This week at the station
This week at Davis: 2 September 2011
A story of rags to riches: a Davis makeover
This season at Davis we are trying to eliminate the need for a refrigerated shipping container to store frozen foods. Because the existing freezer in the green store is undersized and attached to a plant room and chocolate store it was decided to combine the three into one large freezer. The walls of the plant room were insulated along with the choc store so it seemed like a good idea.
Then the work began. The demolition job revealed a few surprises with the existing internal walls buried 400 mm into the concrete, but not to be deterred, with the true Antarctic spirit in mind, we pushed on. Thankfully a few of us helped out with the almost 150 patches and reinsulating to prepare for the final paint job. With the painting finished and floor plates in place we are ready to put the new shelving in and commission the new refrigeration units.
This week saw a hive of activity with the fitting-out of most of the new Living Quarters building.
Also, this week we saw the traverse party leave Davis at 6.00 am, en route for the Rauer Islands. They had a successful trip without incident, and accomplished all that they set out to do. A highlight of their trip was an exploratory 40 km quad-bike trip along the coastal ice-cliffs south of the Rauer Islands, checking out possible routes to Amanda Bay.
Whilst the traverse party was away, six others headed out into the field on Saturday night, leaving the Station looking pretty bare with just 10 people remaining behind. This situation was exploited as a first-class seafood candlelight dinner was held for those 10 people.
Three expeditioners took advantage of the quiet week to get some first aid training in preparation for their proposed manhauling trip next week. The Surgery too has had its share of new fittings with the installation of a compactus in the medical storeroom.
A spot of ice fishing as part of the Chef’s field-based birthday party yielded only one good fish, but it was a good-sized catch.
As part of Station ops, we have weekly Station Meetings, and they always net a good attendance. And in keeping with our high standards of international cuisine, our slushies reflect these high standards and present themselves as the best dressed in Antarctica.
Less jibber jabber and more pictures
With only nine weeks to go, the return of the sunlight and the concrete of station routine being well and truly set firm, the author of station news contemplates the fact that perhaps all has been said in past articles and his story may resemble that of countless other stories which have been published in station news?
Therefore I take the liberty of excluding all the jibber jabber and presenting you what most people are interested in seeing, THE PICTURES!!!!!!!!!!!!
Enjoy.Words (or lack thereof) and pictures by Jim Dunnett
Zehn Questions with German Lidar Scientist Bernd 'Bernie' Kaifler
Slushy extraordinaire/Darts Champ/Card Shark and Chocolate aficionado
Bernd is from Ulm, Germany and lives in Kühlungsborn near the Baltic Sea in the north. Bernd is currently spending a winter here at Davis running the German Lidar. Bernd has a degree in Physics and is in his second year of his PhD studies.
Is this your first trip to the Antarctic, Bernd?
This is my first trip to Antarctica and I am really enjoying being here at Davis Station. I have worked in the Arctic as well for two winters, spending one and a half years in Tromsø, Norway.
Were you excited to come to Australia and then on to an Australian Antarctic Station?
Yes of course, to be honest I had not read much about Australia as it is so far from Germany but I was really excited about coming and working here. I think the landscape here is really beautiful with the icebergs out the front of the station, the surrounding Vestfold Hills, the glaciers and of course the field trips out to huts are a good way to take in the lakes and hills.
Were you worried about anything in particular about living on an Australian station?
I did wonder about the food Australians might eat. I had no idea of what Australian dishes might be comprised of. I have learnt that pizza shapes and vast amounts of chocolate will get you through most situations. Australians eat a lot of meat compared to what I am used to but I quite like it and we eat more pork than beef or lamb in Germany. I miss eating Spätzle (a type of noodle), I eat that at home as a side dish with meat and sauce.
Have you learnt any bad Australian habits?
Apart from some swearing, no. I have learnt a whole lot of swear words as Australians have quite colourful language.
How have you found living and working with this Australian crew?
I have found all the Aussies to be very open and friendly, always smiling and saying hello. Everyone always asks me, 'How are you?'. I was a bit worried at first as I didn’t know why they kept asking me but then I realised it is a greeting. Where I live in North Germany people are not so social and open. People do not greet each other like this and smile at each other so much and a Christmas party for example will go from 3pm to 5pm then everyone heads home. Australians really come together and celebrate. Here also everyone jumps up after a meal and helps clean up the kitchen and put the food away where I am used to only one or two people at home doing that and others will just go back to their jobs. There is great community spirit here.
We have all heard you are in poll position to take out the slushy of the year award, can you give us any tips for being a good kitchen hand?
Do any grumbling in German as I am pretty sure Justin cannot understand a word of it, look interested at all times and let him play whatever music he wants as this always makes him look upon you favourably. Wash up fast as nobody likes a dawdler (Bernd tries to tell me he is a disaster in the kitchen but we all know he will take the gold medal).
Has it been helpful to have fellow Lidar scientists to work with here?
Yes it has been good to be able to discuss problems and solutions with Doctor Dave 'Fluffy' Hosken and just to talk about work in general with him. We work with different instruments but the principals of our Lidar are the same. We understand each other and it is great to be able to converse with someone with such a big beard. As I work on my own I find it refreshing to work with others. I also like to help out with work around station when I can as I am so appreciative of all the help and support I have to be able to concentrate solely on my project. Having a Chef here at Davis is such a luxury as I can go and grab a bite to eat and get straight back to work in ten minutes where usually I have to shop and cook for myself.
What have you learnt living in this small community apart from new colourful words?
I think tolerance is extremely important and I am a very tolerant person, so I am happy to spend time with all the people in this community. It took a while for me to get to know everyone and their personalities but I feel as though I know everyone now. I respect everyone here. My friend Doctor Hosken introduced me to the history of the bikini and I was surprised to learn it was first worn by an Australian swimmer in 1907. I have learnt to play some new card games and exactly how many bars of chocolate to eat during a long night shift to keep me going.
Who inspires you Bernd?
Scientists like Marie Curie and her husband Pierre who worked tirelessly without knowing where their research was taking them to try and make advances in science. Marie Curie was a Polish/French Physicist-Chemist pioneering research on radioactivity. She was the first woman to be awarded a Nobel Prize and the only woman to win in two fields and the only person to win in multiple sciences.
If you could have one wish Bernd?
I wish that my wife Natalie could join me here at Davis to see and experience this area with me. Natalie is also a Lidar scientist so is interested in my work here at Davis.
Lastly Bernd what exactly do you get up to in the German Lidar?
Last month I collected 224 hours of data. The longest straight collection was 85 hours worth of continual data and this data includes temperature, iron density and wind speed.
Bernd and I continued talking about gaining understanding of the upper atmospheric temperature variations and waves and tides of large amplitude such as mountain air waves. Bernd has an interest in the propagation of those waves and how they travel and interact. These air waves can break and deposit energy which contributes to the heating of the atmosphere. Transport of these waves is hugely dynamic travelling up through the different levels of the atmosphere.
I will stop here as we descended into a scientific jargon not many people understand... well I was having a little trouble. Bernd is looking at the transport of gravity waves, not to be confused with gravitational waves, and it just got more difficult but we are looking forward to a presentation from Bernd into his field of science.