This week at Davis: 6 December 2019

An update on infrastructure work and science happening at Davis

Tank update — New 600,000 litre tank rises from the ground!

The new 600,000 litre potable water tank construction project at Davis is well underway with preliminary ground works, back-fill and other preparations paving the way for the first of the external walls this week.

Water as you might be surprised to discover, is a precious resource in Antarctica, particularly at Davis, where the wide expanses of the Vestfold Hills thwart our ability to harvest water directly from the icy plateau beyond.

The much-needed addition to the Davis station water storage capabilities will help to alleviate the need for a drought relief package, allowing expedition members to forego the customary ice baths we all enjoy so much!

With some favourable weather on the horizon, we aim to have the steel frame and wall sheets erected by Christmas, along with scaffolding, bracing and wind girders.

- Tom Jurs (Summer Building Services Supervisor) 

The tanks first, grey wall panels held firmly in position by scaffolding
Walls — essential components of any tank claiming to effectively store water — begin to emerge.
(Photo: Patrick James)

Sea ice science at Davis

With summer at Davis in full swing, it’s a real treat to escape the bustle, get out in the field and participate in the long running fast ice monitoring program, headed by sea ice physicist Dr Petra Heil.

Fast ice extends from the coast out into the ocean for tens of kilometres or more during winter. Throughout the course of each season, the over-wintering party will undertake a weekly drilling schedule at set waypoints, gathering valuable data from the measurements taken.

Although most of us at Davis aren’t scientists, this project affords us all a wonderful opportunity to make a tangible contribution to the station’s science program.

A few days after this trip, several days of gale force winds caused a strong receding of the fast ice edge, effectively wrapping up the project for the next four to five months — so the seasons go.

- Patrick James 

Dan and Mike drilling a fast ice way-point in front of their pink Hägglunds vehicle
Dan, Mike and the pink Hägglunds “Opal”
(Photo: Patrick James)
Engineer Mike crouches over a drill hole while checking its depth with a measuring tape.
Mike measuring the ice thickness, snow cover depth, and free-board.
(Photo: Patrick James)
A black flag and bamboo cane in the foreground signify the drilling point amid an ocean of white sea ice and blue icebergs
A flagged bamboo cane marks the drilling waypoint
(Photo: Patrick James)