A field trip to fix an automatic weather station and an alternate view on training

A trip inland from Mawson Station

Sunday morning, April 12, saw four expeditioners (Trevor, Rob, Angus and John B) set off from Mawson at 8:30am in a Hägglunds, heading to the automatic weather station (AWS) 45 kilometres inland of the station.

The sky was blue and clear, but with the temperature below minus 20 and the wind above 30 knots we were all appreciative of the shelter and warmth provided by the vehicle we were in.

We followed the Henderson cane line almost as far as the hut, before branching off and heading into the white emptiness beyond. Using GPS we made our way across the sastrugi-covered snow for 25 kilometres, Russell Nunatak (an ice dome) the only feature in an otherwise flat, white landscape. The wind increased as we neared the AWS, creating a knee high ground drift of blowing snow.

We arrived at the AWS at 11:30am, three hours after leaving Mawson, and Trevor and Angus (Comms and Met techs respectively) set to work downloading data. Half the download went well but a broken capacitor in the data recorder which records sub-surface snow temperatures (down to 12 metres) necessitated the removal of the recorder and return to Mawson for repair. At 600 metres elevation the site is much colder than Mawson and the temperature, with wind chill, was estimated to be in the minus 30s. At such temperatures, thoughts of doing precise repairs to circuit boards are quickly dismissed.

We departed the AWS at 1:00pm and, with our outward tracks to follow, made steady progress back to Mawson, arriving at 4:00pm.

Training and Lego

Showing great enthusiasm for Lego, Linc suggests some new uses for it…

“With safety always an important factor for any activity that takes place in Antarctica, I believe there is a tool that, so far, has been severely underutilised. That tool is Lego! Lego provides any expeditioner with a totally flexible, three dimensional platform that can model anything from a small maintenance job to major infrastructure works.

“It isn’t just the workplace that can benefit from Lego; all manner of training can now be achieved. It can be used in search and rescue preparation, for firefighting logistics, or for safety briefings. It can be used in medical emergencies* or it can be used to plan a major celebration like midwinter. The list of opportunities is practically endless. You no longer need to leave the comfort of the accommodation building for any training!

“It isn’t even limited to just Antarctica. Lego could be used in the corporate workplace too. You could have a pre-meeting meeting and use Lego to organise where everyone will sit in the meeting. Imagine the time saving!

“So next time you need a tool to wow your workplace think Lego!”

*No Lego animals were harmed in making of this report