On the Ice

22 Jan: Helicopters and Ships!

Hello Everyone!

This past few days has been busy! Here’s the activities over the last few days:

1. Visiting Linda AWS site

Late last week, we got to visit another automatic weather station (AWS) site – Linda AWS. It’s about a 30 to 40-minute helicopter flight out to Linda. I was joined by my colleague Andy along with a helper from the McMurdo fire department. He spent his day off with us to help out, and get the chance to see a bit of Antarctica. While the photos don’t show it, it was a mighty windy day, with winds constant at 20 to 25 miles per hour. Some snow was blowing around, which also made it a bit more of a challenge. On the return trip, we were able to catch a great view of Mt. Erebus – with a lenticular cloud covering it, and McMurdo Station all in the same view. The trip was an overall success with the station running well.

Linda AWS viewed from the helicopter

Art, Andy, and Matt from left to right

Matt in the front seat of the A-star

2. Touring the Icebreaker and Research vessels in Winter Quarter’s Bay!

This past few days we have seen the US Coast Guard Icebreaker Polar Star and the research vessel Nathaniel P. Palmer visit McMurdo Station, docking at the ice pier in Winter Quarter’s Bay. I had the opportunity to tour both. Amazing ships. The icebreaker has a tremendously powerful set of engines, and it actually goes up onto the ice and uses the weight of the ship to break the ice. A full channel has been cut in from the station including a turning basin to allow incoming ships to turn around, etc. The research vessel is a larger ship, with all sorts of lab space for scientists to do their work, etc. Overall, it was fun to see the view from the bridge of both vessels, and to have them both docked here at the ice pier.

Matt with the US Coast Guard Icebreaker

View from the Icebreaker bridge

Icebreaker Bridge

View of Hut Point from the Icebreaker

3. Visiting Scott Base

On Sunday afternoon, we had the opportunity to visit Scott Base, which is New Zealand’s main station in Antarctica. It’s a short ride away – and a bit of a walk (less fun in the bad weather we had on Sunday). They have a small store you can visit, and nice view South, however it wasn’t to be seen the day we went due to the bad weather.

4. Snow! Weather delays

Weather has been terrible here for the last few days, making it difficult to fly any aircraft in or out. We actually had a 2 to 3 inch snow storm in the last 24 hours, along with fog and very low cloud ceilings. It was interesting to see the volcanic rock around McMurdo and Observation Hill all turn white with snow. We’ve been canceled for flying again today due to bad weather at the locations of our weather station sites.

Lenticular Clouds around Mt. Erebus

5. Science Presentation: Fossils of Antarctica!

This past Sunday night’s science lecture was on fossils. Many have been found in Antarctica, and they are related to some of the same found in South Africa and other areas of the world. The science group giving the presentation are trying to learn about some of the past mass extinctions of species on the planet – especially during the very early Triassic period (if I have that right).

Until next time!


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