Mark and I have hit a pretty good string of flying since I last updated you all. Since White Island AWS, we have flown to 5 other AWS: Cape Hallet (for the second time), Emilia, Vito, Ferrell and Margaret. Some of these AWS need to be visited again, however, so not all of the work is done yet. In this post I’ll give a brief summary of each visit.
On Friday, 6 November, we flew with 3 boondogglers to Cape Hallett AWS. (For those who don’t know, boondogglers are people who come along on our flights to either help us do some work or just to enjoy the trip. Most boondogglers are those who rarely get to go out of town, so any flight for them is a treat. These boondogglers got spoiled because they got to go to such a beautiful place!) As I mentioned in a previous post, we needed to go back to Cape Hallett to update the program that was loaded on the data logger. In our testing in the lab, we also used a new, improved modem, so we installed that one at Cape Hallett. Everything is running properly now!
The next day, 7 November, we flew to Emilia and Vito AWS via Twin Otter. These AWS are on the Ross Ice Shelf, fairly close to each other, and only about an hour from McMurdo. The trip was relatively quick. At Emilia, we swapped out aerovanes. After that we flew to Vito and power cycled it because it hadn’t been transmitting. That didn’t work, so we removed the electronics box to bring back to the lab so we could troubleshoot.
The next working day, Monday 9 November, we flew helo to Ferrell AWS. Here we raised the station by adding a new tower section and moving most of the instrumentation higher up on the tower. We did not bring a new data card to swap out from the data logger (which stores all of the data collected at the station [there isn’t enough bandwidth to transmit it all via Argos]) so we will need to swing by the AWS later in the season to do that.
Flying to Ferrell had marked our 4th day of flying in 5 work days. It is excellent to get out in the field that often, but also tiring. We had the next two days off to rest and regroup.
Yesterday, Thursday 12 November, we flew Twin Otter to Margaret AWS. Margaret is on the opposite side of the Ross Ice Shelf from McMurdo and is about a 2 and a half hour flight. The weather is notoriously poor in that area, so we were thrilled to get the opportunity to fly.
Like Ferrell, Margaret needed to be raised. Due to the raise, we either needed to dig up the existing batteries that we buried in the snow or install a new power system. The battery cables in the existing system would not extend far enough for the raise, and we didn’t have any extensions.
We first added a new tower section, then decided to try to dig out the existing batteries. It turns out they were about 8 feet below snow surface, and there were 3 boxes to retrieve. That was way too much work than we could afford to do, in terms of time and energy. We installed the new power system, and everything worked like a charm.