the Sahara Desert.
Although our camp is on smooth, flat ice, we are surrounded by much rougher ice. Pressure ridges and large fractures reveal the characteristics of the ice below the snow.
"Sun dogs", the Arctic version of a rainbow, are caused by tiny ice crystals in the air that refract the sunlight.
After working outside in temperatures of -30 C to -40 C, our freezing breath forms clumps of frost on moustaches and eyelashes.

Week One / Arctic Diary / Week Three