First blizzard for the year and…

A jam-packed schedule

It’s been a busy couple of weeks at Mawson!

After settling in after the Voyage 3 resupply, we experienced our first Mawson snow blizzard on the weekend of 15–16 February. The winds on station peaked at 105 knots (194 kilometres per hour), with the average above 80 knots (148 kilometres per hour).

These gale force south-easterlies endured for the bulk of the weekend, with many deep pockets of snow forming across the station. For many of us, it was our first taste of an Antarctic blizzard and a good shakedown on the necessary requirements for safe travel around station.

Having said that, we've since been blessed with some fantastic ‘late summer’ weather! We’ve had nearly five days of pure sunshine with low winds (less than 20 knots), allowing our infrastructure and mechanical teams time to get some important outside work completed before the bad weather returns. The good weather has also brought some welcome animal visitors, with a rare sighting of a chinstrap penguin and two fur seals! (see the great pictures below).

As well as focusing on individual work areas, we've all been busy completing various Search And Rescue (SAR) training requirements to facilitate off-station travel. These include SAR equipment issue, familiarisation exercises for our technical SAR team members, and surgical refresher training for our Lay Surgical Assistants (LSAs).

This training culminated in a successful station search exercise last Friday (22 Feb), ensuring we are now fully prepared to support field operations. Our field operations will commence with survival and field travel training for all. This involves heading off-station for 3 days and 2 nights into the Masson Range, south of Mawson. Led by our Field Training Officer Ian, we will learn how travel safely in Antarctica using quad bikes and key field survival skills.

In other work area news, Mawson also recently played a central part in the groundbreaking Global Digital Health Partnership Symposium Satellite Telehealth demonstration. This live linkup between delegates in India and Mawson research station was coordinated by the Antarctic Division’s Head of Polar Medicine Dr Jeff Ayton and Mawson Medical Officer Dr Jan Wallace. The linkup successfully demonstrated the key capabilities of telehealth in a remote environment, with the challenges of limited bandwidth and telecommunications infrastructure.

And to finish this station update on a lighter note…on Monday each week, we have a 'Cooking Slushy'. Cooking Slushy is Antarctic slang for stand-in Chef, whose job it is to feed us for the day whilst our regular Chef Kim enjoys a well-earned day off. This week’s Cooking Slushy Tom C opened up ‘Café At Toms’, producing the unplanned outcome of serving deep-fried chips at every meal. The subsequent excess of deep-fried chips at Mawson has been sure to send McCain’s Chips shares through the roof! (see the official analysis graph below with thanks to Chris G!).

If you're in the neighbourhood and want to drop in, there’s enough chips for the $4 Chip Special till at least 2020...

Kyle (Station Leader)