This week at the station

This week at Davis: 28 February 2014

Nick's illustration of the week

Cartoon illustration of an expeditioner driving an inflatable boat over a rock
Captain Webby
(Photo: Nick Cartwright)


Monitoring Ecosystem Stability in Model Marine-Derived Antarctic Lake Systems

This winter there is a lot happening over in the science building. We (Sarah Payne and Alyce Hancock) are two wintering scientists at Davis Station this season working on a project for Rick Cavicchioli of UNSW. The project, “Monitoring Ecosystem Stability in Model Marine-Derived Antarctic Lake Systems”, aims to determine how microbial communities change throughout a complete annual cycle in three climate-sensitive Antarctica lakes (Ace, Organic and Deep Lakes) as well as a near-shore marine location. The knowledge gained from these studies will form the underpinnings for evaluating the effects of climate change on sensitive ecosystems in Antarctica. In addition to Ace, Organic and Deep Lakes, which are model systems that are being intensively studied, we are also undertaking small scale sampling of numerous (hundreds) other lakes, many of which have not been studied before.

Our role for this project is to complete all the field sampling through summer (2013-14) and winter (2014). This requires us to spend considerable periods of time in the field collecting and filtering lake water onto a large filter format system. Due to the loss of helicopter support, after December we have focused on collecting extra lake samples from a variety of lakes around the Vestfold Hills by foot. This included two one-week long trips based at Brookes and Platcha huts collecting samples from the lakes in these areas. In between sampling trips we spend our time unpacking and cleaning equipment from our field trips, preparing for upcoming trips and doing various forms of microscopy to gain abundance measures of the microbes within the lakes.

Here are some photos of our work.

Sarah Payne and Alyce Hancock

aerial photo of a frozen lake
Ace Lake
(Photo: Rick Cavicchioli)
Aerial photo of frozen lake
Organic Lake
(Photo: Rick Cavicchioli)
2 expeditioners sampling water at waters edge, 1 expeditioner looking on
David, Alyce and Sarah sampling at Deep Lake
(Photo: Alyce Hancock)
tent and cage pallets in the ice near the lake, helicopter hovering above
Setting up our sampling site at Ace Lake
(Photo: Alyce Hancock)
silver filtering rack inside a tent
Format Filtering Rack System in Mobile Work Shelter
(Photo: Sarah Payne)
Adelie penguins walking past science tent
Penguin Highway at Organic Lake.
(Photo: Rick Cavicchioli)
Close up of 3 expeditioners with science camp site in the background
Alyce, Sarah and Rick overlooking Ace Lake sampling site
(Photo: Rick Cavicchioli)
expeditioners at melted lake sampling water
Sampling Oval Lake January 2014
(Photo: Billy Wallace)
Two expeditioners sitting on a boulder alongside a lake sampling
Alyce and Sarah sampling one of the lakes
(Photo: Billy Wallace)
Two expeditioners in yellow windproof clothing walking into the wind and snow
Alyce and Sarah hiking between Platcha and Brookes Huts
(Photo: Billy Wallace)
head and shoulder photo of 3 females with the hut in the background
Billy, Alyce and Sarah at Brookes Hut
(Photo: Billy Wallace)
) florescent green dots and squiggles on a slide
View down the microscope on a slide used for counting microbial abundances
(Photo: Sarah Payne)

Emergency response team training - fire drill

Last Monday Stu, our Emergency Response Team Leader decided he’d run a fire drill. “You can never get enough training”, he was heard saying.

To make it look as real as possible (without ‘real’ fire) Stu parked two cars close together making it look like one vehicle had crashed into the other. Corey the Dieso was placed behind the wheel pretending to be injured.

The alarm was raised and Fire Chief Alyce and the Fire Team were very quick to respond. The fire we didn’t have was extinguished and Corey was back on his feet within minutes. A job well done !

Two utes positioned to look like they have crashed into each other
The scenario involving an expeditioner in vehicle
(Photo: Stuart Shaw)
Expeditioner pretending to be injured behind the wheel
Corey displaying excellent acting skills
(Photo: Stuart Shaw)
2 expeditioners dressed in fire turn out gear alongside the fire hagg
Mark and Sarah waiting for further instructions
(Photo: Stuart Shaw)
expeditioner being carried away from the fake incident
Corey being attended to in the fire scenario
(Photo: Stuart Shaw)
three expeditioners with a patient on their side being attended to
Doc Judy, Ali and Layla attending to the patient
(Photo: Stuart Shaw)
two expeditioners with a large fire fighting hose aimed at a vehicle
Davis ERT team extinguishing the fake vehicle fire
(Photo: Stuart Shaw)

On the job

This week the team focused on winterising the station - this means storing vehicles and machinery not required until next summer, cleaning the summer accommodation buildings and closing the doors until more people arrive at the end of this year.

With the new station leader arriving a few weeks ago she was keen to see the station through the eyes of each work group. During the week plumbers Webby and Val provided a tour of all plumbing facilities; building services supervisor Paul showed off all buildings and sites, and finally supervising mechanical services Mark toured plant, equipment and the workshop.

two men standing in front of large blue tank
Val and Webby, Team Plumb
(Photo: Narelle Campbell)
2 expeditioners demonstrating how to operate the RO plant
Webby and Val demonstrating how the RO plant operates
(Photo: Narelle Campbell)
Man standing next to large shipping container holding a red handle
Corey with his new invention
(Photo: Mark Johnson)
expeditioner on a steel frame foot bridge
Paul on his 'infrastructure tour' of station
(Photo: Narelle Campbell)
expeditioner standing next to white board
Stu assisting the newcomers with their field packs
(Photo: Narelle Campbell)
expeditioner with finger to face looking a little puzzled
OK, what did I forget?
(Photo: Narelle Campbell)
3 expeditioners arounda  table checking all gear is in order
Stu, Dave and Dom checking gear prior to leaving station
(Photo: Narelle Campbell)

Social time

With only two photos published under the ‘social’ heading it would be easy to think we don’t have a social life here at Davis. The truth is we just didn’t take any photos of the craft club, the many movie nights, our formal Saturday night dinner, darts games, and band practice. We’ll try and fill the social pages next week... watch this space

Group of expeditioners sitting around a table outside enjoying the sun
Late Friday afternoon drinks in the sun
(Photo: Narelle Campbell)
two people in an action pose
Adam and Judy playing volleyball
(Photo: Alyce Hancock)

Davis wildlife and scenery

close up of an elephant seals face
Sleepy ele seal
(Photo: Alyce Hancock)
close up of an ele seal
An inquisitive ele seal
(Photo: Alyce Hancock)
elephant seals piled on top of each other
An ele seal pile
(Photo: Alyce Hancock)
outline of huddled elephant seals in amongst blowing snow
Elephant seals huddled together during a mini blizz
(Photo: David Correll)
helicopter hovering over fuel drums
Sling loading fuel drums during the Aurora's visit
(Photo: Stuart Shaw)
aerial view looking down on a glacier
Sorsdal Glacier
(Photo: Stuart Shaw)
aerial photo of glacier
Start of the Sorsdal Glacier
(Photo: Stuart Shaw)
zerial photo of Davis Station
Davis at the end of summer
(Photo: Stuart Shaw)