Samstag, 3. November 2012

The morning of departure

There are a lot of unwritten laws in nature and in experimental science. After the one that sais 'what can go wrong, will go wrong' there is the one that sais 'and the probabability that it will happen always is higher towards the end'. We discovered a problem in the newly installed sensor of the eddy covariance of course on our last trip to the station on the glacier before my departure. It meant we had to take it down again, and also of course there was a snow storm the next day which made it impossible for us to leave the station. So in order to take the sensor down again and bring it back from Antarctica for repair purposes, we left early in the morning of my departure day counting on that the helicopter wasn't going to arrive before 9am. Thanks to the excellent support of Campbell Scientific, we had everything prepared so that setting up our exchange sensor for the interim time. We made good time in a beautiful morning setting of light on the glacier and the Potter cove. 
Be back soon!!! 

Work and life

Working in such a fascinating environment is a pleasure despite the harsh conditions, like the cold and the strong winds that can blow you off your feet, but also the isolation of the place and the contraints of moving space. 
So whenever the weather and work permits, it is of course a pleasure but also necessary to go out and enjoy!

A walk on the ice

In early October, the divers and the overwintering scientist Damián at the Carlini base made an excursion onto the sea ice near the glacier calving front of the Fourcade glacier. This seemed a perfect opportunity to take some GPS points of the glacier front to use for referencing satellite image data. In the summer campaign 2010/2011, Hilke had done measurements of the front to quantify calving processes. Just from comparing the visual impression with memory, it was impressive how much

the glacier calving front had collapsed! The divers had already reported the appearance of three new islands in the early winter of 2012.  
The colors of the ice are nevertheless really beautiful in their different shades of blue and white. Before the background of the Tres Hermanos, the Three-Brother hill, the red housings of Carlini station give a nice spot of color in these beautiful landscape. 

Donnerstag, 4. Oktober 2012

Carlini wildlife

The following day, the glacier was covered in clouds and the strong
winds did not allow to do any sophisticated work on the glacier
stations. So we stayed at the base, preparing upcoming work and using a
small window with less winds and a bit of sun to have a look at the
nearby sea elephants and the frozen Potter cove. The landscape just
looks amazing with the ice sculpures forming from sea ice due to tidal
movements, some even show a certain resemblance to gigantic pancakes.

Installation of the eddy covaricance sensor

After 6 months of preparations and great support by Campbell Scientific
and AWI logistics, the overwintering scientist, Damián López, and i
finally installed the sensor to measure the water vapor and carbon
dioxide content of air back to the eddy covariance system.
Upon arrival, we found the stations covered by the hoar frost of the
last storm. At least, we had an exceptionally beautiful day for the
There still is a lot of work to be done on the stations, but now we are
finally measuring again. The recorded turbulence data is needed for the
validation of our modeling efforts.

Arrival at Carlini

The arrival to the Argentine station on King George Island was very
smooth. The Chilean Hercules left at 8:20 on September 25. after
arriving on the Fieldes Peninsula, King George Island, i just waited
about an hour at the landing strip for the weather to clear up so that
the helicopter could take of. It was an amazing flight over the frozen
cove in front of the Russian and the Chilean bases, Bellingshausen and
Frei. The welcome in Carlini was really warm. The freight was send to
KGI with a Brazilian flight and didn't arrive the same day but was
brought two days later with a Twin to the glacier.

Montag, 24. September 2012


This is now the 4th time, i am on my way to King George Island. Traveling to this island is always an adventure for itself and it seems, i am taking a different route each time. This time my way included a train ride to the airport in Frankfurt, Germany, the plane over the Atlantic to Buenos Aires in Argentina. Since working on the glacier impedes trusting your life to the others connected to you through a rope, we have developed a very close working relationship within the Glaciology group as well as a bond of friendship. So the time in Buenos Aires was meant to work together on the data for scientific publications as well as coordinating our work schedules. For a normal campaign, we would be going together as a group. But this time, i travel because the main sensor of the eddy covariance station needed to be disassembled and sent to Campbell Scientific, US, for repairs. The sensor got sent back directly to Punta Arenas and Chile, where i will pick it up to reinstall and prepare everything for the upcoming summer. 
From Buenos Aires, i took the flight to Rio Gallegos, a place that last January we were stranded for about three weeks. So i didn't really want to linger but took the next bus to Punta Arenas in Chile. The road is somewhat uneventful, flat and empty, except for maybe one or two ranch houses, some wildlife in the bushy grasslands, and maybe a few trees torn by the strong Patagonian wind. My last day in Buenos Aires had been sunny and 26 degrees Celsius, my arrival in Punta
Arenas was with snow fall and heavy wind around 0 degrees. Although later it cleared off and i could enjoy an afternoon at the beach with perfect sun but of course very strong winds. I will have to get used to that again, not the sun (you don't see it often on King George Island) but the strong winds that nearly blow you off your feet.
So now, i am waiting for the flight with the Hercules run by the Chilean Military, to bring me to Frei where there is a landing slip. From there, the further road is unclear. It will either be the Argentinean boats picking me up. Although this is not probable, since the sea near the coast is frozen and it is impossible to navigate these days. The second option is to go either by Helicopter and land at the base of Carlini, or the Twin which has skies attached so it can land on the glacier, where i would then be picked up. And I can't wait to arrive :)

Mittwoch, 8. Februar 2012

news from the glacier group

After our rather late arrival at Jubany station, we first had to deal
with several problems connected to the last overwintering crew like
missing or broken equipment. But after a two weeks time of
reorganization and a lot of help of the station's crew, we found
ourselves in the middle of a very nice and smooth campaign.
Our glacier group comprises Hilke, Gunter and me from Bonn and Eugenio
and Hernan from Buenos Aires. Our work went really smooth due to our
great group work, the extensive help from the base mechanics and other
crew and last but not least to the exceptionally good weather! Sunshine
on Potter glacier - it is really amazing! So, we found ourselves in the
midst of a very successful campaign although with a reduced program, and
now we are about to finalize our work for the winter time.