Arrival at Rothera

Katie Joy | 27 Nov 2019

The four person team all successfully arrived yesterday in Rothera, the British Antarctic Survey’s largest research station. We flew in with other summer visitors on the Dash 7 aircraft, a flight of about 4.5 hours from Punta Arenas at the southern tip of Chile. The flight over the Southern Ocean was pretty cloudy, but we got a good view of the bay surrounding Adelaide island, where Rothera is based. We could spot elephant seals lounging on the icebergs and sea ice below. After some arrival briefings, we found our rooms and met up with our field guide, Taff, who will be leading our fieldwork. 

The view east from Rothera Point towards Lauberf Fjord [Credit: Katie Joy]

We have spent much of today training — from how to take meteorological observations to help the pilots understand field cloud and visibility conditions (note this is meteorology, that is what the weather is doing, not meteoritics, the study of meteorites!), through to how to take care of ourselves in the cold, and safety around aircraft. Wouter and Romain have undertaken an introduction to fieldwork and are camping out tonight on the slopes above the base to test their putting-up-a-tent skills and, for them, to get their first experience of remote fieldwork food (more from them tomorrow). The weather today is stunning — the temperature is just below zero, the sky is blue and the wind is low, so hopefully they should have a peaceful first night out. In the meantime, Geoff and I have been meeting with the field ops managers to discuss the plan for getting us, and all of our kit (we have a lot of it), out to the field. It’s a complex task for the team here to plan how to deploy aircraft in changeable weather situations for us and other field teams operating in the remote field this season. We have started unpacking the cargo boxes we sent down earlier in the summer to check the condition of the metal detector equipment. The plan for the next couple of days is to get everything tested, both the electronics for the detection system and the towing apparatus for dragging the detector panels over the ice, pack it all up again, and prepare our cargo manifest to help plan the field transfer.

Geoff checks the cargo has arrived safely [Credit: Katie Joy]

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