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A weather-curtailed radar survey of Leppard Glacier

April 21, 2013

Rob writes:

On Sunday, 21 April, we launched a series of helicopter missions to the lower portion of Leppard Glacier. The main objective was to find a place to install a very sensitive seismic instrument that my friend, Won Sang, and his team needed to deploy. Unfortunately, the rock sites surrounding the glacier were too unstable, so the decision was made to place the equipment on the ice next to where Jenn, Erin, and I were preparing for our radar ski traverse.

Erin Pettit and Jenn Bohlander prepare for their radar traverse on Leppard Glacier, with a background view down glacier onto the Scar Inlet Ice Shelf.

Erin Pettit and Jenn Bohlander prepare for their radar traverse on Leppard Glacier, with a background view down glacier onto the Scar Inlet Ice Shelf. (Credit: Rob Bauer, NSIDC)

The ski traverse was planned so that we would cross the main section of the glacier, with the three of us roped up to each other and to the sleds, and with the radar antennas stretched between Erin and me. We had flown over the area prior to landing in order to see if we could pick a spot with a minimum of cracks—but a lot of those crevasses could have been hidden.

We put Jenn out on the front since she was the lightest, and it was her job to lead us along the route, moving slowly and looking for any sign of crevasses. I was next, tied to Jenn and a sled I was hauling.

Jenn Bohlander on Leppard Glacier, with a background view up glacier.

Jenn Bohlander on Leppard Glacier, with a background view up glacier.  (Credit: Rob Bauer, NSIDC)

Rob Bauer on Leppard Glacier, with Mount Alibi in the background.

Rob Bauer on Leppard Glacier, with Mount Alibi in the background. (Credit: Jenn Bohlander, NSIDC)

Erin brought up the rear pulling the final sled. Luckily we had chosen right and saw no hint of a crack, but the skiing was tough due to the really rough ice and little snow cover.

We returned to our starting point, where Won Sang and crew were working, just in time to be picked up by the helos that had come out to warn us of bad weather sneaking in on the ships location. We loaded up and flew back to the boat, where we made a tricky landing in the wind and weather.

R/V Araon, parked against the fast ice in the Larsen B embayment, awaits the return of the Leppard Glacier radar survey team.

R/V Araon, parked against the fast ice in the Larsen B embayment, awaits the return of the Leppard Glacier radar survey team. (Credit: Rob Bauer, NSIDC)

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