Monday, January 18, 2010

Penguins, a crevasse, dinner with a legend, fresh snow, a sightseeing tour, and FINALLY some SCIENCE!!!

WEll, it really has been a jam-packed, fun-filled adventure down here in the deep south. Sunday's around Scott Base are typically reserved for activities outside of the normal routine and often various people organise FAM (or familiarisation trips), and these are held, of course, after the 10-12 brunch - which, by the way, includes waffels to die for!!! So, a trip was planned to head out to the ice fall to go for a walk on a glacier. This sounded like a pretty cool adventure to me, so I joined the trip. We did a bit of training in the morning, which included learning about the importance of travelling in pairs/groups when walking on a glacier, harnessing up, learning how to tie 50 million different types of knots into one length of rope, and then prussiking up a rope (basically climbing up and down a rope with 'minimal' effort). It definately looked easier than it was, but it was great fun to, as well as being a rewarding achievment! On our way out to the ice fall we came across four Adelie penguins making their way across the ice shelf .. they were gorgeous .. and surprisingly quick!

The ever-so-cute Adelie penguins we passed on our way out to the ice fall

Adelie penguins!

All lined up and on their way

Being lowered into the unknown

Exploring the crevasse


A beautifully decorated crevasse

Hanging out around the crevasse holes

All roped together and returning from our crevassing adventure

Sunday roast with a legend in our presence - Sir David Attenborough joined us at Scott Base for dinner

Monday morning - we woke to a dusting of fresh snow over everything

Heading off on a sightseeing tour out along Hut Point Peninsula

Castle Rock shrouded in cloud

A snack in the snow

Back in the hugglund and headed for home

After the adventures of the past 6 days, it was finally time to knuckle down and make a start on the wind farm monitoring project. Jana and I headed up to the wind farm this afternoon and began by carrying out the photo-monitoring (replicating photos taken in the last two seasons - 07/08 and 08/09 and comparing the images to analyse change in the disturbance around the turbine sites). It was windy and cold on site, and the sun was hidden by cloud. Jana had tried to prepare me as best she could for the work environment we were heading into, but, probably in the me being me way that I function, I don't understand very well until I am experiencing the situation for myself. And then I finally get it! Anyway - the key is to be SUPER prepared, and to have your necessary data/equipment/whatever extremely organised. Even though I tried to have everything sorted and organised before heading out to site, there is definately room for improvement there! We were lucky though. Because of the scale of the wind farm project, along with the ongoing work that is being done, there are several containers on site that are fairly comfortable inside which can be used to shelter out of the wind. Jana assures me this is absolutly not the norm for research in Antarctica. Well all I can say is that it has been a real blessing today! We fumbled around a bit this afternoon trying to get the photo monitoring sorted, however it was already after 5 pm by the time we had finished the first two photos (of nine), so we decided to head back, have dinner and then head head up to the site again after dinner (light is no issue which has been brillant!). After a good piece of steak, some fantastic salad (thanks Sharlene and Barry!) and a re-read of the report written last year (thanks Libby!) we were away laughing! And the sun had come out -- a gorgeous evening! The remaining photos were taken in no time. Part one of our monitoring is now complete!!

Doing the photo monitoring

Me and my baby .. to give you an idea of scale, I am standing near the bottom of the turbine

Wind turbine at dusk

Yet another Scott Base sign; by the way - it's a possum, not a cat! :)

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