Posts Tagged ‘Waiting’


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.


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


Stuck on Flask Glacier

February 3, 2010

Ted writes (via Iridium modem):

The LARISSA glaciology team flew to its highest-priority glacier site, Flask Glacier, four days ago during a brief spell of clear weather. Although the forecast was dicey, the pilot spotted clear sky over our site while flying to the ice core drill camp (Site Beta) earlier in the afternoon. As soon as he arrived back in Rothera, we loaded our camp gear and three of us (Erin, Martin, and Ted) flew out to prepare the camp. The idea was that the second flight, carrying the science equipment for a GPS installation, would follow immediately.

But when we arrived, a low fog was rolling up the glacier from the coast. Like a gray carpet being rolled out, lumps of cloud bumbled in, inexorably covering our site and pushing up-glacier. The pilot landed us as close as he could, with the thought that we could report the weather first-hand the next morning and get an early flight.

Since then, the fog has been relentless, bringing a listless snow and a total grey-out. In the thirty minutes after we landed, we reveled in the spectacular scenery of the site near the uppermost end of the glacier. That seems like a distant memory now. Our world is 200 yards across, extending just beyond our camp boxes at one end, and the radio wires at the other. As for the scenery, we could be anywhere on Earth–anywhere with deep snow on the ground. We’ve seen the sun just a few times, as a glowing pale ball behind thick clouds.

Worse yet, the radar system, the one bit of science gear we fit in on the first flight, the one that performed so well at Site Beta, is having problems. We’ve done a couple of surveys, but can’t measure the depth of the ice here just yet.

We’re truly living through the movie “Ground-Hog Day.” Every day is the same, but we keep trying small adjustments to make it a tiny bit better. Then we wake up the next morning, and it starts all over again.

Our food has been pretty good. Last night we had Thai red curry on tuna with brown rice, tonight red beans and rice with some canned stew, but the gloom of doing next to nothing for four days is starting to eat away at our optimism, and we have a lot left to do. We’re now so well-prepared that we could do it in record time, but we still need some kind of break in this weather. On the radio, we hear that the ship is also struggling with ice and low clouds.

As for Ronald and Terry, the rest of our team, well, they are just whooping it up in Rothera, I suppose, partying their brains out, feasting on cooked food, and showering at will (the nerve). They’re probably even eating fresh fruit.

From left: Martin Truffer, Erin Pettit, and Ted Scambos kill time in the tent while waiting for a break in the weather.


Waiting for flying weather

December 5, 2009

Ted, Rob, and Erin write:

We had another flight delay today, because of poor flying conditions along our route. We will try again Sunday for a flight to Rothera Station and we hope to hit the ground running when we arrive. At Rothera Stations, we need to test the radar equipment, look over the field equipment, and help load our cargo into the ski plane.

In the meantime, we decided to explore a bit of the local countryside and rented an auto for a short back road tour. As luck would have it, we not only found a spectacular vista, but also stumbled across a great spot to have a meal and good conversation: Estancia Rio Verde. Estancio Rio Verde is located northwest of Punta Arenas, on the shore of the Skyring Sound. Many thanks to our new friends, Fernanda and Rodrigo, who offered good food and good conversation.

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