SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Monday was World Penguin Awareness Day! How could I not try to tie in penguins with our weather here?
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, during Antarctica’s winter, temperatures normally get between 60 to 80 degrees below zero at the South Pole. While we don’t get ANYWHERE close to those numbing temperatures, we do get some cold spells. Our coldest normal low and high temperatures drop into the upper 30s and low 60s.
SCIENCE: Penguins already have a built-in defense to the cold air. It’s an extra layer of fat below their skin called blubber. They use blubber to insulate heat to keep themselves warm from the harsh cold and icy water.
But because we don’t have that layer of blubber, we tell you to bundle up. Wearing extra layers allows our clothes to be a barrier between you and the cold air, allowing you to stay warm. Without that barrier, we have a low tolerance for the cold.
EXPERIMENT: In this experiment, I have to imitate blubber using shortening to see how cold my hand gets in the icy water inside a “blubber” glove.
The temperature of this water is close to freezing. As I put the glove in, the cold is going to try to fight its way into the inside of the glove.
I’m also using my thermometer to see how warm the inside of the glove and my hand stays compared to the outside.
After 5 minutes in the water...
There is a 30 degree difference from the outside of the glove and the coldest part of my hand. While my fingertips were still cool to touch, having that barrier still kept me warm enough to withstand the cold water.
This just shows how important wearing layers is during the cold. It allows us to maintain our body heat. Try it for yourself to see if you can feel the cold!
FULL EXPERIMENT: Using shortening to show how we need layers to stay warm in the cold
Ice (Lots of Ice)
2 Large Ziploc Bags
1. Fill up a bowl half full with lots of ice. Then add water.
-Fill up bowl until 3/4 full with water.
2. Take one Ziploc Bag and fill it with 3-4 giant spoonfuls of shortening.
3. Put your hand inside the other Ziploc Bag of the same size and push it into the shortening filled bag.
4. Spread the shortening around the inner bag until it covers your hand like a glove.
5. Fold the openings of the Ziploc Bags over each other and tape them together.
6. Stick your hand into the “blubber glove” and put it in the frozen water. See how long you can leave your hand in there until you feel the cold through the glove.