One of the most enjoyable aspects of science over winter in Antarctica is it’s an all-of-station activity. Because of the small number of expeditioners on Antarctic stations and cut off supply lines, we don’t have the luxury of a team dedicated to the task of installing instruments or collecting samples for science. We also don’t have easy logistics for a supplier to repair or replace a piece of critical equipment. Instead we draw upon the people we have on station. Sometimes it’s to help build or repair an instrument, and often it’s to provide extra hands in the field to complete a task.
There are a number of longer term science projects in the Davis station area that come around each year at the same time, driven by the changing environment with the seasons. This week it has been the deployment of sea ice instruments, repair of an Automated Weather Station on an island and testing of a new hot water drill for removal of instruments embedded in the ice at the end of the season. This was all enabled by the sea ice freezing to a thickness that enables easy vehicle travel, and a reasonable level of comfort that we won’t lose all the instruments with the sea ice in the wind. The downside of this time of year, is we’re largely working in the dark due to the sun never getting above the horizon. But where else do you get to spend a day with the chef melting holes in the sea?!