I have returned from Antarctica. Here’s the last report of what was a very busy last week!!
1. Work continues to the very end!
We continued to work right up to the very end of our deployment. With a break in the weather, we were able to travel to several AWS sites including Alexander Tall Tower! AWS, which is a nearly 100-foot-tall station with 6 levels of weather observing. The station has been slowly getting buried into the snow…its less than 88 feet tall now. Next year we’ll have to raise it up. We also visited Minna Bluff AWS to prevent it from falling over. The rime ice formations there this year have been just tremendous!! The weather station had nearly toppled over with the base of the station nearly kicking out. With some hard work, we now have a well anchored weather station at Minna Bluff, and we even dug out the old anchors for removal next season. On our last day, we finally got some new sensors installed at our testing location at Willie Field AWS and even a new test system installed as well!! It was a busy, busy end of the field season. You can’t leave until you clean up, so we had a full day of packing up our gear, cleaning the lab where we did our work, and we even vacuumed out our dorm room!
At McMurdo Station, we are always among friends. Beyond a great group of folks to work with throughout the station, I brought a great team with me from Madison College and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. We also found many other folks around the station who are from both schools! Wisconsin has had a great and long-standing tie to the Antarctic. The roots of our project go back many decades as Antarctic meteorology has been an area of study for many years here in Madison.
3. The Vehicles in Antarctica
I’ve included a series of photos of the transportation means we had access to in Antarctica. There are tracked vehicles, helicopters, fixed-winged aircraft, and many others that are used all around the station. I think the most iconic is Ivan the Terra bus – the main mode of transportation from the airfield to McMurdo Station proper.
4. Chapel of the Snows and Roll Cage Mary
The last Sunday before I left Antarctica, I visited both the Chapel at McMurdo Station as well as a statue of Saint Mary, we affectionately call “Roll Cage Mary”. The Chapel has been a place of worship by many faith traditions over the years as well as a gathering place for other meetings and events. The reason we call the statue of Saint Mary “Roll Cage Mary” is that there is a protective metal grid around it to protect it from ice and rocks that blow around in high wind conditions. This is located on a trail system that has been established around McMurdo Station, where you can hike around.
After a solid month in Antarctica, it was time to say goodbye. While it was wonderful to be in Antarctica, it is great to get back home and back to family. I have a fisheye lens like photo of the C-17 aircraft I left on. The US Air Force helps out as a part of the US Antarctic Program to move people and cargo to and from Antarctica.
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