On the Ice

Helicopter trip to Ferrell!

Yesterday, 12 December, Elina, Forbes, and I took a helo trip to Ferrell to raise the lower instrumentation and dig up the power system. We had two boondogglers come along with us: Megan and Cat. They work in town in McMurdo and don’t get many opportunities to get out in the field. We’re always happy to spread the joy of visiting our sites to others! Also, this is Forbes’ first site visit!

The weather throughout the visit was great; sunny skies the whole time, and a light wind turning calm. We had a little over 4 hours of ground time (which was plenty), as the helicopter dropped us off and went to fly other missions. We determined that we did not need to add a new tower section, so that made the work that much simpler.

Ferrell upon arrival. Ross Island is in the background.

After taking pictures and measuring instrument heights, we got to work digging and removing the lower temperature, instrument boom, and enclosure from the tower. The power system was buried about 5 feet below the surface. Forbes was probably the star digger of the day, as he spent the most time in the pit and did a great job lifting the power system up to the surface. The power system consists of two 100 Am-hour batteries, each of which weighing about 70 lbs. We removed one of the batteries from the box before Forbes lifted the power system out.

Ferrell after the raise, and Forbes on the right.

It was a leisurely field visit, as we could go at a relatively slow pace to do the work as we were not pressured by time or weather. Since there wasn’t much physical work to do, Elina decided to dig a hole simply to stay warm. Megan decided to dig on as well, and since the two holes were close in proximity, they dug out a tunnel to connect the two! Some very rigorous science took place at Ferrell AWS yesterday….

Elina in her hole!

Megan in her (impressively square) hole!

The hole setup.

The spike of the ice axe, indicating first contact between the holes. They eventually made the tunnel large enough for us to crawl through!

That’s all for now. We’re currently on the Otter schedule to fly to Margaret and Gill, but we’ve been weather-canceled thus far. Hopefully tomorrow will bring sunnier skies. Cheers!  -Dave

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