Lee and I returned from the ice in mid-February! As with any field season, it takes a bit of time to get back into the swing of things. The first couple weeks back are always tricky to get the body used to the new time zone, and the pace of life, and all that. And since I wanted to be sure, I let a few months pass by. So, now is a great time to update you all on the end of our field season and go over how things went.
We worked right up until the end of the field season. I left the ice on 4 February, and the night before, we flew to Cape Bird to check on the health of the AWS there. This AWS is on the northern end of Ross Island and is near the coast. In the summer, the sea ice opens up, and when it gets windy a lot of sea spray can reach the AWS, damaging the instruments and cabling over time. It’s amazing how a little bit of salt can eventually weaken and corrode metal nuts and bolts! But, one advantage of going to Cape Bird is that it’s located near an Adelie penguin rookery. So yes, we get to see thousands of penguins. And seals and whales and Skua!
Lee remained on the ice for a few days after I left, and he went back to Sarah PCWS and Phoenix AWS to try some last-minute repairs. Although Lee wasn’t able to get Phoenix transmitting, he was able to get Sarah back up and running, and it is still going strong as of this writing! Skomik PCWS unfortunately stopped transmitting on 11 February, so at least we have one PCWS still running.
This field season was one of the biggest tests of our patience in dealing with delays and cancelations. Because we missed the 2020-21 field season due to COVID, we had a lot of work planned and high expectations. Of course, also due to COVID delays, there were scheduling and resource conflicts that came up in practically every facet of our deployment. At times it seemed as though Lee and I wouldn’t get much of any field work completed. But just as we’ve seen in years past, everyone from the National Science Foundation, to the Antarctic Support Contract, to the fixed wing and helicopter flight coordinators, to the pilots, to our fellow scientists and people of McMurdo, wanted us to succeed, did their best to make that happen, and followed through when resources were finally available. When we could fly, we flew! Lee and I ended up getting some good field work completed in the second half of this season. Hopefully we can carry that over that momentum to the next field season. Until then…