On the Ice

2019-2020 Field Season

Hello! My name is Taylor Norton and I am a senior undergraduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where I also work with the AMRC. I am on my first field season down on the ice, even if just for a few short weeks. Lee Welhouse and Josh Thorsland (from Madison Area Technical College) have been here since mid-November working hard on the new Polar Climate and Weather Stations (PCWS) and servicing stations as weather and flights allow. There is a new project studying Thwaites Glacier and all the people in this effort need planes to travel from West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS). This meant that we could only travel to WAIS to check on the AWS Kominko-Slade (at WAIS). So, Lee and Josh had the shortest trip this group has had out to WAIS, lasting only 3 days the week before Christmas. There is still more work to be done for both MATC PCWS and UW-Madison AWS projects, and I am here to help!

To catch up on more details of what Lee and Josh have been doing, take a look at Josh’s blog: https://antarctic-josh.com/.

Before getting to McMurdo, I needed to stop in Christchurch, New Zealand to go through orientation and get my cold weather gear on 29 December. Some exchanges needed to be made since the first coat I was given was too big – the sleeves went to my knees! Afterwards, I spent some time out in the sun and warmth (65F weather) knowing I would be heading for cold temperatures soon. On the morning of 30 December, I rode on a LC-130 to McMurdo. Luckily, there were no delays! The flight was smooth and very roomy which was really nice.

A picture of the Avon River near Victoria Square in Christchurch, New Zealand and a punting boat.

The views of the sea ice and mountains as we made our way south was breathtaking. Stepping off the plane onto the ice was so surreal, but much warmer than you’d expect. Temperatures were just above freezing, so big red was almost too warm to wear! After landing at Phoenix Airfield, we took the Terra Bus to McMurdo where I saw more mountains, pressure ridges, and seals!

Sea ice and the Prince Albert Mountains as seen from the LC-130.
Here I am, just off the plane and about to get on the “bus” to McMurdo!
A small pressure ridge with seals behind it (black blobs)!

Now that I am all settled in and have seen the town (and some of its views), we will ring in the new year celebrating not only the next decade, but the 40th anniversary of the AWS program! We have accomplished a lot of great work in these past 40 years, and we hope to continue our efforts for the Antarctic community for many years to come.

I’ll keep you all updated throughout the next two weeks of the work we finish the season off with!



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