The Aurora Australis has arrived at Davis ready to take the summer expeditioners home. It’s been an enormously successful season for the Sørsdal Glacier project. We started out with Christian and Eleri installing towers with lake monitoring equipment, tracking the growth of two different surface lakes and the temperature of the ice around them.
In mid-December, the first team headed home, to be replaced by Tom and myself. Our task was to perform a broad geophysics survey of the glacier, as well as to install and maintain two GPS and ApRES units which measure the velocity and melt rate of the ice.
Over the course of the season, we’ve seen some incredible changes on the glacier. The initial cold and snowy surface turned into a mosaic of lakes, melt streams and even a waterfall off the front of the glacier. The conditions proved to be challenging for some of the equipment, but by the end of the season we had all of our equipment installed and recording.
Our thanks go out to everyone on station for helping us to get so much done. It takes a huge team of people to get work like this completed. Some are involved deeply in the day to day work: the field guides who look after our safety, the helicopter pilots and engineers, the operations and Bureau of Meteorology team who organise what flights are possible. But equally we are supported by everyone who keeps the station running, from chefs to carpenters, electricians and plumbers.
While I’m sure many of us are excited to get home to friends and family, it’s also sad to be leaving Antarctica behind. Davis station has provided us with amazing wildlife, sunsets, icebergs and scenery. But the highlight of any trip down here is always the wonderful community of people on station. It’s a rare opportunity to meet so many interesting people, from such a wide range of backgrounds, and over the course of a season many friendships are made.
Our project doesn’t end when we leave station, the work will carry on for us once we return to Australia. We come home with a large collection of data, and many results will emerge of the course of coming months as it is processed. Other data won’t be retrieved until we return next season, and I think we’ll all be looking forward to returning next year.
Dr Sue Cook