Hear ‘BoM Technician’ and you may imagine a person in an armoured suit defusing explosive devices. Not the case — BoM is the acronym for Bureau of Meteorology.
The BoM Tech’s role is to keep the equipment working to support climate and forecasting operations, as well fulfil the role as a Weather Observer, with about a 60/40% split between the two roles. There is a fair bit of equipment in and around Casey research station which assists in gathering surface and upper air observations, from Automatic Weather Stations (AWS) to hydrogen generators to radiosonde tracking systems.
At Wilkins Aerodrome, about 70km south east of Casey, there is an Automatic Weather Station which provides data for aviation operations. Over summer it was noted that the 10 metre mast, which the wind vane is mounted on, was in poor condition and needed new anchors fitted. The winter winds can exceed 120 knots, and this excessive and unrelenting force could cause the mast to become unstable and potentially collapse. Consequently, a team was organised on station for the job: Sam (BoM Tech), Jason (Comms Tech), Juan (Field Training Officer) and Conrad (Carpenter).
With their handy chainsaw skills, Juan and Conrad cut T-shapes into the ice for the anchors to rest in. To seal the anchors, nature’s concrete was used — water, of course! Within half an hour the ice was frozen solid. Some of the anchor points were completely covered in snow so a call was made to bring in the big guns — Josh aka Bam Bam from the Wilkins Aerodrome team. He cleared all the snow using the trusty trooper!
Once the good, solid ice foundation was set, we could tighten the guy wires which support the mast. Job done! Back in the warm with a cup of tea. We ensured the mast has the best chance of surviving the winter, although in this environment nothing is for certain. One of the major positives down here is how every station member is willing to get involved and help each other out. Team work is the bread and butter of this place.
It isn’t all work and no fun down here though! Recently a group of us went on travel training which teaches you how to safely travel in the Antarctic environment. We took the quad bikes and navigated throughout the terrain, certainly a worthwhile exercise.
At Casey, there is a wealth of knowledge from all walks of life. The experiences we all share in this environment are very memorable and no doubt, there will be more adventures just around the corner.