This week’s station news is brought to you by the Meteorology section.
This has been a somewhat backwards season weather-wise. November and December were unseasonably warm and sunny, leading to talk of an early melt. The melt usually occurs during late December and January leading to areas of running water and slushy snow that can severely restrict vehicle travel outside station limits. The weather turned during early January however with mostly cloudy days, below average temperatures and above average snowfall. As a consequence, the melt never really eventuated and temperatures will now continue to fall as we move further from the solstice. The cloudy conditions have now broken for a spell with clear, sunny days lifting everyone’s spirits.
The stable early season weather facilitated plenty of flying which allowed excellent progress to be made on the king penguin project. Emery, a Bureau of Meteorology technician who assisted on the project, was also tasked with repairing and upgrading automatic weather stations (AWS) at the various sites visited. There is a network of several AWS in the Casey region and over the last few years most of these had ceased working for various reasons. Due to Emery’s efforts it is expected that the whole network will be functional by the end of the season, including a new installation at Bunger Hills. Automatic weather stations provide valuable information for forecasters as well as for the climate record.
A team of three forecasters at Casey (as well as two at Davis) support flying operations over the summer season. As well as written and graphical forecast products, face-to-face pilot briefings are a vital service. This allows the forecaster to communicate the fine detail and uncertainties around a forecast that enable aircrew to make informed decisions in what is a very hazardous operating environment. The forecasters also provide support for day-to-day station operations, field parties and shipping. This season, forecasts were also provided for the heritage work being carried out on Mawson’s Huts at Cape Denison, Commonwealth Bay.
Of course the weather never stops and another vital component of the meteorology (Met) team, our intrepid observers, are always working hard to record current conditions and release, and track, weather balloons, an important part of maintaining the global climate record. This work continues, come what may, and releasing a large, hydrogen filled balloon in a blizzard certainly has its challenges.
It’s not all work and no play however with everyone taking advantage of opportunities for recreational activities off-station. The last week has also seen two Met team birthdays, Kerri and Dainn, with celebrations carried out in true Antarctic style at the field hut known as the Wilkes Hilton, including the consumption of large quantities of pemmican and hoosh, or was it pizza and birthday cake?!