This week at Davis we have light in the darkness, frozen lakes and icebergs, and snow shapes in the wake of blizzards.

The Light in the Dark

So it seems that people say that the darkness during the day in winter effects how sleepy we feel. Not the case here at Davis, the electrical team (Paul and Vas) have made it their mission to ensure that there is adequate lighting in and around the station.

The powerhouse was the first challenge accepted to make the diesel mechanics somewhat blinded by the light. We upgraded the switch room and the engine room lighting to energy efficient LED technology. Not only do these new lights minimise our power usage but also limit station waste i.e. disposing of fluorescent tubes and shipping them back to Australia to get disposed of correctly and minimise our environmental impact. It also minimises the need for any lamp replacements due to their long life capabilities. As part of this we also upgraded our emergency/exit lights, to safely indicate exits in the event of a power failure and to make it easier and safer to reestablish power if we do have a failure.

Next challenge, upgrade Sleeping Medical Quarters (SMQ) cold porch lights. As part of this we replaced the existing lights with LED fluorescent equivalents. However we also installed emergency lighting in the cold porch to ensure we can get our fire gear together in the event of a power failure.

Just when the station thought it wasn’t possible to make any other areas brighter, we decided to upgrade the stairwell emergency lighting in our SMQ also.

All these lighting upgrades have future proofed our emergency evacuation areas in the event of a fire/blackout and ensures that all egresses are lit up for safe travel.

This 24 hours of darkness in winter was no match for the Davis electrical team.

The station learnt a valuable lesson from all of this — don’t tell an electrician that it’s too dark in here!

Vas Georgiou

The Beauty of Ice

We often get comments about how boring it must be to just see ice every day and everything is just white (with the exception of station and the rocks) which to some degree that is true, we do see a lot of snow into the winter months or blue ice on the plateau. That may seem boring to some but the ice can be such a contrast to the surroundings that a photo just does not do any justice.

During the summer we were lucky enough to be taken out in the IRB’s on berg cruises and were privileged to some spectacular scenes and colours that are just breathtaking, you find that you tend to pinch yourself as you float past these mammoth pieces of glacial ice, as you can see in some of the pics that we had some guest penguins join us for the occasion as well.

But it is not just the glacial ice bergs that draw our attention to the ice, frozen fresh water lakes have a whole different depth of spectacular scenery. As the lake freezes it traps air bubbles and also crack from the expansion of the ice as it is freezing and creates a very surreal scene.

During the summer months when the sun is at its peak, the plateau ice will melt on the surface causing melt steams to flow down into the ocean or down into the fresh water lakes. When the temperature drops, which happens quite rapidly the ice freezes and creates these small frozen waterfalls.

Davis Blizzards

After a slow start to the blizzard season, Davis finally received its first blizzard last month followed by another three with the last one being the most severe and striking last Monday.

A blizzard is defined as a one minute wind average greater or equal to 34 knots for one hour and at any stage during that one hour period the visibility has to have dropped to less than 100 metres whilst the temperature is below zero degrees Celsius.

Blizzards aren’t as common at Davis as they are at Casey or Mawson because Davis is further south. Davis receives on average 7.3 blizzards a year. Being further south, Davis is further away from the low pressure systems sweeping across our north which create the blizzards. But this wasn’t the case last Monday when the centre of the low pressure system tracked directly over Davis waking most of the station up in the early hours of the morning and creating the highest wind gust of 86 knots at 9:30 that morning. By late afternoon it was all over.

During a blizzard, snow on the ground gets moved around and deposits downwind of solid objects (such as buildings) and forms what are called “blizz tails”. A blizz tail is a mound of compacted snow which usually begins a foot or two from the solid object and slowly tapers off in a downwind direction. The turbulence downwind of the solid object can shape the compacted snow at the beginning of a blizz tail into some interesting shapes such as the “snow pipe” in the photo. The problem at Davis is a lot of blizz tails that form after blizzards cover roads. This keeps the plant operators busy for several days at a time after a blizzard clearing roads by “pushing snow” with groomers and Bobcats.

Craig Butsch