Greetings to everyone reading this at home. This week at Davis saw our expeditioners covering the sea, air and land around Davis on a variety of infrastructure projects, science experiments, aviation operations and field trainings. With 78 expeditioners on station including some transiting friends from Mawson, Davis station is full of activity. Now concluding our second full week here, the team is settling into a rhythm, a social committee is in full swing as is a range of friendly competitions. Next week sees the first installment of ‘Radio Davis'! Stay tuned with our warmest greetings. The Davis crew.

Helicopter operations

Following a few days of bad weather and the peeling of hundreds of potatoes, the team from helicopter resources was keen to get in the air. Finally there was a break in the weather and it was time to get to work.  

It’s not every day that you see a helicopter sling loading ocean water into a 7000 litre water tank in the name of science.

Normally, this combination of a highly skilled helicopter pilot, a helicopter and water bucket is used to fight fires back in Tasmania during the bush fire season. This season in Antarctica it is being used to fill up a holding tank for an ocean acidification experiment being run by Andrew Davidson and his team here at Davis — an innovative approach to supporting science.

Science experiments

Once a holding tank was filled by helicopters, water was transferred down into 650 litre experimental tanks in the ‘minicosm’ facility. These tanks are wired up with an array of sensors, lights and temperature controllers that allow scientist to track and modify various conditions for the ocean acidification experiment.

Over the last five days Kai, our resident chemist, has been slowly modifying the carbon dioxide to our target concentration in each of the tanks. The rest of the team have been taking regular samples to measure bacterial and phytoplankton abundance, nutrients, carbon concentration, oxygen production, and other samples to be analysed back in Australia.

The hope is to be able to identify how increased carbon dioxide in the seawater may affect the marine microorganism community in Antarctica, which form the base of the Antarctic food chain. A big thank you to the helicopter crew and also the trades team for their assistance in getting the program under way.

Infrastructure and communications

The major project this year for the trades team is the installation of a new waste water treatment plant and the connection of heating hot water — high on the list to enable the work to be done in a warm building. A new culvert has to be installed to allow the pipes to be connected to existing services.

This season we have two communication riggers with us to run some upgrades on the radio based communication towers that are here at Davis. After waiting for favourable weather, this week the team found themselves 28 metres up in the air to start work on installing new antennas.

Field training

Field training of expeditioners is continuing at a steady pace. This is an important part of station life as it equips expeditioners with an awareness of their operating environment and skills to reduce the risks faced when travelling both by foot and vehicle off station. It’s also an important part of any photo album that we get to share with our family and friends back home.