In the past ten days only one flight has made it to McMurdo. Thankfully for us our engineering team was part of it’s precious cargo and they have now joined Me, Catherine, and Britney at the bottom of the world. We’ve been enjoying a barrage of Condition 2 weather, with brief gaps of ‘temperate’ (positive temperatures!!) and nearly windless weather. In addition to Mick, Anthony, and Matt we’ve also been graced with the majority of our cargo which also had to make the flight down from the northern hemisphere. The gents have set up their HQ in the lab, and after finishing up our final training yesterday, we’re ready to start cooking!
Although we’ve all been chomping at the bit to get to work, and ultimately get out into the field and begin gathering data, the Antarctic weather has had other plans. Day after day of Condition 2 weather repeatedly postponed our essential training needed to venture off base. After nearly a week of cancellations we managed to sneak in Piston Bully, Snowmobile, and Sea Ice training between waves of storms.
After the rather conservatively paced Piston Bully training, all of us were eager to move onto a more sporty version of Antarctic transportation. Luckily, the next day provided us with just that opportunity.
Yesterday morning we awoke to harsh Condition 2 weather, with heavy snow and harsh winds. Our planned sea ice training was cancelled, par for the course at this point. However, the afternoon brought warmer temperatures, the clouds burned off, and turned the bleak morning into a perfect afternoon. We got the call to gear up and get ready to head out onto the sea ice. This set of training focuses on the ability to profile cracks in the sea ice. Although in places the sea ice is up to 8 meters thick, the large expanse is riddled with refrozen fractures that, if proper precautions aren’t taken, can be extremely hazardous. Thus to venture out onto the ice one must know how to identify, and ‘profile’ these cracks to safely travel to field sites.
The purpose of profiling these cracks is that each ice bound vehicle can safely cross a crack of a certain ice thickness and width, if the ice is too thin for too wide of a channel you’ve got to find a different, safe, place to cross.
With training done, and everyone settled in, we’re getting revved up to start doing some testing to prepare for our caravan journey out to our field sites, where we can begin exploring the eerie world beneath the McMurdo Ice Shelf.
Cheers! -The SIMPLE Team