SUSAN SOLOMON: COOL INSIGHTS
Halfway along her chilly walk from the cafeteria to the laboratory, the young woman's pace slows to a crawl. Since her arrival at Antarctica's McMurdo Station 10 days ago, she has acclimatized surprisingly well. She has come to relish the two-mile stroll, even in temperatures as low as -20 degrees Fahrenheit. Yet today the air feels much more intensely frigid. Her legs start to feel numb, and her jeans turn strangely stiff. Ice crystallizes in the corner of her right eye, and the cold tears at her lungs. She suddenly realizes how lucky she is to be so near the warmth of civilization.
That day in 1986 atmospheric chemist Susan Solomon truly understood the unremitting hostility of the earth's southernmost continent. The temperature had dipped to a dangerous -50 degrees F; the windchill was below -100 degrees F. Solomon was visiting Antarctica to study trace gases in the atmosphere, but the experience also inaugurated a 15-year investigation into the tragic expedition of Robert Falcon Scott, the English explorer who perished on the ice in 1912 after narrowly losing a race to the South Pole.
This article was originally published with the title Thawing Scott's Legacy.