I like to move it, move it…

Katie Joy | 15 Dec 2019

The last few days have been quite busy for everyone in the team with some key field movements happening.

On Friday (13th) Romain and fieldguide Taff were input to the last campsite we visited earlier in January 2019, and where our depot site was located. More from them in the next blog post… Their mission was to dig up the depot, get all the skidoos working, and start sending loads over to Geoff, Wouter and fieldguide Rob at the new camp site.

Geoff, Wouter and Rob meanwhile were sitting pretty at the Outer Recovery site waiting for the first loads of inputs to be delivered. Yesterday, two skidoos, sledges and rescue kits were delivered in by Twin Otter pilots Mark and Dutch, along with some much welcome snacks and baby wipes. They have journeyed over to collect the science kit that was dropped off, and have scouted a new potential camp site close to the icefields where we want to work. I think, after a week of sitting around building igloos, they are excited to start working.

The plan for the next few days (weather permitting) is to ensure that there is fuel at the local depot site, then get the rest of the kit over to Geoff and Wouter, and transport Taff and Romain over to Geoff. In the meantime I am sitting at Halley drinking a lot of tea and generally plumping up on all the amazing food watching remotely news on the guys work hard in the field. Hopefully I will fly out on the last load of science equipment to join everyone when they have the camp suitably set up for my arrival 😉

Halley modules looming out of the mist. [Credit: Katie Joy]

The weather has been pretty foggy here at Halley, giving the modules an eerie look like a spacestation on an alien world. The staff on site have been working hard to raise the buildings up out of the accumulated snow which was deposited in the Antarctic winter. The Brunt icesheet normally gets 1 to 2 metres of snow in the winder season, quickly burying the structures like the Drewry accommodation building photographed below. Over the coming weeks the modules themselves will be raised up so that they are rising over the surrounding area rather than looking like they are sitting on ground level.

Drewry building, currently sitting lower than the surrounding snow level which has accumulated over winter. The plan for tomorrow is to raise the structure up onto the surrounding surface. Image: KJoy.

… and the first part of the team are heading out …

5 Dec 2019

Geoff and Romain are currently on a plane with field guide Rob starting their journey to the field… the plan (as always with Antarctic fieldwork) is complicated and they will now be transiting to the Outer Recovery ice fields, first, via Sky Blu field station (where Geoff visited last year), and then, by way of BAS’s Halley research station (where Katie visited last year).

The preliminary plan at the moment is that Wouter will fly out next with a lot of our science kit, and Katie will go on a final plane load, and we will reunite with field guide Taff at the field site. More updates when the next one of us catches a plane! For now happy flying to Geoff and Romain — the weather is stunning today so they should get a good view out of the window.

Twin Otter taxiing down the Rothera runway. [Credit: Katie Joy]
Team meteorite about to head to the field. From left: Katie and Wouter (still in Rothera), field guide Rob, Geoff and Romain (both en route to the field) and co-pilot Tom (who is Halley bound).

Back at Rothera and heading towards home

Katie Joy | 06 Feb 2019

A quick update to say that we arrived safely back at Rothera Research Station around 9 pm last night. Vicky put in an amazing effort to get us back from Halley on the Twin Otter all in one day with bad weather swirling around. Goodbye to Halley and the fab team of people who are working really hard there to wrap up the end of their season of work. Thanks so much to all for making our field season a success and for your hospitality looking after us so well.

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Goodbye to Halley research station — now raised up on its legs higher than when we came through just before New Year.

The views on route as we winged our way west were amazing out of the window (when I wasn’t snoozing) and we got a great view of the mountains close to Fossil Bluff through the mist and also saw a glory in the mist layer (see photo and caption for more). On flights like this, you realise how big Antarctica is and how flat and white and expansive most of the landscape is — just miles and miles of sastrugi-covered snow surfaces, with the occasional crevasse or rocky nunatak to break the horizon.

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Stunning mountain tops on route with long shadows as the austral summer comes to an end and some twilight starts to return
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Fully circular “rainbow” seen from the plane in the mist layer — more properly called a Glory

Rothera has changed somewhat since we were last here, with the new wharf works ongoing, but there are a few seals swimming around in the bay. Today has been a day of sorting out shipping and items to get back home before I am due to fly back tomorrow on the Dash 7 back to Punta and then onto the UK over the weekend.