I’m back at Rothera. It slowly occurred to me over the summer at home that working in Antarctica didnt have to be a one off and an email from the Field Operations Manager as I boarded a plane to Tanzania offering me a couple of months work was too big a temptation. It feels great to be back at Rothera helping train new staff, eat amazing meals, go skiing after work and of course do lots and lots of digging.
This season I am doing a variety of work for BAS both from Rothera where I was for my 18 month contract and also at Halley on the Brunt Ice shelf. The first part of my season is focused on Instruments. This is based from Rothera with trips between a day and week to service, relocate or replace instruments that record Glacial Re-bound, Ice shelf movement or the weather. As a Field Guide my job is to help the pilot spot crevassing and a good landing spot, help access the site (deciding to rope up or not, to use skis or not or just to wander on over) and then help with any digging. If the trip is overnight the Field Guide also sets up camp and sorts food and water out while the Pilots/scientists/engineers are doing their work.
This summer there is a large focus on training at Rothera. I have learnt things this summer that I should have known two years ago when I first started. One of the main things has been sharing knowledge with the pilots who we spend a lot of time with. Above – a group of field guides staring at a plane at the ski-way above Rothera. This was aborted due to high winds in the end but the end of a training exercise in how to lay out Ski-ways in the field and on safe loading of Aircraft.
Blair carefully digging up a seismometer a few kilometers from base. Science gear weighs a lot and even being able to drive Ski-doos to within about a kilometer of this site it probably took us the best part of two hours for Blair, Ben and I to get everything onto the pulks and tow it back up the glacier.
More training. Fuchs being used by some of the fire team to practice blind searchs.
First up I did a day with Ben (Electronics Engineer) and Ian (Pilot) to the Welch Hills and Traverse Mountains a short flight south of Rothera. These sites were in a spectacular location a short flight down the peninsular
Old depot – new science. While at the second site we were also meant to remove an old depot. We had originally thought that the depot was American but on opening the manfood box we realised it was British. (The marmite is the giveaway!) This food was pre- use by date but some of it was manufactured in 1970. The chocolate still tastes great but we werent brave enough to try anything else.
Science on the Larsen C. The larsen C has become well known in recent years after the collapse of the Larsen B iceshelf in 2002. Recently the largest Iceberg ever recorded (the A68) broke off the Larsen C. BAS personnel now have to have a plane with them at all times while working on this Iceshelf.
A68 Iceberg edge. One of our tasks was to photograph the A68 Berg which is reported to be the same size as Wales or London depending who you ask (A bit like saying “as deep as the grand canyon” it doesnt really mean anything other than its really big).
Hammer plate Seismic’s on the Larsen C, Emma manning the computer and Jim hammering the plate. There are Geo phones every 10m for 200m which measure the shock of the hammer down the line. I’m assured that this is world class science.
The tent all set up for the night. I have been trialing a new tent made by “Arctic Oven” which is massive but not as heavy as the traditional pyramid tents. With Jim and Emma on the Larsen they were so busy with hammering etc they actually only came into the tent for a nap at 7am! I estimated that Jim had done over 500 hits with the sledge hammer and walked over 10km through the night. (I did help out till midnight and then made then tea at 3am and checked on them at 5!)
Coming in to land at Union Glacier. Straight after being on the Larsen C for two days I flew further onto the continent via Fossil Bluff, Sky Blu and Union Glacier (The field camp of the commercial operator A.L.E). Myself, Alex (Electronics Engineer), Dave and Mark (both Pilots) flew out to the Foundation ice stream to pick up some instruments that will be redeployed later this season.
I dont have many photos of the Foundation Ice stream as the weather was chasing us. Above – Dave getting a quick nap after some digging before another flight.
My next big chunk of work will be at Halley on the Brunt ice shelf a base that has been in the news a lot this year. Should be interesting!