Making water when you're surrounded by ice

How do you make water when everything is frozen?

Davis station. The sparkling jewel of the Australian Antarctic Program. From its rocky peaks, thick sea ice, copious amounts of wildlife and several huts to visit, it’s all there to be explored. It has been an absolute privilege to be stationed here.

But there is one major challenge in the location of Davis station. We have no fresh water! Without harpooning an iceberg or installing 14 kilometres of pipework to Lake Druzhby, Davis solely relies on the reverse osmosis (RO) to produce its water supply. The RO draws its water from the Tarn. The Tarn is a small body of salt water located on the edge of station, which becomes increasingly more saline (much like Mawson’s darts team) after every passing season, and eventually needs to be drained and refilled with fresh sea water. Luckily this task fell upon the 73rd ½ + ANARE.

With the temperatures hitting the low twenties and clear weather at Davis, it was a perfect time to start the arduous yet character building task of pumping out our beloved Tarn. After 5 days working back to back shifts, the tarn had been emptied taking 70 hours, 8 pump breakdowns, 4 frozen hoses and one fuel mix up.

But the job is only half done. We are now faced with the bigger task of filling it back up. One thing is for certain, you can rely on the Davis trades team to get the job done.

John Kilmartin