Samstag, 27. November 2010

Successful conclusion of our field trip to King George Island

The automatic weather stations needed some more work like removing bugs from programming of data loggers and smaller changes in installations. After that, we finalized the installation of our transects of mass balance stakes including measurements with differential GPS and snow layer parameters. We installed our camera system along the beach that will hopefully yield estimates of glacier calving by photogrammetric analysis.

Our way back to the continent would be an eventful trip with the Zodiacs to Russian Bellingshausen station right next to the Chilean Frei Station at Maxwell Bay. On the way, we got the chance to visit the Korean station. We took the Chilean military flight with a Hercules out to Punta Arenas far in the South of Chile. Next week, we will be again in Buenos Aires, the starting point of our exciting travel, meeting up with colleagues from the Argentine Antarctic Research Institute and other friends we got to know, to exchange data and to discuss joint works for our next field trip. This will be February / March next year, not too far away, and we are already looking forward to a lot more great experiences and interesting work.


Mittwoch, 17. November 2010

Hanging out ...

Here's a nice view on a relaxing seal from Barton glacier on the other side of Potter cove. We drove with the skidoos on the glacier around the bay to install transects of aluminum stakes for mass balance measurements.



Dienstag, 16. November 2010

Successful installation and start of micrometeorological measurements on Potter Glacier, Warszawa Icefield

On Friday 12 November 2010, we started the meteorological measurements on Potter Glacier. The past two days, we have beautiful weather and sunshine. Next to working on removing all bugs from programming and installation of our automatic site, we started with differential GPS measurements and installing transects of mass balance stakes on the ice dome of "our" glacier.




Donnerstag, 11. November 2010

Set-up of an Automatic Weather Station on Potter Glacier, Warszawa Icefield

The first two days here were exceptionally good weather as it turns out. We found a nice place for the set-up of our station, did the transport of all equipment and started with the installation of masts. During the following days the weather turned back to 'normal' with heavy winds and low cloud cover. As it turned out, our site was situated just a bit too high on the glacier, and every time, Matthias and I went to our site, the snow drift started just about a hundred meters before our measurement site.. So we digged out the mast tripods, herings and cases that were by then covered with a thick snow layer, and moved the whole equipment to a new site a bit lower. A lot of work but with the promise of more days with good working conditions. These are few anyway.

Since nearly all heavy material is now on the glacier, we park our skidoos at the end of a snow field near the beach and walk home. This makes a wonderful start and end of a working day, since it is a beautiful shore with a grand panorama on the glacier. We walk by penguins, sea elephants and see a lot of sea birds sailing against the wind. 

We used the bad weather yesterday for extra preparations and the calibration of our eddy covariance system. This directly measures atmospheric turbulence and fluxes of energy like latent and sensible heat as well as carbon dioxide. Today is just another day with heavy winds. Nevertheless, we went to our site but the glacier was in a thick cloud layer as low as 200m or less. The multiple reflections between snow cover and cloud layer make it impossible to see any contours (also called 'white out'). We drove to our station by GPS. Since within the clouds the winds were heavily loaded with graupel and snow pellets, work was impossible without getting snow and humidity into every piece of equipment.

For tomorrow the forecast looks good, and we hope to get everything up and running by then.

Sonntag, 7. November 2010

Starting with the glacier work

We used the first two days to start the work on the glacier, in especially we started to build a deposit of equipment at the beginning of the glacier, since we expect the snow to melt and transportation from Jubany station to the glacier will become a lot more difficult. We fixed a position forthe automatic weather stations and already started with the setup. By the way, driving skidoos is a lot of fun.

Samstag, 6. November 2010

The voyage to King George Island

On October 22 finally our voyage with the Russian ship Polar Pioneer
from Mar del Plata to King George Island began. It would be longer
than we thought before. Accompanied by Dolphins we made an emergency
stop at the Falkland Islands since one of the crew members for the
Polish station got sick, unfortunately the Chef de Cuisine.
On the passage, there was not very much else to do but eat and sleep
and watching a stunning amount of seabirds, at least the first days
while we tried to adjust to the very impressive movements of the ship.
It took a few days before the body adjusted and reading or working on
the computer was even thinkable without getting weird symptoms in the
belly. We saw different kinds of Albatross (Black Browed, Grey Headed,
Yellow Nosed), Giant and Cape Petrels, Brown Falkland Skuas, Rock
The Drake passage went pretty smoothly but low pressure systems
finally caught up with us on arrival in winter of King George Island,
where we also encountered our first Icebergs and Chinstrapped
Penguins. At Lions Ramp we picked up some Polish scientists and had a
great view on first Penguin colonies, Adelie and Gentoo penguins.
Winds picked up to over 20 meters per second and the waves got so
rough that the unloading of provision and fuel for the Polish
Arctowski station in Admirality bay had to be given up. For the next
three days we would be circling around the bay, waiting for the
weather to change. Also here wonderful view on the wild life with
Antarctic Cormorants, Snow Petrel, Large Skuas and Antarctic Terns and
Leopard Seals, Southern Fulmar and Sea Lions. Monday the 1st, we could
finally visit the station to view some relicts of whales and other, as
well as having finally a closer look at the nearby Penguin Colonies
and a Wedell seals relaxing at the beach.
On November 2nd, we finally arrived at our destination Jubany station,
where the unloading of our cargo turned out to be some kind of
adventure. The winds did not calm until after noon to still as much as
10 meters per second, and at 1400 we finally began loading our
equipment onto the Zodiacs, which then were received by the Argentine
colleages at the beach of Jubany. In the course of the work winds
started to pick up again. Since the Russian boat had a tight schedule,
it was not clear until at very last, if and how the disembarkment of
the Skidoos, Matthias and my equipment for the work on the Potter
Glacier, could be pursuit without risking an overturn of the Zodiak
with the two Russian seamen. Fortunately, these guys were experts in
work under difficult conditions with Bravour and we were all happy
about the smooth work.

Now, after a great tour to the station by the Chief of Base and after
having checked the equipment and preparations for a possible soon
first excursion to Potter Glacier, we find us again waiting for the
weather to change. The winds are shaking our domicile, and being
outside means to lean steeply against the wind in order not to get
blown away. Still we hope for a somewhat calm day as we did before ..

Donnerstag, 21. Oktober 2010

top secret in Mar del Plata ...

leaving Buenos Aires by bus direction to Mar del Plata was pretty uneventful. First, I was a bit anxious to sleep in order not to miss anything, but the landscape turned out to be infinetely vast and flat and flood, a birders paradise. To other people it might relate pretty boring after some time. And time we had enough since the bus ride was nearly six hours..
On arrival in Mar del Plata, we passed really nice suburbs and took three (due to our tremendous amount of luggage) taxis to our hotel. This is the foto of one of them taken from the following...
 as I said: a LOT of luggage ...
 but we were rewarded with an ocean view from the terrace of our appartment..
 (a really big terrace ;-)
and a beautiful shoreline. The Atlantik here is a bit rougher, but our efforts of travelling so far were rewarded with a beautiful day on the coast, since on arrival we learned that our ship was two days late and we could spend an hour at the beach today. 
Just in time before a big thunderstorm set in in the afternoon. Weather still is somewhat stormy and rainy, and we are anticipating a pretty rough journey on ship not to mention expectations of an even rougher journey through the Drake Passage. Expected wave heights amount to up to 8m ...