Sunday, 18 January 2009

Busy busy busy

Well, I'm going to have to be brief on this one, because I'm exhausted. Today was my "day off" - Sunday - which meant I could sleep in until 8:45 before starting gash duties, cleaning the Drewry and then doing all the lunch dishes for 50 people, then visiting a site for a GPS upgrade, and then coming back just in time to do the dinner dishes for 50 people, then coming to the office to test my results, and then write the blog.

And the sad thing is that this has been my most relaxing day yet.

Last Sunday, I began a series of flights onto the Antarctic plateau. Real Antarctica. Specifically, to these sites:

Site F, the furthest one, is about 260 miles away from Halley ("H5"). At each site, I'm doing a series of field test for ozone monitors. These monitor ozone at the surface, not in the upper atmosphere. Upper atmosphere ozone is good for filtering UV rays - surface ozone, not so good. But it's part of a atmospheric balance of gases that the science community is presumably interested in.

Site F is 8000ft over sea level. Antarctica is a very high continent, once you take the ice sheet in consideration. And essentially it's a big dome - the further in you go, the higher you go. And colder, of course. At each site, we need to manhandle two 100-kg battery boxes onto the plane, which involved a lot of panting at Site F.

Site C, on the other hand, was near some big crevasses. Standard procedure for a field landing is to pseudo-land once, never really slowing down, in case a crevasse opens up under you. Then we take off, circle around, and land again - properly this time - on our makeshift vetted skiway.

A couple times on these flights, our pilot has said "Here, Ryan, take over. I've got paperwork to do." And I would steer for an hour or so. Flying is surprisingly dull. I always thought it'd be something I'd like to do, but if I couldn't get interested in flying a Twin Otter over chasms in Antarctica, I guess it's not for me.

The plane is now off in the Pensacola mountains, a mountain range to the south of us, where my company has one of its various fuel stashes for flights to the pole and so on. They've been stuck there for a few days, which sucks - we have more ozone sites to do.

But as rushed as I am, I don't mind a break. I enjoyed my 8:45 lie-in this morning!

1 comment:

Fabien & Elin said...

Wihej! I just talked to Povl who sent me your link - sounds like you're living exciting and busy days in Antarctica!
Kram from Elin and a cute little Sara :-)

ps - How about a weekend in Paris when you get back? you are very welcome!