Date: 17 October 2012
Wind speed: 5 knots
Temp with wind chill: -26C
Early summer is an extremely changeable time in Antarctica, not only in terms of the human activity that is ramping up for the season, but in the natural world around us as well. The temperature creeps reliably upwards while the sea ice thickens daily, Emperor penguins depart whilst the Adélies start to arrive, and lots of baby Weddell seals are born.
Most noticeable of all, however, is the arrival of 24 hour daylight. Because of our southern latitude, the amount of sunlight we get each day increases here more noticeably than it does at more equatorial latitudes. Right now, although the sun still technically 'sets' and 'rises' it really only appears to creep behind the mountains on the horizon for a bit before re-emerging on the other side. We never really have true darkness anymore, and 3:00 in the morning is almost as bright as 3:00 in the afternoon. Even when it is overcast, the reflecting whiteness of the snowy landscape means that it is still bright outside.
Pressure ridges in late evening sun © AHT/Jana
For some people the 24 hour daylight is difficult to get used to, and their biorhythms and sleep habits suffer as a result. Sleeping in a tent in bright daylight can be a bit challenging when we are living in the field, but we are usually so exhausted from the day's work that sleep never eludes us for long!