On the Ice

Ever-changing schedules

It’s been a couple weeks since I sent an update about our field season. I’ll try to give a quick overview and rundown now, but I will say now that it looks like we will be visiting our first sites of the field season today!

This field season, there have been many discussions between the science groups, the flight coordinators, and the field season planners of scheduling, fuel availability, and prioritizing science teams to accomplish field work. There were five science groups that wanted to do field work at WAIS. One group deployed to WAIS a couple weeks ago. Due to staffing shortages and fuel availability in West Antarctica (and I’m sure many other things I don’t know about), about a week ago it was determined that our AWS project could not be supported at WAIS. Our West Antarctica worked was canceled this season. Fortunately, we have other sites we can visit from McMurdo and other work to do in town, including setting up a new server that can process realtime AWS data and gather satellite composite imagery.

During this whirlwind of scheduling adjustments, Lee and I were able to get our cargo organized for visiting a couple of our sites by helicopter, Minna Bluff and White Island, as well as get ready for the AWS we can visit by ground transportation (Willie Field, Sarah, Phoenix, Windless Bight). We do have some sites we want to visit by Twin Otter (Alexander Tall Tower!, Schwerdtfeger, Marilyn, Elaine), but that work isn’t scheduled to happen until late January when both of the Otters return from WAIS. These will be regularly serviced but we will also be installing Polar Climate and Weather Stations (PCWS) at the latter 3 sites as part of our project with Madison College to develop a new datalogger.

Due to COVID restrictions, life in MCM has been a little different. There are four different COVID “levels” (red, yellow, blue, green) that indicate various requirements for masking/social distancing. Red is the most restrictive, green is no restrictions. When Lee and I arrived, we were in level yellow for about a week, which meant we had to wear masks and social distance. Over the past couple weeks, we had been in level blue (masks but no social distancing). But the past couple days we’ve been in green! It’s felt a little livelier around town because of that.

This weekend is a two-day weekend as we celebrate the holiday season. We will all enjoy a holiday feast on Saturday night. Hopefully next week Lee and I will be able to do some helo work! And here are some pictures from some hikes I’ve done around town, including up Observation Hill and Castle Rock.

Observation Hill, viewed from town.
At the top of Ob Hill, looking at McMurdo.
Castle Rock. McMurdo is on the tip of Hut Point Peninsula, and Castle Rock is on the spine towards Mt Erebus.
On Castle Rock, looking at Mt Erebus.



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