This week we feature the important work of weather observation at Mawson; and our night owls capture more brilliant aurora australis action. Enjoy!

Day in the life of a weather observer at Mawson

This week we kick off our ‘A day in the life of’ picture episodes, featuring the work of different work programs and teams here at Mawson this season.

This episode features the work of Mark Austin the Bureau of Meteorology Weather Observer. The work of the Bureau of Meteorology is one of the longest continuous science projects on Australian Antarctic research stations and Mark explains why this work is so important on a local and global scale.

Check out his amazing useless fact below…

1. In 25 words (more or less) what is your job at Mawson station?

Measure lots of interesting meteorological stuff, observe and contemplate the sky to figure out ‘what it all means', capture and bottle pure Antarctic air and launch big weather balloons!

2. Why is your job important?

At the local level weather impacts every aspect of Antarctic operations from flying to resupply, field operations and training, science projects to the operation of site services and vehicles or even just moving safely around stations. Accurate and useful observations and forecasts are essential for planning and depend on the high quality data we produce.

On the global scale Mawson is a strategically significant climate reference station and our 70 year data sets are invaluable in monitoring variations in climate, increasing CO2 levels and many other important factors. And hey it’s cool to play your part in such a large long running science project that relies on global cooperation and sharing of information and that really benefits us all.

As far as the value to the Australian community recent independent analysis of the economic impact of the Bureau of Meteorology showed every dollar spent returned 12 dollars — not a bad investment I reckon.

3. What is the best part of your job at Mawson?

I’m an extreme weather junky so blizzards are a definite favourite — launching weather balloons in 70 knot winds sure gets the adrenaline pumping and makes you feel alive, and I really love the blowing snow and how you get to see the complex aerodynamics of the atmosphere in motion.

4.  What do you like the least about your workday?

I’m a Darwin boy so the truth is I don’t much like the cold, and with a difference of 40+ degrees between outside and inside I spend way too much time getting dressed and undressed. Thongs, stubbies and a t-shirt are my normal uniform (Territory formal wear!)

5. How did you end up doing this job in Antarctica?

Long story, but I've been fascinated by the Antarctic since I was a youngster. So after careers as a pilot and in air traffic control and IT, I read an advertisement for Met Observer and when I found the job would allow me to indulge my unhealthy obsession with storms and cyclones and also work in the Antarctic I thought — that’s for me!

6. Give me one useless fact about your role as a Met Observer…

The weather balloons we launch everyday rise to 35km high (into the stratosphere), three times higher than a commercial airliner. When these balloons burst they are the size of a house.

7. If someone wanted to be a Met Observer in Antarctica what would you suggest they do?

Recruitment of Met Observers has reduced dramatically over recent years with the adoption of new technology and automation, however more external contractors are being recruited to fulfil the roles of Met Observer/Met Technician in the Antarctic. So if you’re interested in working in the Antarctic have a background in science, engineering, IT or aviation then contact the Bureau of Meteorology in Hobart to discuss and apply for the positions that are advertised every year — you never know your luck.

Mawson shines after dark – April aurora highlights

Mawson’s night skies were illuminated throughout April with brilliant aurora australis activity.

Sometimes it felt like the sky had burst into psychedelic colour, and our creative night owls were out after dark to capture these amazing auroral images featuring the unique landscape and history of Mawson station. Aurora chasers enjoy…