Posts Tagged ‘Rothera’

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Penguin at Rothera

November 17, 2010

The team is still waiting at Rothera for weather to clear up. In the meantime, Jenn’s roommate at base shares a photo of the lone Emperor Penguin that waddled up toward Rothera yesterday.

A lone emporer penguin visits Rothera Station on the Antarctic Peninsula. Photo courtesy Erica Di Lena


 

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Still waiting

November 16, 2010

Martin writes:

When I was thinking about the timing on this trip to the Peninsula, I imagined us sitting in the Rothera bar by this time, telling tall tales about the big snow pit we had dug. With every beer the pit would get a bit deeper, and the weather a bit nastier, but us Antarctic explorers prevailed, rescuing the AMIGOS and pushing the frontiers of science by another nanometer.

Instead we are still waiting to get off the ground. The daily routine is pretty repetitive. Ted gets up in the morning and looks out the window. “It looks a bit better today”. That means you can see the next building now. Full of hope for what this day will bring we drag ourselves to breakfast. Ted sometimes joins the morning weather briefing, where decisions about the day’s flights are made. I see him come into the breakfast room with the look of a rejected suitor, and no more questions need to be asked.

The rest of the day we spent in our office room catching up with things left unfinished before leaving on the trip south. Ted obsessively downloads weather forecast maps: “Look, there is a weather window of 2.3 hours on December 23. I’m sure we’ll make it.”

Jenn is trying to be productive and make the best of the situation. She regularly talks to school kids back home, so she decided to go around and figure out what various people do on base. She got us a guided tour to the marine lab yesterday, which was pretty cool. They have an aquarium with a variety of sea spiders, clams, sea stars, etc. Mostly they look at the impact of climate change, and how these guys react to warming water. They have nice laboratory facilities for dissecting, cooking or whatever else biologists subject their critters to. The most amazing thing though is that they have a regular year-round diving program, which comes with its special challenges in the icy water.

Yesterday we had a visitor. A lonely Emperor Penguin showed up. It’s the largest of the penguins, and they don’t usually make it to Rothera. Apparently they get one or two a year, so people are excited. Penguins are just always a lot of fun to watch.

A lone Emperor Penguin pays a visit to Rothera Station. Photo courtesy Martin Truffer.

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Storm at Rothera Station

November 12, 2010

Ted, Martin, and Jennifer are still stuck at Rothera Station, waiting out a strong storm. Once the weather clears, they will fly out to the field to work on the AMIGOS stations.

Wind and snow have kept flights grounded at Rothera Station for the past week. Photo courtesy Jennifer Bohlander

 

 

 

 

The sun dips down near the horizon at 11pm last night. Photo courtesy Jennifer Bohlander

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Jennifer at snow school: part 2

November 10, 2010

Jenn writes:

The reason I have time to write so much today is that there is a terrible storm at Rothera today: windy and snowing.  None of the research planes can fly, and since that’s what we need to get our work done, we just have to sit and wait.  I’m thankful I’m doing this waiting at the base however and not in a tent.

So continuing on with snow school.  After retrieving Mark, we had to go back down to the base to gather our gear for the overnight portion of our training.  We loaded up our stuff and went about four kilometers away from the base.  The four of us got on the back of two skidoos that would take us up to the campsite.  The skidoo I was on was also towing a sled with all our sleep gear, which is important to note because on the way up the slope the sled tipped and some of our stuff fell out and starting sliding down the slope.  Our poor instructor had to go chase after it because there were dangerous areas on the slope.  So we got up there and started to set up two tents that sleep two people.  The tents are large heavy tents, not the kind you would backpack with.  Anyway, at about this point I realize, “I’m going to have to sleep in a tent with one of these guys.”  Another thing to mention is there was no place to go to the bathroom up there, not even the bucket that I will have available when we get to our research site.  So I was thinking it’s a very good thing I packed my GoGirl for this overnight trip. However, when I came up with my brilliant GoGirl plan I never factored in a man sitting in the tent next to me.

At the site, the wind was blowing very hard in short gusts and sometimes it came from one direction and then the next time it came from another direction.  Our task was to put some tents up without any part of them blowing away.  After we got the tents up we went into the trailer they have set up to have a cup of tea. In the trailer, Ben taught us about lighting the stove and lantern that we would have in our tents.  Then wind was blowing so hard outside that something from our gear flew by and Ben had to go get it.  I was thinking this poor guy must be so exhausted. He had been teaching us non-stop since 9:00 this morning and it was about 7:30, and now he had to go out chasing our gear.  After our tea we learned how to use the radio. We practiced talking back to Rothera Station to let them know we were okay.  I felt like reporting back, “I need to pee Rothera, got a solution for that?”

After radio it’s on to the tents and here is where Ben tried to get past the awkward part that one of those guys had to share a tent with the girl.  Two of the men were already kind of chummy, so they defaulted to each other, and that left poor Mark with me–Mark who I pulled off the mountain. I can’t really imagine what this kid was thinking, but I was thinking, “I still have to pee.” We got in our tent and set up our sleeping stuff and our stove and all.  Then we boiled some water to make our food, which is called “man food.” They call it “man food” to distinguish it from “dog food,” a remnant from when people used to bring dogs down here.  The bag of “man food” I had was vegetable casserole and the package read, “Best if used before 08/2006.” Very excited to have dinner, but I still had to pee.

To make “man food” you boil water and add it to a bag, seal the bag, and wait a few minutes.  I have to admit it wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever eaten. After dinner Mark said he was going out to go to the bathroom and I then had to tell this 23 year old boy that I have a bottle and a GoGirl and I’m going to take this opportunity to do the same.  He says “Okay, I’ll ask you if you are ready before I come back in.” Awkward! I was thankful to have the GoGirl though because the wind was still raging and I didn’t want to go outside and pull my pants down on this large flat expanse where we were camping–nowhere to hide!

Camping wasn’t too bad.  That lantern kept the tent warm and my sleep gear was pretty good.  In the morning it was cold and of course windy and I woke up pretty early and had to, you guessed it, pee again. So then I had to wait until Mark woke up, which seemed like an eternity, and wait for him to go outside again. Thankfully when we are in the field doing our work I have my own tent and can go whenever I want.

In the morning we packed up and started back to base.  This time not only did our gear flip going down the slope, but the skidoo flipped!  Before I knew it I did a flip in the air and landed facing the skidoo. The other guy on the back of the skidoo got his leg hit with the tow bar and he was in some pain.  I was just amazed by the acrobatic feat I retrieved from my past to help me avoid getting pinned under the skidoo.  Ben felt pretty bad about the whole thing, this poor guy, I can’t believe he has to go though this every time new inexperienced people come to the station. He has incredible patience, I would have lost it!

When we got back I found out that Ted, Martin, and I cannot be flown out to our site today.  This is not good news because the longer it takes for us to get out it potentially effects how long we will be here.  The planes are unable to fly in bad weather.  There is a very large storm going on today and it looks like we can’t fly until possibly Saturday!

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Jennifer at snow school

November 10, 2010

Jenn writes:

I woke up Sunday morning and reported to snow school.  This is where they teach me how to live out in the field and save someone if something happens.  There are four of us in the class, three men and myself.  Our instructor, Ben, starts us off with putting up a basic tent and getting equipment to sleep on in the field.  I got my sleep gear issued from the US program while I was in Punta Arenas, but I watched the other guys get all their gear.  I have to say I was really shocked at how much warm comfortable stuff they get to go into the deep field:

US sleep kit (mine): foam pad, Therm-a-Rest pad, sleeping bag (a zero degree bag, which I thought “what the hell, it gets well below zero”), and a fleece liner.

British program: foam pad, Therm-a-Rest pad, some kind of shag carpet looking sheep skin thing, fleece liner (a thick one), and a great sleeping bag that cost like three times as much as the REI one I was issued.

We were all talking about the differences between the gear, and Ben said, “Maybe it’s because you Americans are so much tougher then us Brits.” I promptly corrected him and said, “No it’s either because we are just not as smart, or we’re cheap, or probably a little bit of both.”

After this, we got our climbing gear together to go learn crevasse rescue.  A crevasse is basically an opening in the snow that may or my not be visible.  If you fall in one it’s bad because sometimes they are VERY deep.  So if you are going walking around on the ice, you need to be roped up to one another.  Anyway we head out up over this hill that’s by the base to this area that has a cornice, which is like a shelf of snow hanging over a cliff.  So Ben proceeds to show us everything you have to do to save a person who falls into a crevasse (we just used the cliff for demonstration, and stuffed a duffel bag full of snow for the person).  Since I’ve never actually seen a great climber do all this stuff first-hand Ben is now the coolest person I’ve ever met, and he does it all with a British accent, which makes it even better.

After lunch we head back up the cliff and Ben asks this guy Mark, who is also in the class if he wouldn’t mind hanging over the cliff for a while.  He says he doesn’t mind, and then I jokingly say, “And I’ll save you.” Ben says, “That’s right you are going to save him because you need to learn this stuff for when you leave for the field.”

So the first thing I have to learn is how to use and ice ax to actually stop Mark when he falls into the crevasse.  I actually have to stop us both because when he goes over his weight is going to take me with him.  So Ben is tied up to me and we practice this by him just pulling me down the hill and I have to stop myself.  What you do here is you have your ice ax in one hand and when you start to slide (which comes on quite fast) you have to flip around, face the mountain, jam the shaft of the ax into the snow, and hold onto the top to stop yourself.  Ben and I tried it a few times and I didn’t do great but I managed to stop myself. However, you want to try and do it really fast because the longer it takes for you to stop the further down the crevasse your partner goes, and if you don’t do it quickly enough then you fall down the crevasse too and you are then both screwed.

Ben says “Okay, now we are going to try it with Mark.” My thought, or I might have said it out loud was, “You’ve gotta be  kidding me!.” Ben says, “You’ll do fine, and I’ll be tied to you and I can stop both of you from falling if I have to.”  So I look at this Mark guy and I say,  “Are you okay with this?” He says he is, and I think, “You’ve got to be on drugs if you think I’m going to be able to stop you.” Now I’m pretty freaked out but I have to do it, so here we go.  Mark is walking off toward the end of the cliff and Ben is reminding me that once I stop him I have to take this little rope loop (it has a name I just can’t remember) that is attached to me and wrap it around the ice ax to take the weight off my upper body.  So I give myself a little pep talk and, oh no, there goes Mark over the cliff. I turned around so fast and jammed that ax into the ground and used all the strength I had in my stringy arms, and to my surprise, I stopped him quite quickly. Ben then comes to help me remember what to do to secure Mark and then we go down near the edge to check on him. There he is just hanging and then Ben looks at me and says, “Okay, lets go pull him up.”  I say “okay,” but what I really meant to say was “no way.” So we set up this pulley system with all this climbing gear and then I’m supposed to be able to just pull him.  This guy wasn’t a huge guy, maybe 160-170 pounds, but honestly, the concept that I can pull this guy up is just not mathematically solid to me.  I start to pull and I’m really making no headway since I’m standing in slippery snow.  Ben says, “Turn around and just dig your boots in and start walking up the hill.” (Easier said than done, Ben).  I turn around and I think my shear will to be done with this exercise gave me the strength to climb up.  It took everything I had and at one time I was practically crawling up this mountain.  But I did it.  I pulled Mark up.  By far the hardest thing I had to do in my life ever, even harder then advanced calculus.

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Arrival at Rothera

November 8, 2010

Jenn writes:

So after working for Ted for fourteen years and nagging him relentlessly to take me to Antarctica I finally arrived at Rothera Station yesterday evening.  Seeing pictures in no way can compare to seeing it in person, and I was absolutely blown away by the scenery when I got off the plane. I was also quite excited to get off the plane because the heater on the plane we took from Punta Arenas was broken, so it was much warmer outside then it was on the plane ride.  I could actually feel my feet thawing out as we descended in elevation.

Weddell seals lounge in the water near Rothera Station

After we settled in our rooms we had to rush off to Saturday night dinner, which is an event at Rothera. They ask you to dress a little nicer, clean up a bit, they put nice table cloths down, and your meal is served to you.  The food was very good, and they had a vegetarian meal for me, which I was very thankful for after spending almost a week in Punta Arenas.  It’s very meaty there.

Sunday I went on a walk around the island with a few other people who are new to Rothera.  The scenery was again, amazing, and there were Weddell Seals all along the walk, however no penguins, which my daughter will be very disappointed about.  She really wants me to return home with a picture of a penguin. It’s still early in the trip so hopefully I can do that for her.

Tomorrow I will go to snow school, which I’m sure some of my co-workers at NSIDC will have a hard time envisioning me doing.  Hopefully it will teach me some valuable things because, quite honestly, I’m not sure Ted or Martin have any confidence that I’ll be able to save them if the situation arises–I can’t really blame them though.

Also a note to our NSIDC co-workers, Ted and I are getting along surprising well, although Martin might think otherwise, we are actually still speaking civilly to one another.  Anyone who has ever listened to a conversation between Ted and I will understand how sometimes we can speak to each other with a bit of an edge.  So far so good, but we haven’t been out in the field yet.

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Palmer to Palmer

February 24, 2010

Ted writes:

The LARISSA Glaciology Team made its way back to the RV Nathaniel B. Palmer, in two unusual leaps.

After getting picked up from Scar Inlet, we landed in Rothera Station, in the southern end of the Peninsula. We knew that if we wanted to get anything further done, we needed to get back aboard the ship. We had installed everything we had brought on Flask Glacier and Scar Inlet. We still needed to fix the SCAR inlet Web cam, and install a seismic listening station for glacier calving, and the ridge-top high-resolution AMIGOS camera. And time was running out: it was now February 17, and the Palmer would head north no later than the 26th.

The team saw these crabeater seals during a boat ride near Rothera Station.

As usual, the staff at Rothera were amazingly generous, taking us on an evening boat tour of some nearby islands while we waited for good weather for the next step. The boat ride was spectacular. Every shoal and beach teemed with wildlife.

The next day was February 18, my birthday. Not a birthday present in sight, but I thought if we could get back to the ship, well, I’d take it as a sign from The Big Guy that I was doing okay by him (or her). That morning, the Twin Otter pilot gave us some cause for hope. His plan was to fly us to Palmer Station, the U.S. base, and have us wait there for a helo pick-up from the ship. The only trick was the runway at Palmer, set on a small ice cap behind the base. The ice has been badly eroded by the warming climate in recent years. It has rarely been used since 1990, and in fact the only landing in years was a medical evacuation in 2009. I was thinking how ironic it would be if I were the first casualty of Antarctic global warming.

We flew between the bases (song: “The Blue Danube“) over the icebound landscape. Though every glance out the window was a masterpiece of landscape art, we at this point were able to read or nap as the dramatic sculpted architecture of the continent rolled beneath us.

And then we saw the “runway.” It was the most rutted, cracked-up, slush-pit of a glacier I’d ever seen. It was sloped, with the end of it as steep as a ski run, leading straight to a boulder field. The line of runway marker flags looked like some kind of practical joke. Even more humorous, the flags were numbered, in descending order, like a countdown in some movie thriller, “Four-hundred meters to self-destruct.”

A crowd from the station had gathered, taking bets no doubt on whether or not we would survive. But they picked the wrong pilot to mess with. Richie circled once, and then slapped the plane down on the uppermost third of the bobsled run—I mean runway—and then threw the prop into reverse (Amazing fact: on a taxi-way, Twin Otters can actually back up under their own power). We bounced to a stop, not quite crossing the “6” on the doom countdown.

The Palmer people (total population 38) were really welcoming. But I was shocked when Ronald pointed out a “Happy Birthday” banner in the galley. As it happened, February 18 was also the birthday for the Palmer Station chef, Staci, and the back-up chef, Diane, had gone all out for a celebration dinner and cake. All I had to do was shout “and Ted!” at the right moment in the birthday song. We had a fun night at the Palmer bar and hot tub.

The team caught a ride from Palmer Station back to the the N.B. Palmer aboard the research vessel Lawrence M. Gould.

At Palmer Station, we noticed a large orange ship parked in front of the base. This was the RV Lawrence M. Gould, the other major U.S. polar research vessel, used mostly for oceanography around the continent. We learned that the ship was basically on stand-by for an entire month with little to do. We hatched a plan.

We pulled away from the pier on the afternoon of February 20th, with a thousand pounds of gear strapped to the deck of our new water-taxi, the Gould. Officially, the Gould was out to replenish its water tanks (it desalinates the sea-water) and pick up some devices for sediment studies from the Palmer. But for the five us, it was one fine ride.

This was my third birthday in Antarctica. So I guess I’m 3 in Antarctica years. Looking at the photo on our way out of Palmer, Martin informed me that Antarctica years seem to be a bit more taxing than even dog years. But as the two ships met up, at sunset in a coastal fjord, it seemed as if things were proceeding nicely for this toddler.

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Rothera tour and Palmer visit

January 29, 2010

Ted writes:

The group took a tour of the island that Rothera lies on, which is rich with polar marine wildlife. As we described in December, Rothera is a medium-large base with generally about a hundred people there. The key is that it has both a good gravel runway and a pier for ships, making it a logistical hub for the region.

Our science liason with BAS, Tamsin Gray, offered to lead us on the trail to the north, along the rock and pebble beach there. It was a living nature park; penguins, sea birds, and several kinds of seals.  Adelies like to dance, Tamsin explained, fur seals are grouchy, and Weddell and Crabeater seals seem to be smug and puppy-like.

The ship, the N.B. Palmer was on its way to Rothera, to drop off our gear after our pull-out from the ice core camp, fuel up,  and drop off Martin Truffer, the missing member of the ice team. Our plan for deploying the AMIGOS and other sensors will be done by more Twin Otter flights, allowing the ship to move to the east side and spend much of that time working southward toward the Larsen B,  where were supposed to have been all along. It’s been quite a trip so far.

By noon, we could see the ship in the distance, and by 1:30 it was approaching the quay at Rothera, with most of its crew and staff standing on the deck waving. We held a planning meeting for the science, and a planning meeting for the Rotherites and Palmerainians. The idea was to give Palmer a taste of shore life, especially a taste at the tiny pub in Rothera’s main building. It was very successful.

Erin’s bike was on the ship, so she went for an evening bike ride before saying goodbye to it for a while. The Palmer departed at midnight with a happy glow surrounding it.

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48 hours on the ice

January 28, 2010

The LARISSA team flew to Site Beta, Ellen Mosely-Thompson's ice core camp, to install an AMIGOS station.

Ted writes: The day after our first attempt to get in to the Peninsula ridge crest, we awoke to a near perfect morning, a clear and bracing breeze blowing across Barilari Bay (Chocolate bar is claimed, it is pronounced bari-LAR-i, in other words, Italian style). The promising weather brought early wake up calls and some fast preparations to the whole crew. By 6 a.m. the ship was wide awake and moving ahead with helo ops. We mapped out a very full day, to take advantage of the weather. We would install our first AMIGOS at Site Beta, the ice core camp of Dr. Ellen Mosely-Thompson, where we surveyed in December. Then we planned a reconnaissance flight of the next three sites on the glaciers feeding the Larsen Ice Shelf. After that, we would try to install the GPS site on one of them (Leppard). We had a brief delay, though, because the weather at the ice core site still had not cleared by 7 a.m. It was surprising, because we could see such a good sky above them. By 8 a.m., though, the camp manager, Thai Verzone, gave us a better than even chance of getting in. We took it.

The grease ice, or very thin frazil ice, in Barilari Bay, gives the water a shiny luster.

The climb off the ship was a rush; it always is. Usually a song pops into my head on take-off (like ‘Back in the USSR’ by the Beatles), but this time it was a poem: High Flight, by John G. Magee. And our day matched the words: clouds and sky and swooping, flowing, frozen terrain, things you have not dreamed of. The sun glinted off the water. A freezing slurry of ice crystals forming on the surface gave it a surreal appearance. We charged upward, needing altitude to reach the ice camp, through a glacier we called The Gateway. (Yes, I’m a professional glaciologist. No, I don’t know its name. There are 160,000 of them. Some of the names have slipped by.) It was covered with cracks and crevasses, written there by the churning and grinding forces that move the ice. At the top, one last, broad semicircular crack, a bergschrund, marked the start of the ridge plateau.

The helicopter flew over this glacier on the way up Site Beta.

On the narrow ridge of the Antarctic Peninsula, we felt like we had left Earth behind and arrived on an ice planet. Within about ten minutes, we could begin to see a scattering of specks on the snow so small: a working science town of six, 150 miles from the nearest permanent base. Dr Ellen Mosely-Thompson, the pixie-like director of the Byrd Polar Research, and Thai Verzone, cheery and linebacker-sized, greeted us as we landed. I hugged Ellen, and felt as if I nearly broke her. Then Thai hugged me and I knew what that felt like.

Ellen has been pursuing climate records of Antarctica for a good while now, and she is dead set on getting the past few thousand years’ record from this site. The Peninsula is warming rapidly because of global climate change. How does this cycle of human-caused climate change differ from those warmings and coolings of past millennia? She hopes the answer lies here.

Researchers discuss how to un-stick the ice core drill, inside the dome tent.

Two large tents dominate the camp: the dome, where the drilling happens, and the cook tent, where the eating happens. In Antarctica, the two require almost equal amounts of time, with sleeping coming in third sometimes.

Erin and I walked over for a look inside the dome. Inside were Ellen’s colleagues, Victor Zagorodnov and Vladimir Mikhalenko, two Russian  and Ukrainian scientist-engineers who know ice coring the way Stradivarius knew violins. As we stepped in, a strong smell of ethanol assailed us. They are using the fluid to keep the cold, deep core hole open against the tendency of ice to flow. The core was temporarily stuck, at 380 meters, and it was impressive to hear Victor and Vladimir discuss ideas for clearing it. Remember, we are in the middle of nowhere.

Ellen Mosely-Thompson, Erin Pettit, and Thai Verzone

“We could make a tubing for antifreeze by stripping the insulation off an extension cord, Vladimir.”

“Yes, Victor, and then perhaps the bailer could be re-configured to deliver the antifreeze with a weight and nail that would puncture it just above the drill head.”

In fact, the whole team was working the issue. Benjamin Vincencio is a Peruvian scientist who has worked with the Thompsons for many years, and Roberto Fillippi is an Italian graduate student on his first trip to the ice.

Adjoining the dome tent, sunk into the snow, is the accumulated 380 meters of time in a bottle, the ice cores that record nearly every detail of the areas past climate.

We heard a helicopter approach again. Ronald and Terry had arrived to build the AMIGOS system. But stepping outside, we saw that the weather was declining. Terry and Ronald got right to work on the tower, thinking that we were going to get this in just under the wire. In fact, the wire had already swept past, with the ship and the ridge-top coming under increasing cloud and wind. Not terrible, but cloudy and frosty, with an ice fog and temperatures of about 10 degrees F.

We realized we would have to spend the night. The weather at Site Beta has been notoriously bad since December, when we were stuck in our tents waiting for pick-up. It could be ten days before a weather window that included the ship and the ridge-top site occurred again. Was the ship going to be pinned in Barilari Bay for ten days, waiting to fly us out? That would be a huge amount of resources to tie up. Not to mention boring the heck out of 44 of the worlds best polar scientists.

Ellen Mosely-Thompson provided tents and sleeping bags for the visitors.

We had minimal gear, just the survival bags that NSF issues anyone going into the field. But one of the keys to building a great survival bag is that you don’t want people using it unless the alternative is not surviving. So the gear is pretty light and simple. Fortunately, the camp had spare tents and gear. In fact, it was the bundled-up camp that Erin and I had worked from in December. By afternoon, Erin and Thai had set up a new suburb of Beta City, three tents and sleeping bags inside, for the four of us. Martin had stayed on the ship to organize the aborted follow-on installations.

We had a fun afternoon, snow falling, puttering away on the AMIGOS tower, snacking, chatting with the drill team. Dinner was a very international thing: Russian jokes, American jokes, Peruvian jokes, Girls on Ice jokes, and Swiss jokes (don’t tell Martin).

When not in the dome tent drilling ice cores, Ellen Mosely-Thompson's team spends much of its time in the cook tent.

But we were concerned about what we were going to do. Another day passed, and the weather was still bad. The helo pilots managed to fit in one flight, bringing up the main contractor from the ship for a look around; but it lasted just twenty minutes, in weather that was near impossible. Later, another pull-out was scheduled, but conditions were terrible: at one point, we saw the underside of the helicopter passing overhead, but it couldn’t land. We could stay for an extended time, there was plenty of food and fuel, but we would be unable to work on anything, and we would be holding up the ship.

We came up with a plan for a pull-out of ice core by Twin Otter (an aircraft  a two-engine delivery truck with wings) based in Rothera, a British base about 150 miles to the south. Could we go to Rothera and free up the ship to sail north to biological sites and use the T/O to do our installation work from Rothera?  We began making calls (on Iridium) and emails (on digital Iridiums).

The next day brought beautiful conditions to Site Beta, a rare day indeed. But the ship was totally socked in. No final word yet on our Twin Otter plan, but a Twin Otter was already on the way, to take ice cores to the Rothera freezer.

Terry Haran smiles after "body surfing" the Bruce Plateau.

Erin and Terry did a last re-survey, to ensure we had good GPS topography data of the region. Erin drove, and Terry rode along to hold the GPS upright. But in blue-sky, sunny, dry snow conditions, any outing is a joy ride. “I body surfed the Bruce Plateau!” Terry said.

We asked for space on board and in exchange for five boxes of time coming out, there was enough room for us. We flew. On laughter-silvered wings.

Ronald Ross, Erin Pettit, Ted Scambos, and Terry Haran squeezed into a Twin Otter for a flight from Site Beta to Rothera Station.

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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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