A quick personal note:
- Massive thanks to KJ for helping to deliver our content and work around our limited internet here at Scott Base.
- A great challenge of working down here is keeping up with loved ones back home. The distance and isolation can create lots of difficult scenarios to manage but ultimately a great support network here helps it all along. I’d like to thank you for following along and I’ll ask you to continue to surge love to my family as we endure some difficult times.
Our first few days here at Scott Base are spent getting acclimatised, working on our field plan with Scott Base support staff and pilots and reacquainting ourselves with how to operate outside. We were also greeted by a small band of penguins on our first morning!
Getting acclimatised means eating and drinking enough to stay happy. Antarctica is the driest place on Earth. This means you must drink way more water than you think is necessary! We also eat a lot…we supplement breakfast, lunch and dinner with morning and afternoon tea which also serves as a. great meeting place to discuss further planning. As in ‘normal’ life I also keep ‘pocket snacks’.
Working on our field plan with Scott Base support staff is an ever-evolving activity. This is the nature of work here and highlights the need for flexibility. Upon arrival, we have a in brief which helps bring all team members up to speed and allows us to develop multiple plans of action. At our in brief, we were able to discuss scientific priorities and realistic expectations for how to achieve our goals. We identified our training and support needs and developed a handy checklist for our daily operations. Thanks to the POLENET team, we have excellent reconnaissance imagery for our main priority site which we can share with our pilots. This is particularly useful to minimise surprises at our first site visit.
In order to be prepared for unknown conditions such as glacier crevasses or quick changing weather, we practice glacier travel and team work. This includes having a play around with critical gear such as ropes (knots!), harnesses, helmets, crampons, boots and above all effective communication. With some guidance from our excellent mountaineers, we then practice glacier travel. Glacier travel is basically learning how to walk on a glacier as a group. The importance here is staying safe in what could be a dangerous situation. We minimise our risks by roping up and walking in a coordinated way. A ‘crevasse simulator’ is a great way to simulate a situation where a team member inadvertently falls into a crevasse. While this practice is done in optimal conditions it’s a great way to refamiliarize ourselves with the feeling of holding the weight of another person as they hang off an ice edge. The simulator is effectively a ~15 ft. hole dug out by a digger and
Finally, once we feel comfortable as a team we can test our sampling equipment before ‘game time’. Check out the video for a snapshot of our drilling operations…we hope to use this drill in the field to collect small rock cores which we expect will help us with our overall science goal of understanding the long term (thousands of years!) changes along some of the largest glaciers in the world. The test was successful on the local rock here on Ross Island but the true test will be on the rocks we plan to visit which are much harder and the conditions are likely to be a bit chillier.
As for now, we are ready to go into the field and will continuously update our ‘to-do’ list and work with Scott Base operations team to find a suitable logistical and weather window to conduct our first field visit. Stay tuned for updates and send us some good luck to get into it!
As always, got a question, ask it!