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Seals seize bridge

December 18, 2012

Terry writes:

Tue 12/11: After the event yesterday, I decided to replace the ten AMIGOS3 (Flask Glacier) and ten AMIGOS4 (Scar Inlet) images acquired at both sites at 17:00 UTC (14:00 Rothera) with ten images acquired at 11:00 UTC (08:00 Rothera). Although these 11:00 UTC images wouldn’t show up in Rothera until after the pilot’s weather briefing at 07:45, they would still be useful as a verification of any previously reached decision whether to fly or not to fly to the Larsen B region.

Thu 12/13: Daniel Farinotti and Ash Fusiarski returned last night from their camp at Starbuck Glacier after a two week stay. They collected almost 200 km of radar data. Meanwhile I’m still waiting for a weather window for another return to Cape Disappointment and/or Leppard Glacier.

An elephant seal has parked himself on a short bridge over a utility coduit between Admiral House and New Bransfield.

An elephant seal has parked himself on a short bridge over a utility coduit between Admiral House and New Bransfield.

The seal's presence forces gators to make a detour.

The seal’s presence forces gators to make a detour.

Builder Jim Scott confronts the seal, which wasn't intimidated enough to allow passage.

Builder Jim Scott confronts the seal, which wasn’t intimidated enough to allow passage.

Sun 12/16: Cloudy weather over the Larsen B region has prevented any flights since Daniel and Ash returned last Wednesday. I spent the day preparing a set of AMIGOS-6 and LPRT cGPS installation instructions for Tamsin Gray and Chris Buckley, who have graciously offered to perform the the work in case I am unable to get a flight before I have to leave on Thursday.

Mon 12/17: Not flying today due to cloud layer over Scar Inlet creating a low contrast surface. AMIGOS images showed evidence of clearing to the northwest, but satellite images showed the band of clear skies closing rapidly. Will try again Tue and Wed. AMIGOS-6/LPRD training session for Tamsin and Chris scheduled for Tuesday (if I don’t fly). Still scheduled to leave Rothera for Punta Arenas on Thursday.

An attempt to keep elephant seals off the bridge by parking an empty trailer on it has failed. Now instead of a single seal, there bridge has been claimed by as many as three or four at a time.

An attempt to keep elephant seals off the bridge by parking an empty trailer on it has failed. Now instead of a single seal, the bridge is claimed by as many as three or four at a time.

Tue 12/18: Unable to fly today due to a layer of cloud at 10,000 feet over Scar Inlet thick enough to reduce surface contrast just enough to make it not flyable to Cape Disappointment. But Daniel and Ash flew to Flask Glacier (for which AMIGOS-3 showed better contrast than AMIGOS-4 on Scar Inlet) to do their final radar work. Trained Tamsin and Chris today on AMIGOS-6 and LPRD work, and am confident they can probably do a better job than me due to their extensive experience maintaining BAS automatic weather stations. Decent chance of flying tomorrow to Cape Disappointment and possibly on to Leppard Glacier.

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