On the Ice

11 Jan: POLENET arrival 3 Jan, Kominko-Slade AWS 4-5 Jan

The day we went to Austin AWS, the POLENET crew arrived at WAIS. There are 8 of them, so they definitely made an immediate impact on camp life in that they nearly doubled the population! They also take up a lot of space in our “science mod,” as evidenced by the following pictures.

The science mod, before the POLENET infestation.

The science mod, after the POLENET infestation.

It took some coping, but Marian and I eventually accepted that fact that we needed to share our space with them. And in all seriousness, POLENET is a great crew to work alongside, so we can’t complain.

The day after POLENET arrived (4 Jan), they got priority for using the Twin Otter and ended up flying to one of their sites. Marian and I took this opportunity to go to Kominko-Slade AWS, a 5-minute snowmobile ride away, to raise it. It had been several years since it was last raised, so we were prepared to do a lot of digging to unbury the 2 boxes of batteries (~150 pounds each) for the power system. This AWS has some extra instrumentation (hence an extra power system box), so we knew we had a long day ahead of us. The weather was great that day, with light winds and sunny skies. As it turns out, it took us two days to finish the work, but we lucked out in that the weather was good both days and even better on the second day.

Kominko-Slade on arrival, with our snowmobile and Marian in the background.

After we arrived, we recorded the heights of all the instruments and noted ones that were buried. The ADG and solar radiation sensor boom is buried just below the surface, and you may see it extending out to the left from the tower. Then we started digging out the buried instruments and power system.

Marian working on freeing the top battery box (they were stacked).

The view from the hole. I’m standing atop the second power box. We (mostly Marian) dug out a staircase to more easily raise the boxes.

We reached the second power system, but at that point it was getting to be lunchtime in town so we decided to wait with raising the second one until after we fueled ourselves up. That’s another perk of working at KMS; we got a hot lunch!

After the delicious grub, thanks to the awesome camp chef Zach, we got back to Kominko-Slade and raised that second power box. We then began removing instrumentation from the tower to prep for putting on a new tower section. We tried the troublesome 7-footer that we had attempted to use at Kathie and Austin, but as we expected, it didn’t fit on Kominko-
Slade either. We attached a 5-foot tower section instead. The remainder of the day, until around dinner time, we worked on reinstalling the instrumentation and filling in the pit we had dug. We resigned ourselves to finishing our work the following day and heading back to town for the night.

Kominko-Slade, as we left it at the end of our first day there.

The next day, 5 Jan, Marian and I went back out to Kominko-Slade. It worked out in that the weather was not good at any of our sites to fly to and the weather was great at WAIS!

Marian on the tower.

The rest of the work we had to do went very smoothly and within a couple comfortable hours we were finished. Kominko-Slade is safe from a snow burial for another several years!

The newly-raised Kominko-Slade AWS.

Dave Mikolajczyk

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