Last Sunday we began our sea ice drilling program for 2014. The sea ice at Mawson has been measured at four specific locations for the last 40 years and analysis of the data has provided much valuable information for scientists. Additionally, before the sea ice is open for general vehicle traffic we need to establish its thickness and quality. This started a couple of weeks ago when we walked onto Horseshoe Harbour and drilled several holes.
With the harbour ice now measuring around 800 mm it was time to venture further afield as soon we will need to travel to the Auster and Taylor rookeries for the annual penguin census.Heidi, Chris, Jose and myself headed off on quads with the plan to drill multiple holes around Mawson. It was also an opportunity for me to hone my trip leadership skills. We successfully drilled ten holes on the way to Bechervaise Island. While Heidi camped out in an ultralight tent (it must be a field training officer thing), the rest of us stayed the night in a googie-style hut. These spaceship like huts are also used by the Australian Antarctic Division at Davis and Macquarie Island. The one on Bechervaise was originally erected on Heard Island around 1990 and is in excellent condition.
The next day we continued our drilling with ten more holes and a short run along the Macey Route. The ice measured from 800 mm to 1100 mm thick, strong enough to support larger vehicles.
With the wind picking up and all now feeling the cold, we returned to Mawson to unpack and submit our results.
Andy Burgess, Trainee Trip Leader