We enjoyed a few more cancellations and one more mechanical issue with the plane in the air, but we eventually landed at WAIS Divide on Jan. 14th in the afternoon. We were welcomed by the camp staff, and they appreciated that we had been waiting for about 10 days to get here. There ended up being another flight that came to WAIS that night, so they hadn’t had a flight for 2 weeks and then they had 2 flights in 2 days.
We got a quick tour of the camp, and then we spent the rest of the afternoon setting up the tents and unpacking. Lee did some testing with the old pressure sensor, and we found and organized our cargo so we would be ready for our flights.
Jan. 15th we had our first opportunity to fly! We went to Harry AWS site first where we needed to take out the old AWS2B instrumentation and replace it with new CR1000 instrumentation. We flew with Jonathan Willie (who got his degree with Dave Bromwich) and Ryan Scott, and they are both meteorologists too. They were very excited to get out of WAIS camp on a Twin Otter flight!
First, we dug down to the junction box and recovered that by cutting the cables to the batteries. We decided that it wasn’t worth it to dig 5 or more feet to recover the batteries. Then we removed all of the old instrumentation from the tower and added a 7 foot tower section, which is always a fun adventure.
Lee climbed up the tower and lined up the tower section, but it wasn’t going down all the way. Lee was doing everything he could to push the tower section down further. Then Troy (the pilot) suggested to secure it with a cargo strap that we could just leave at the site, so Lee figured that was our best option.
Then we started putting all of the new AWSCR1000 instrumentation on the tower. The only issue was that we didn’t end up having an extra humidity sensor (it’s a really long story), and we forgot to grab a horizontal pole to mount the Acoustic Depth Gauge. Otherwise everything worked perfectly, we finished in about 2 and half hours, and we were able to verify transmission with the Teleonics.
Then we tried to fly over to Theresa AWS but it was too covered in cloud for us to land, so then we headed over to Byrd AWS. We arrived at Byrd station and we refueled. While the pilots were refueling, we got a brief tour of the camp via a couple minute journey on a sled on the back of a snow machine. They have only 5 people staying there currently, but Byrd used to be the largest camp in West Antarctica before WAIS divide existed. There was an ice core drilled there and the building is now buried.
Then we went back to the plane and taxied over the Byrd AWS site. We needed to check the aerovane because the wind speed wasn’t working properly. Lee climbed to the top of the tower and quickly learned that the wind speed cable had been tightened too much. After about 15 minutes we verified that it was working properly again!
Then we got to back to WAIS and landed in white out conditions…. which made for a fun landing!
The weather was bad Saturday, Janurary 16th and the whole camp took the day off on Sunday, January 17th. There will only be 3 more days of flying due to the pilot’s contract ending. We will likely be leaving by the end of the week, or at least by January 23rd.
If you want to learn more about what it’s like at WAIS, check out Dave’s blog from a couple of weeks ago. I also made a quick little tour video of WAIS 🙂