Collecting samples for science, annual stocktake, sightseeing, a ‘who’s who’ with one of the crew from Davis, and much more!

Nick’s cartoon of the week

We love a competition and it’s rare to go a few weeks without one. The latest competition commenced just after midwinter — ‘Guess the day we'll see the sun pop up over the horizon'. Expeditioners wrote their names on the board with a ‘return of the sun date’ — some were very enthusiastic with dates as early as the 4th July, others a little more realistic.

The more competitive amongst the team devised interesting ways to see if they could get an early sighting of the sun…

In the name of science

Ace and Organic Lake sampling

Last week Sarah and myself finally finished our first round of sampling at our main sampling sites. At times we weren’t sure if it was going to happen as we managed to freeze nearly everything possible, from ropes, hoses, pumps, compressors to quad bikes. By the end of sampling at Organic Lake last week we had decided two things:

  1. Always have boiling water on standby to unfreeze hoses and pumps.
  2. Start everything we are doing with “this is the last possible thing we will try, otherwise we will go back to station and get this”, as then things finally started to work.

We were quite proud last Friday when we had finished our sampling at Organic Lake, packed all the gear up and returned it to station (including rescuing the poor frozen quad bike from Ace Lake that wouldn’t start). Now it is time to unpack, clean the gear and repack to start our second round of sampling next week!

Despite the many challenges and difficulties we have faced sampling water in the cold, personally I think Sarah and I have the best jobs on station. Not many people get to be out and about in the Vestfolds most days, and have views of the iceberg alley from their office window!

By Alyce Hancock

And more science…

“Predictions of changes in the polar climate depend on our ability to simulate accurately sea ice and its role within the climate system…” [Manabe et al. 1991]

Petra Heil is looking at the relationship between sea ice and the link to the climatic model so is measuring various parameters of interest for a long term data set.

The experiments just off Davis look at various parameters of the environment relating to the formation of sea ice.

SAMS buoys, Davis sea ice

These measure the temperature of the ambient air, ice and water temperature at 20 mm intervals over 5 m. The experiment has an Iridium link that allows access to the data via a web link so that the investigating scientists can view the data and adjust the experiment parameters as required.

Stress buoys, Davis sea ice

These measure the pressure in the sea ice in three dimensions and also monitor the ambient air temperature. The sensor is buried in 500 mm of sea ice. The sea ice stress is affected by tidal movement, snow cover weight, wind and atmospheric pressure. There is an ARGOS link to allow the investigating scientist access to the data during the collection period.

The local climate information is also derived from Davis BOM.

Sea ice camera at Kazak island

This visually shows the state of the sea ice over time. The camera takes images of the sea ice on the seaward or west side at fixed time intervals. Kazak island is an excellent location as the sea ice regularly forms and is blown away by strong winds as there are no islands to contain the ice. So the process of ice formation over time can be viewed multiple times over the year. But what were the atmospheric conditions at the same time? That is where the AWS data becomes useful.

Automatic Weather Station (AWS) at Kazak Island

This logs temperature, humidity, wind speed, wind direction and solar radiation again ten minute and one hour time intervals.

The factors from these experiments provide data for the modelling of the sea ice and hence the role of prediction within the climate system.

By David Correll

On the job

Dave makes modifications to the Kazak Island automatic weather station and the mechanical team have commenced the annual stocktake.

Just to show it is not all ‘beer and skittles’ down south, here are a few pictures of the inevitable stocktake of the spare parts carried here at Davis.

Although at times a tedious task, it is nevertheless an important one in keeping all plant equipment on station in serviceable and functioning condition.

All of the service and spare parts for plant equipment, both stationary and mobile, are stored out of the weather in three basic locations.

The Green Store holds the bulkier items such as spare tyres, engines and transmissions. The MPH (main power house) holds all the items required for the servicing of the diesel engines (Cat 3306) that drive the gensets. This includes not only air, fuel and oil filters but also water pumps, fuel injectors, turbo and numerous o-rings and gaskets that are all changed out at regular scheduled times.

This leaves the bulk of the parts for servicing and maintaining the mobile plant in the workshop store.

This is where we are currently anchored, but with a bit of effort should all be completed by next week’s news… stay tuned!

By Mark Johnson

In the field

Last weekend two groups left station to make the most of the slightly longer sunlit days.

Corey, Layla, Sarah and Adam stayed the night at Watts hut and visited Crooked Lake and Lake Druzhby. Lake Druzhby is known for not having a lot of snow on its frozen smooth surface and this makes an ideal setting for placing coloured lights inside the ice itself — the effects are stunning (see photos below).

The other team also stayed at Watts hut but went a sightly different direction, to Trajer Ridge.

By Josh Foster

Watts-Trajer visit

Saturday saw Rob, Alyce, Dom and myself head out on our first two night winter jolly. We ventured to Lake Druzhby for night time photography on the crystal clear freshwater ice, then back to Watts Hut for some well earned refreshments and R&R.

On Sunday we set out to proof the track to Trajer Ridge. The track proved to be quite navigable, with only a few spots where we had to assess the route by foot before taking the Hägg through. It was a beautiful drive up the freshwater lakes with their amazing clear ice formations, surround by rock and ice cliffs.

After a lunchtime stop at Trajer Ridge Melon we headed back down to Watts Hut via Crooked Lake where we played with some more night time photography. A few Sunday night movies, sleep in Monday morning and we were back on station in time for lunch. A good time was had by all!

Who’s who on station

David Correll: Science — Electronics Engineer

What did you do before this?

I managed a team of research and development engineers for a mine safety equipment manufacturer.

Why Antarctica?

It was always curiosity. The stories written of the Antarctic adventurers from the past made me wonder about why people would come to such a hostile and unforgiving place. My family had a relative named Percy who wintered in Antarctica many years ago and my father spoke of him. A few of my friends wintered in the 1990s and came back with fascinating stories that fuelled my interest. Percy and my friends survived so I thought that the odds were pretty good and decided to join an expedition in 2000.

The opportunity to indulge myself in a combination of Antarctic activities and science electronics and computing has been very rewarding.

Previous Antarctic experience?

Wintered at Davis 2001 and 2007 as an electronics engineer for the atmospheric and space physics group.

How do you spend your time down here?

Work. My job is to look after the climate processes and change experiments at Davis, mostly covering atmospheric physics, sea ice activities. It is both maintenance and development work and gives me the opportunity to work on a diverse range of equipment ranging radar, laser, optical, data logging, computer and camera. There is plenty of field work looking after the sea ice experiment and wildlife cameras. The most recent activity was installing an automatic weather station on an island near the Sørsdal glacier with plenty of help from the trades.

Social. There are so many ways to spend your time in Antarctica. Writing to my partner back in Australia; playing guitar with PJ and continuing to learn new tricks; field trips to relax away from the comforts of station with a few others; watching movies of various quality; reading about ancient history and being constantly surprised at how advanced and organised they were. There are constant discussions on interesting topics and every person holds within them an interesting story.

What do you miss the most?

Spending time with my partner. We travelled for years together after my last winter in Antarctica and got used to being together 24 hours a day, so I miss her company a great deal. It is great with improvements in communications technology to be able to be virtually connected when away in Antarctica.

Best thing about being here?

Living and working on the edge of a mostly untouched part of the world whilst having the comforts of home available, and living to some extent in a small village where everyone provides unique and necessary services that support the community. So we get the best of both worlds. The idea of sitting in the dining area looking through a window out across a frozen bay with islands and icebergs, whilst sipping on a freshly ground coffee latte, while at the same time briefly looking at the latest world news on a laptop connected to the internet is quite surreal. Yet step outside and stand on the other side of the window and Antarctica becomes very real.