During one year, with two companions, I live in the remoteness of a small base practically cut off from the rest of the world, set up within the antarctic continent at an altitude of 2400 m and a temperature which can drop below -60°C. It is the outpost of the French participation to the International Geophysic Year. There I discover the icecap and skim over its misteries by measuring its radiative balance and by sampling the stratums of summer and winter snow.
For a glaciologist it is an immersion in a white desert.
There are the first measurements through a year-long cycle of temperature and wind speed variations which will model the surface shapes and disrupt the snow accumulation during blizzards.
And the implementation of simple techniques replacing the fragile shovels in a wind compressed snow to dig a few meters deep wells by core drills powered by the energy of our muscles to bore depths of twenty or so meters.
We will in this way gather our first samples covering decades until the last century. In the field, the observation under microscope shows us that the grain size of summer snows is larger than the one of winter snows; Thus one can date the snow layers. Back home, in the Saclay laboratory, the isotopic signature of these first samples will express the seasons alternation in terms of temperature. A first approach to the ice archives.