On the Ice

24 Nov: Finally getting a few things done!

On Tuesday, November 21st, George and I got to fly all over Ross Island via helicopter. We needed to wait for the weather to clear up in the morning, but we got to head out at about noon. We wanted to try and hit all four AWS; Cape Bird, Marble Point, Minna Bluff, and White Island. As we were leaving, the pilot thought we should first go to Marble Point so we could get a better view of the clouds at Cape Bird. Then off we went to Marble Point! Here is a map for reference of the four locations.

Ross Island AWS

We have two AWS at Marble Point. The original Marble Point was installed in 1980, and the newer Marble Point II was installed in 2011. It’s incredible how consistent these AWS run because we’ve had almost no issues with their instrumentation or power systems over the years. This year was also the case since everything was in great shape!

Marble Point AWS

Marble Point II AWS

Then our pilot decided that the clouds had lifted enough at Cape Bird, so we flew there next! Along the way we saw a few penguins on the sea ice, and we flew over the 3-mile-long iceberg. We landed at Cape Bird, and there weren’t any New Zealander’s there studying penguins, so no one yelled at us for flying too close to penguins this time. As I’ve talked about many times before, Cape Bird is an epic location full of views of 1,000’s of adelie penguins and small icebergs. In any case, we were still there to inspect the AWS at the top of the hill, so George and I hiked up the hill. The AWS looked great except it had a little bit of sea spray, but that’s to be expected at this location. The new aerovane that Lee installed last year looks to be working great!

Adelie penguins at Cape Bird

Cape Bird AWS

Next, we took a pit stop at McMurdo to refuel, and within 15 minutes we were back in the helicopter on the way to Minna Bluff. Upon arrival, we immediately noticed that the large amount of riming on the AWS.

Rimming at Minna Bluff AWS

Luckily, the pilot had a little shovel that I could use to knock off all the snow. Then I found that the temperature sensor had completely lost its white plastic shield. I decided to tape down the sensor to make sure it didn’t get blown away.

Temperature sensor at Minna Bluff AWS

Finally, we also noticed that the tower is leaning at about 10°. We’ll need to go back to install a new temperature sensor and try to realign the tower properly.

On Wednesday, November 23rd, George and I got a pickup truck for the afternoon to drive to Phoenix Field to install our instrumentation for a new AWS. We had already installed the tower last week, so I figured it would only take about 2 or 3 hours. For the most part, the installation went very well. I had one issue with the humidity sensor because I noticed that the plastic shield for the sensor was missing one of its long bolts. Dave Mikolajczyk will be bring a bolt from Wisconsin for us to use to fix the shield, and then we’ll be able to install the humidity sensor. Once everything was plugged in and power was connected, I tried to insert a data card. I think something might not have been correct with the card, so now the AWS isn’t transmitting now. Hopefully I’ll be able to go back to Phoenix to test a few other data cards to get it transmitting, but we’re close to getting it working!

Carol at the newly installed Phoenix AWS

As I said in the last blog, make sure to check out George’s blog!

Hope you all enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving back in the states!


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