This week at Casey: 22 November 2019

This week at Casey we look at how to calibrate a tide gauge and a project looking at rationalising the many containers on station

Tide gauge levelling at Casey

Tide gauges are located at each Antarctic research station and it was time for the levelling of the tide gauge at Casey station! With a beautiful weather forecast on Saturday/Sunday it was decided to give it a crack!

A floating temporary tide gauge that records its position in 3 dimensions every second has been constructed using a Global Satellite Navigation System (GNSS) Receiver by the Division's Science Technical Support (STS) team. The unit needed to be deployed for a full tide cycle of 25 hours. By comparing the elevation data logged by the temporary tide gauge to data collected by the permanent Geoscience Australia CORS (Continuously Operating Reference Station) at Casey, a highly accurate measurement of the tide levels can be made. This in turn can be used to determine the elevation of the Casey Tide Gauge. 

A sweet team of Antarctic devotees were gathered - Nathan G on chainsaw, Ben K on jiffy drill, Matt M, Dean A & Russell as extreme strong men ice handlers and Imojen on tide gauge pampering duty - headed out for a foray out onto the sea ice which is still packed in tight around the Casey wharf.

An ice bath was marked out and blocks ~0.5m deep cut by chainsaw and hauled out. As the sea ice is still >1m deep around the Casey Wharf a jiffy drill with an extension auger was needed to drill out each corner of the bath to flood it making a nice little spot for the temporary tide gauge to sit.

And then the fun began!! Every 3 hours for 25 hours, the gauge needed to be checked and ice cleared from around the floats –Rebecca M joined Imojen to work overnight to keep the hole from icing up. The tide gauge was retrieved the next day and the precious data was then downloaded and sent through to Kingston – job done!!

So how does it feel to chainsaw through sea ice you ask??......apparently it ‘goes through like butter!’

 

Nathan E using a chainsaw in the sea ice to define a pool for the tide gauge
Nathan E using a chainsaw in the sea ice to define a…
(Photo: Imojen Pearce)
The tide gauge team moving ice blocks that have been cut by the chainsaw
The tide gauge team moving ice blocks that have been cut by…
(Photo: Imojen Pearce)
Ben Keyes drilling the corners of the tide gauge pool cut in the sea ice to let in the sea water - and the tide
Ben drilling the corners of the pool to let in the sea…
(Photo: Imojen Pearce)
Rebecca McWatters monitoring the tide gauge though the night to make sure it doesnt freeze up
Bec monitoring the tide gauge though the night
(Photo: Imogen Pearce)
The tide gauge team from left to right - Matt, Imojen, Dean, Russell, Ben, Nathan
The tide gauge team from left to right - Matt, Imojen, Dean,…
(Photo: Imojen Pearce)
A lady dressed in yellow overlooking a water filled square cut into the sea ice.
Imojen keeping a close eye on the gauge
(Photo: Australian Antarctic Division)

What's in that Container.....The Container Management Project

“Have you come across …” This is a common question asked by station personnel of Mick and Lauren who are down here at Casey as part of the Container Management Project this season.

Each year material required for Casey station projects, programs and the general running of station makes it way to station either via sea or air. If coming by sea most of this material will arrive in a container of some sort whether that be a 20 foot container, a ½ height, a ¼ height … and just like when you move house the bits and pieces that are required right away or very soon are unpacked and used leaving the other items there for another day and the boxes or containers being moved to a location where they are out of the way. If you’re like me you often forget a) what was in “that box” or b) if indeed you still have that item you’re looking for.

Station is no different with containers for different projects and programs being found throughout the station area.  However it’s a bit harder to expand your “house and storage” down here as the footprint which we have to work in is limited and with the future of Casey looking to be a busy one in terms of increased materials for programs such as Traverse has meant the time has come to consolidate and tidy up. The Container Management Project Team of Mick, Lauren and Rod, ably assisted by station stores personnel Aaron and Tyson have been tasked with the job of looking inside every container on station, and believe me there are just a few…

The next step once contents are identified is to talk and negotiate with the various stakeholders to consolidate materials, determine project time frames to assist with organising how containers will be packed and stacked in areas such as the quarry and what materials are no longer required and can be sent back to Australia.

To date, the team have looked inside almost every container on the station and compiled an inventory of what is where, started talks with the stakeholders and in some cases have got stakeholders to start consolidating and removing no longer required materials. This process will continue throughout the summer with the aim of having material no longer required going back either on V2 on the Aurora Australis or on one of the C17-A flights and the containers packed and stacked in an orderly fashion around station.

Thanks to those who have assisted us so far with our quest by determining what is no longer required with a special thanks to the station plant operators: Nigel, Macca and Alex for clearing snow away early in the season and moving containers making it easier for us to get into containers to have a look inside.

Containers down at Old Casey, snow and ice make things a little more challenging in regard to obtaining access
Containers down at Old Casey, snow and ice make things a little…
(Photo: Lauren Wise)
Containers at Casey ready for inspection
Containers ready for inspection
(Photo: Lauren Wise)
An excavator digging containers out of the winter snow at Casey
Excavator digging containers out of the snow
(Photo: Mick Clarke)
Lauren Wise inspecting the contents of containers at Casey
Lauren inspecting the contents of containers
(Photo: Mick Clarke)
Mick Clarke inspecting the contents of a container at Casey
Mick inspecting the contents of a container
(Photo: Lauren Wise)
Casey Station - including containers - from Reeves Hill
Casey Station - including containers - from Reeves Hill
(Photo: Mick Clarke)