Friday, 10 February 2017

Punta arenas

                                                 Punta Arenas, Chile

                                         la luna restaurant. First meat in two months.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Heading home Rothera bound

 Getting ready to fly out of Halley with 4 others at the end of January. The twin otter sits on the Halley runway. The temperatures starting to drop as the sun gets lower.

 Flight over the macDonald rumpoles where the Halloween crack was observed in October 2016.

 First stop on the flight to Rothera is the Ronnie ice shelf where the  i- BEAM team awaits a drop off from the ES shackleton which is having a tough time of maneuvering through the dense pack ice.

                                        Now at Rothera and Snowboarding at Vals .

 Doing the loop with nordic skis around the Rothera flag line. Three hours of great ski-ing and near perfect weather.

                                          Rothera from the traverse towards Vals.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Halley move

                                                Summer camp at 6

                     Modules on the move, 23 km to go, now down to 4

                                                The science camp to sleep in

                                                 Big Red about to move

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Travel Home

Leaving the winterer's to defend for themselves as the Ernest Shackleton moves out from its mooring against the ice shelf out into the sea.

 Whales spotted off the ship. They always seem to appear in the sea ice area where the food is most likely.

                                             Polynea forming, a mesmerizing sight

 The ship is taking some pounding as it crosses drakes passage. The troughs and crests were huge and the ships motion but me in the cabin for a few days. The food which was normally excellent didn't appear so appealing at times.

 The two berth cabin that i shared with Chris Martin (facilities). I am not sure which of us held the record for the longest time in the bunk but i am sure it was close.

                               Meeting the JCR out at sea before the the swells came.

Safely arrived at the Dock side after a rough and turbulent sea crossing, never again until the next time that is.

                                   A one arm selfie on the way back after the fishing trip.

                                                             Catching a few mullet

Good old Falkland islands and tumbleweed and winds and rain. In the early morning it was raining and now in the afternoon this.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Halley 2015-2016

Feb 13th the first sunset at Halley although there is always a healthy debate about if it is fully below the horizon or a reflection.

  MAXDOAS snow experiment looking for Halides in the snowpack. A beautiful sunny day with a balmy -5oC in February.

 A month later the instrument is up and running. It also measures CO2 which can be compared to the PICARRO instrument that we have in the laboratory. Cross calibrations using the UEA cylinders help to provide better confidence in the instruments and the data that is provided. The UEA instrument employs a drying procedure to reduce the water content of the air stream to less than 1 ppm using a cryogenic cooler that needs to be cleaned every month.

 Thomas Barnigham (Barney) and Alex Etchells fitting the UEA O2/N2 instrument in the CASLab office. The system consists of an Oxzilla II (Sable Systems) lead fuel cell O2 analyser in series with an Ultramat 6E (Siemens) non-dispersive infrared CO2 analyser. Sophisticated calibration routines are used ,whereby six calibration standards are run at different intervals to (i) determine the response of the analysers, (ii) correct for their drift, and (iii) quantify the overall performance of the system. All standards are stored horizontally in a thermally insulated enclosure to reduce thermal and gravitational fractionation effects. Bespoke C# software acquires all data, runs the calibration routines, calculates concentrations in real-time, and ‘flags’ suspect data to alert the user to potential problems, based on about 30 diagnostic parameters. The software program and system design allow the system to run without the need for human intervention for at least six weeks at a time. 

About to send a MET balloon into the upper stratosphere for collection of data to be used in forecasting and science models to better understand the atmosphere.

 Penguins (Adele's) on the base again. Only a couple this time which stayed for a few days and then disappeared. Where did they go?

Amy the new atmospheric scientist being trained on the filling of air samples at the CASLab by Celine who will be leaving this year to work in Paris.

 Drones on the base. Mainly used for practical things such as surveying although the use for personal is possible it is restricted to certain areas and permition is needed.

Walk around the EMQA area (Electro Magnetic Quiet Area). Entering the caboose with Alex and josh.

Alex, one of the electronic engineers showing us the VLF data which can detect communications from submarines as well as studying the interactions between the atmosphere and particles from the solar winds. It is mainly used to map in real time lightening strikes around the world which produce whistling tones.

 The fluxgate magnetometer measures the strength and direction of the earth’s magnetic field and provides data to let us study the solar wind and the ‘space weather’ high up in the atmosphere and space . On a long timescale, this is driven by what goes on under your feet; it depends on where you are compared to the spinning iron core of the globe and the local geology. However, we are interested in short timescales, from seconds to hours. Here the magnetic field is driven by what happens above us in space.
Several kinds of natural waves in the ultra-low-frequency (ULF) range are generated in Earth’s space environment (the magnetosphere, bounded by Earth’s magnetic field as it extends into space). Most of these can penetrate the atmosphere and be detected on the ground by search coil magnetometers which can tell us lots about activity and energy flow in Earth’s space environment. The search coil magnetometer is buried about 100m from the caboose.

Vicki, the pilot for the MAC campaign enjoying a go on the space modulation unit back on base. It took a while to get used to the controls but slow and steady seems to be the preferred route and you are docking onto the international space station. Its all part of ESA (European Space Agency) science project that is running at Halley throughout the year to study the effects of confined spaces, sleep patterns etc in a remote environment, which will help astronauts in space be better prepared.

 The chicks have grown in 2 months to roughly the size of the adults. More chicks are present than adults.

 Happy winterer's (Celine, Natalie, Alexander and Hue) on the sea ice, happily watching the Emperor penguins go about there business.

The only up and down to see the penguins requires abseiling off the ice shelf and jumaring back up.When your hands are cold and you are tired it requires some effort.

MAC Campaign

The MAC (Microphysics of Antarctic Clouds) campaign

The start of the MAC campaign involving the twin otter (MASIN) aircraft and the CASLab as the ground based study. This was a NERC funded proposal involving the university of Manchester and BAS. This season there will be 4 BAS personnel and 3 from Manchester. The team above are ready to fly with their dry suits and life jackets on. The main objectives of the project are:1.To investigate the nature of Ice Nuclei (IN) and Cloud Condensation Nuclei (CCN) in coastal Antarctic and to identify the dominant mechanisms responsible for the glaciation of clouds in this region.
2.To test whether the Polar Weather Research and Forecasting model (WRF) and the Met Office Large Eddy Cloud Resolving Model (LEM) are able to reproduce the observed cloud microphysics and the surface radiation balance below cloud.
3.To develop new cloud parameterizations for this region.

The MAC project SPIN instrument (measures the number of ice nuclei) and cylinders being moved from and onto the platform ready for the MAC campaign. It is the only time when vehicles are allowed into the clean air sector or when they decide to move the building or raise the 40m tower.

The desk space is now quite full with various aerosol instruments to measure and count the various particles that we hope to encounter. There will also be bag sampling from the aircraft and filters at the CASLab.

A blustery day for a walk to the CASLab and back to the modules. The one way 1.2km walk takes about 15 minutes on a solid footing day when the ground is solid but on a day with 30km winds and soft snow it can upto 30 minutes.

Another man-hauling day with instruments to the CASLab with the help of Alex and Celine. More instruments for the MAC campaign.

Ready for the next science cloud flight with Constantino, TLC and Vicki (the pilot). Having to wear a dry suit and a life-jacket for the whole period which made it slightly uncomfortable but the flying just below clouds created turbulence which made one feel uncomfortable. The length of the flight was about 4 hours at a maximum altitude of 4000 ft.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

From Chile to Halley 2015

 Helping Sam to set off the local weather balloon, which has connected to it a sonde which gathers information about, temperature, pressure and wind speed/direction.  These balloons are used for forecasting the weather and are released around the world at the same time. It will reach a height of about 100km, growing in size to that of a double decker bus before it bursts and falls back to earth.

Walking around the Rothera point looking for wildlife but only icebergs today. Its a 30 minute walk in the snow but in summer when the snow disappears then its just rock and it takes a bit longer although there is usually more wildlife.

                      Three or four runs and its time to head back home

                                           View from the top

 Fresh powder and crisp clean snow, not that deep so its quite easy to ski and within a minute you are back down and its a 15 minute skinned walk/ski to the top again.

               Saturday ski-touring to stork bowl. A beautiful clear day.

The Caboose at Vals which is 1 -2 hours skiing with skins from the base. The caboose is kitted with all the necessary equipment for staying for a number of days for upto 4 people including a reflex stove for heating and cooking.

Skiing at Vals with support from a skidoo to make it easier to get there and to get to the top of the run. Can do a large number of runs within a short period but this is nowhere near as good as the bowl or as steep.

The Rothera base on an overcast and blowy day, still covered in snow as the season starts.

 Sleeping accommodation for 4 in the Giants building although there was just me for this period since the season is not fully underway.

                                                Ready for action

Buildings and doorways dugout as the snowfall gathers during the winter. It was slowly be moved and will melt as the temperatures warm and rocks below start to radiate heat.

Rothera still blanketed in snow, the Bonner laboratory which is the biological science platform is still adrift with snow. A twin otter in the background coming into land on the gravel runway.

The first glimpse of Rothera, the major antarctic base due to its logistical capabilities and the science facilities. It can accommodate upto 130 people in a season, probably not comfortably but still double the amount of people compared to Halley.

 Making our way to the BAS Dash aircraft (4 engined) for the 5 hour journey to Rothera.

A 4 hour flight to Punta Arenas arriving late and not leaving the hotel. Not really bothered since i have spent many a night in Punta and eaten at many of the restaurants.

Peri-peri prawns at a local restaurant.

Santiago city centre

Santiago city centre is busy compared to Punta Arenas and it covers a large area with many gardens and things to see.

A local fruit and snack stall on the way to the city centre.

Time to taste some of the local dishes on my way into the city. Its a 14km walk and takes about 3-4 hours passing many local shops, markets and suburbs.

 A Night in Santiago after a flight 3 hour flight from London to Madrid, a 5 hour wait in the airport and a 14 hour Dreamliner journey to Chile. Arrived at 0900 and will leave the following day at 1400.