Week 5 - Turning up the heat

The first Aurora Basin field team
The first Aurora Basin field team before a partial changeover (Photo: Tas van Ommen)
An ice core in the Hans Tausen drill.Dr Mark Curran measures the length of an ice core'Toby' the heater kept expeditioners warm in the kitchen

This week at Aurora Basin was very busy and there were quite a few changes in camp. Not only was it the New Year, but we had a changeover in our members, with nine people returning to Casey and six new members flying in to camp on 30 December.

It was a sad moment saying goodbye to those leaving, with hugs, jokes, photos and promises shared. But it was exciting to have new people coming in. Our camp has now become younger, and half of us are girls. We are waiting for our final member to join us and our camp population will be 16.

We have had an unexpected problem with the temperature in our processing tent. It’s not as cold as we expected. It has actually been too warm for us to work, with the temperature rising above 0 degrees during the day. Therefore, the processing team of Olivia, Chris, Holly and I are working in the evening until late into the night. Unfortunately that means we miss out on the chance to relax after dinner and join in the valuable sharing time with our friends, but the work has to be done.

On 5 January we had drilled 193 m of the main core and 116 m using the Eclipse drill. We had processed 56 m of ice, scraped 27 m of ice, and analysed 16 m of ice for stable isotopes. We will begin drilling another core tomorrow.

I have one piece of sad news. Our precious, hottest friend, Toby the heater, passed away on the night of 4 January. He wasn’t well for the last few days but he was still working hard for us. That night, after dinner, his condition became unstable, but he waited for us night workers to finish. When we came back to the kitchen tent at 1 am he was mumbling, puffing and suffering. Then suddenly, his little lid popped off and it was time to shut him down. This is how he died. We were sad and cold!

But next morning when I woke up there was already new heater in the kitchen tent (thank you Bloo!). Toby has now been replaced by 'Kenobi' (Jason 2014). So we have a nice warm kitchen tent again.

Mana Inoue is a PhD student at the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperate Research Centre and the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies at the University of Tasmania. She is working as a field assistant at Aurora Basin, cutting, scraping and analysing ice cores.