Winter is coming

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This week at Casey: 19 April 2013

It’s now middle of April, two months since the final A319 flight left for the season with the last of the summer expeditioners. Temperatures have started to drop and you can tell that winter is coming. During last week, temperatures dropped to minus twenty four degrees Centigrade combined with a wind of twenty three knots - makes for a cold walk to work.

When you venture out you have to protect your face or you suffer wind burn which feels like sunburn but is a lot less dangerous. But it’s going to get a lot colder yet. The small lake that provides the station drinking water is frozen and would make the perfect ice staking rink. If only we had ice skates! Even the sea has begun to freeze. What was the location for the Australia Day swim back in January is now a frozen jumble of ice blocks.

It is now possible to walk across to Shirley Island. To make sure it is safe, sea ice thickness measurements are made. It needs to be 200 mm thick for foot travel and 400 mm for quad bikes. Currently the passage is between 350 and 500 mm. It will go to 1200 - 1500 mm by the end of winter.

Of course the penguins are long gone, out onto the edge of the sea ice. The only signs of their presence are the pebbles they fought for so vigorously over during summer. What are some of the other signs that it is getting colder? Well, the snow has taken on the nature of styrofoam, breaking off in chunks and squeaking as you walk on it.

Stalactites are forming on the outside of the buildings and even stalagmites can be found if you look hard enough. The windows of the red shed, the accommodation building, has ice crystals growing on the outside of the double glazed windows.

Winter is still six weeks away so Casey station waits in anticipation to see what the middle of winter is really like. How cold can it really get? 

Jukka P 

A picture of Casey station weather data on a computer screen
Casey wind chill went as low as negative forty degrees
(Photo: Jukka Pirhonen)
Jukka wearing a winter goose jacket, his face hidden by hood - taken outside of Casey station
Casey comms technical officer dressed up to walk to work
(Photo: Jukka Pirhonen)
Picture of an icy melt lake
Casey 'ice rink ' a.k.a. the drinking water supply
(Photo: Jukka Pirhonen)
Over head shot of expeditioner standing on thick ice - shoes on ice
Perfect surface for ice skating
(Photo: Jukka Pirhonen)
Picture of Newcombe Bay sea ice
Seas freeze at Casey
(Photo: Jukka Pirhonen)
Picture of the wharf and the frozen sea ice
Less inviting to go for a swim
(Photo: Jukka Pirhonen)
Male expeditioners drilling the sea ice to test the depth
Testing the sea ice
(Photo: Jukka Pirhonen)
Drilling to test the depth of the sea ice
Measuring sea ice thickness on Shirley Island passage
(Photo: Jukka Pirhonen)
Shirley Island rocky terrain with random loose pebbles left over my the Adelie penguins
All the penguins gone, only the rocks remain
(Photo: Jukka Pirhonen)
Icicles dangling of an outdoor light
Icicles on the green store light
(Photo: Jukka Pirhonen)
Ice crystals forming in-between the glass windows
Ice crystals form interesting patterns
(Photo: Jukka Pirhonen)
Ice crystals forming flower shapes
Ice flowers on the window
(Photo: Jukka Pirhonen)
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