Hello again! I’m back on the ice for another fun-filled, busy, and cold Antarctic field season. I arrived here late in the evening yesterday, 17 December, at 8:45 pm. I came with a couple new helpers to the Automatic Weather Station program: Carol Costanza, whom I work with at the Antarctic Meteorological Research Center, and Elin McIlhattan, a grad student in Atmospheric Science at UW-Madison and soon-to-be Master of Science! Carol will be posting some blog updates of her own, so look out for those! The three of us will be joining Lee Welhouse, who has been down here with Drew Slater from the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado. Drew left the ice earlier this week after helping Lee out for about a month and a half with field work. You can find his blog about his experiences here: http://penguinchasing.blogspot.com/ Thanks for your efforts, Drew! Your work is much appreciated, and your blog is fantastic!
Elin will be down here to assist Lee with fieldwork in West Antarctica, at the field camp at WAIS (West Antarctic Ice Sheet). There they will be installing two new stations, and completing maintenance to existing stations in the area.
Carol and I will be going to South Pole station shortly after the new year to do a complete instrument swap-out on two AWS, Henry and Nico. I’m really looking forward to getting to the true bottom of the Earth!
When the four of us are in McMurdo, we will be doing helicopter work when we can, to complete maintenance and checkups to our AWS in the McMurdo region. Some of these visits will simply be checkups, some will be instrument swap-outs, and at least one, Laurie II, will be a long-deserved station raise.
So, let’s switch gears a bit and summarize the flights from the United States to McMurdo, Antarctica. Carol, Elin and I met up in Dallas, TX to fly to Los Angeles, CA. From there, we flew across the Pacific Ocean on the 14-hour flight complete with complimentary meals, snacks, drinks, movies and TV shows. These flights went fairly smoothly, without too many hitches. We arrived in Sydney, Australia on Sunday, 14 December in the morning and had a 10-hour layover before our flight to Christchurch, New Zealand. During this layover, the three of us were able to get out of the airport and walk around downtown Sydney for a bit! It felt great to get some real fresh air and, for me, reacquaint myself with the area.
We walked around the Opera House, then to the amazing and expansive botanical gardens nearby. One can walk around the bay in the gardens and get another great view of the opera house…
I didn’t take many pictures of the gardens, but there are many beautiful flowers and a lot of birds.
Our flight to Christchurch was delayed an hour, which was disappointing because we were already scheduled to get in at a late 11:50 pm that night. We ended up getting into Christchurch at around 12:30 am on Monday 15 December, and didn’t get to our hotel until 2 am. It was long and exhausting travel, and a good night’s rest would have been great but we had to get to the Clothing Distribution Center (CDC) by 9:30 am that morning. That good night’s rest would have to wait.
The CDC went smoothly, and we had the rest of the afternoon to explore the roots of Christchurch’s nickname “The Garden City.”
The day was relaxing, and we were scheduled to fly to the ice on Tuesday, 16 December but we got weather delayed. There were low clouds and fog in McMurdo so landing would have been unsafe. We all were a little bummed because we had our expectations set on getting to Antarctica that day, but we also were happy to enjoy an extra day in Christchurch.
On 17 December, at 12:50 pm, we departed Christchurch on an LC-130, McMurdo-bound. Near the end of the flight I looked eastward out of the porthole by my seat and saw an expansive view of the terrain surrounding one of our weather stations: Cape Bird AWS.
A short while later, we landed smoothly at Williams Field and stepped foot on Antarctica!
I’m happy to be back on the ice, and I’m excited to relive the Antarctic experience!