We finally made it to the lakes above Byrd Glacier, and what a beautiful site and perfect weather! It was a balmy -18F, but very calm winds made for a perfect afternoon for installation of our GPS units. The surface was a very densely packed snow rather than the blue ice we had been accustomed to working with which made the construction process go much more quickly! We did have to be quite careful of hidden crevasses, however. On blue ice, what you see if what you get. The crevasses are easily visible. On the snowpack, it becomes much more difficult to spot since the snow has been windblown and filled in the areas on the surface that would make crevasse detection relatively easy.
Upon our arrival to the deployment location, our mountaineers, Mike and Peter, had to probe around looking for these hidden dangers. Once an area had been determined clear and safe, we proceeded to unload the equipment. From here is was as simple and digging a hole for the equipment box, construction the frame and mounting the solar panels, then completing the install with the electronic hook-ups and testing.
Before we left on our flight yesterday we were able to witness the departure of the fuel tanker. It was quite interesting to see the Swedish ice breaker, Oden, tethered to the tanker to help pull it away from the dock and our into open water. By the time we arrived home, the container ship BBC EMS had taken the place of the tanker at the Ice Pier. The BBC EMS, is the annual resupply vessel, filled with containers carrying all sorts of items, from food to spare parts to new vehicles to chemicals and more.
Operations are conducted 24hrs-a-day for the offload and a lot of departments and work centers have reduced service hours during this time in order to support the effort. Meal times have changed, bars are closed, hiking trails are closed, and people are moving about station constantly.
Leigh and I have safely arrive in Christchurch, preparing for our second trip to Antarctica this field season. We flew down with several folks that will be wintering over on the ice. For some, this is their first trip to the ice ever, for others, this has just become a bit routine.
The weather here is a bit chilly and overcast this evening, with a very nice forecast for the next two days. The forecast for our friends and family back home in KS is not nearly as positive. I guess that all depends on how you look at it though.
It's already been a crazy winter, and now this! I'm not going to lie, there is a part of me that really wishes I was going to be there for this one. I'm obviously a person that doesn't mind the cold weather or snow. Safe travels to everyone back in the Midwest! Stay safe and warm! We'll try to do the same down south.
Pop QUIZ: How would you describe the job of a Petroleum Transfer Engineer?
The Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets (CReSIS) has the answer to such questions and much, much more. Over the past four years, CReSIS has been developing technologies, conducting field investigations and compiling data to help understand the rapid changes in the polar ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland. In conducting this research, their vision is to one day understand and predict the role of polar ice sheets in sea level change.
A total of five multi-disciplinary teams work together to conduct research allowing for efficient and well-coordinated progress. I took a closer look at the Satellite Measurements team and the instrumentation they’re using is quite fascinating. The instruments provide high-resolution information on everything from topography to temperature to surface melt. When comparing how these parameters change over time, the team can determine their effects on sea level, identify potential mechanisms controlling that effect, and then create computational models that explain these changes. You can even follow the field experiments that the center is currently conducting at their blog.
On top of all of that, CReSIS is also helping to inspire, educate and train K-12, undergrad and graduate students by encouraging the pursuit of careers in science and engineering as well as offering a variety of research opportunities. My personal favorite is the Ice, Ice, Baby lessons activities. Who cares if its designed for K-8 students! If you’re looking for something to do on a rainy day, I highly recommend making glacier goo. You can learn a lot while making a mess!