Posts Tagged ‘Flight’

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Update from the ice field

December 14, 2009

Terry Haran is still in Boulder, Colorado. He’ll be departing on Christmas Eve for Punta Arenas (shortly after Ted returns home for a short holiday visit) to participate in the second leg of the trip.

Terry writes:
The team is currently near the summit divide of the Bruce Plateau, conducting an Ice Penetrating  Radar (IPR) survey. The goal of the survey is to help determine the optimum location for retrieving an ice core. Ellen Moseley-Thompson and a team from the Byrd Polar Research Center (BPRC) plan to drill the core in January and February 2011. Their team will deploy to the to the same location as soon as the IPR team is finished.

The purpose of the ice core is to characterize the paleoclimatology of the LARISSA study area going back in time as far as possible, hopefully as much as 10,000 years or so. The ideal location would have a depth to bedrock of about 500 meters (about the maximum depth that the BPRC team will be able to drill in the time alloted to them), and would have a relatively smooth bedrock surface.

Ted’s team also hopes the IPR survey can characterize the inter-annual layering found in the upper 100 to 200 meters of the much younger snow cover known as “firn” that is in the process of compacting to eventually become ice. The ideal layering found at the ice core site would be horizontal and uniform with little evidence of firn motion downhill from the summit ridge.

Over the weekend, we got a few updates from the field. I spoke to Ted on the phone, and he said they had surveyed about 60 kilometers with the 5 MHz (deep) radar and were getting good data with it. They think they’ve accomplished all they need to with this radar.

In the next few days before the team return to Rothera Station, they were hoping to resurvey some lines with the 25 MHz (medium depth) radar and to obtain some higher precision differential GPS data for some survey markers than they had geolocated with their hand-held GPS. However, a powerful storm was on its way, so they decided to spend Sunday preparing for the storm and staying in their tents analyzing the 5 MHz data they have collected.

The latest update we received, from the LARISSA operations team, informed us that the team is ready for pickup. However, because of bad weather that’s expected to stick around for the next couple days, they might not be able to get a plane in for a few more days.

The MODIS images below show the location of the team on the Antarctic Peninsula

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Rothera Station, Antarctica

December 8, 2009

Rob writes:

We have arrived at Rothera Station! Erin, Ted and I had a great flight south from Punta Arenas, Chile to Rothera Station, arriving Sunday afternoon. The team jumped right in to organizing our equipment for the flight to the survey site. Monday brought more cargo work and a shakedown cruise of the radar systems. It was a long day, but everyone had a great time.

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Santiago, Chile

December 2, 2009

Rob and Ted write:

We just arrived in Santiago after a long flight south, almost 10 hours and 7,583 kilometers. During the night, we had a spectacular view of a towering thunderstorm—some of the most intense lightning we’ve ever seen. We were watching for “Sprites,” upward propagating electrical discharges high above the clouds that have some quite distinctive shapes (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lightning#Sprites).

With the rising of the morning sun, we had a good view of the mountain range east of Santiago, and a smooth descent into the airport.

Upon arrival, we were met by representatives of Agunsa, the company supporting our travel through Chile. Jimmy and Jose were ever helpful as we stumbled through the airport crowds. They helped us find a Starbucks and an Internet access point. We are now relaxing with coffee and getting a few last minute images of our survey site (provided by Bryan Blair of the NASA LVIS IceBridge project).

We leave for Punta Arenas is in a few hours, and we’re looking forward to getting a break from air travel.

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Dallas-Fort Worth Airport

December 1, 2009

Rob writes:

Ted and I have completed the second leg of our journey. (The first leg was a drive from Boulder to the Denver International Airport, courtesy of our dedicated colleague and friend, Jenn Bohlander—thanks Jenn!) Speaking of legs of our journey, we still have a few more to go: Dallas to Santiago, Chile, then Santiago to Punta Arenas, Chile. From Punta Arenas we cross the Drake Passage to Rothera Station on Adelaide Island, and then we have one more flight to the Beta site where we’ll establish our base camp. From here, the planes get smaller and smaller (Boeing 777 to Santiago, Embraer to Punta Arenas, DeHaviland Dash-7 to Rothera, and finally a ski–equipped Twin Otter to our camp site to conduct the study).

We flew to Dallas on American Airlines, and we’re now waiting to board our plane to Santiago, Chile. Ted and I changed a few dollars into Chilean pesos: $54.00 is about 24,000 Chilean pesos,  so we have an impressive stack of 1000-peso bills.

As we travel, we’re still working on final preparations. We’re laying out our initial plans and going through our lists of equipment one more time. We also managed to look at a few images of our field site while on the plane.  We’ve just had a chat with Erin Pettit, another member of our field team, and she is ready to depart Alaska for Punta Arenas. We hope to see her by Thursday.

We’ll check in from Punta Arenas with an update and a few photos.

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