Thursday, November 28, 2013

First days at PEA

Finally, the complete team has arrived at PES on Monday evening. The first days have been busy with different testing of the scientific equipment and field maintenance.

Reinhard and Lionel made a lot of tests with the low frequency radar which will be used on the Roi Baudouin ice shelf and Derwael ice rise in the coming weeks. A few days have been used to find the good configuration for the radar and the last test performed today around the base was successful.

Nicolas and Christophe (our field guide) re-visited the cGPS installed last year on Seal, 60 km north to the station yesterday. After 2.5h on skidoo from PES to Seal nunatak (close to the former Japanese Asuka station), they found the station back in a reasonable state. Some problems occurred during the winter such as the damage of the wind turbines. This reflects the extreme meteorological conditions in this region due to violent easterly winds. Seal nunatak is not protected by the Sör Rondane Mountains and the conditions are completely different compared to PEA.

Nicolas and Christophe collected the data and maintained the station (e.g. checked the receiver, removed the ice on the solar panels, ...). The wind conditions were very tough, and this work took more than 3h before they returned to the station.

Additionally, Alain and Jacques recognized the path and the spot for the new station cGPS ROB2 which will be installed next Saturday. The station, the same as ULX1, will be installed 40km southern from the PES on the Yet Nunten, a nunatak of the Söysane massif.





Monday, November 25, 2013

Still people behind in Novo

Nicolas and Alexander, unlaoding the aircraft in Novo

Nicolas and Christophe are still stuck in the Novo air base waiting for their plane, a Basler which is actually waiting for better weather conditions on the PES runway. The meteo in Antarctica is difficult to predict and prone to sudden changes, but according to the last reliable forecast, they should be able to take off on tuesday under a sunny sky.

In the Iliouchine for the flight from Cape town to Novo air base (There is also prince Harry in the right, not a joke)

Waiting for them, the rest of the team is working at the station, maintaining and preparing the experiments. They also try to integrate the daily life. For the locals, the work has been really hard during the last 10 days and yesterday was the first day off since they arrived.

The landscape here is amazing, so hostile and beckoning at the same time. We can hardly imagine that there is about 4000 km of ice between us and the other side of the continent.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

J-1 to Antarctica

The plane to Novo Russian airbase in Antarctica is schedule tomorrow morning at 9:00 SAST (local time in South Africa, UTC/GMT+2h). The team will arrive at 13:00 local time, and a first flight to Princess Elisabeth will leave at 14:00. A second is programmed on Saturday in order to bring rest of the people and/or cargo.

The last two days were used for training, team building and preparation of the mission. Today, the team hiked from the Water Front in Cape town to the Lion's Head. This peak is a 670 m altitude mountain between Table Mountain and Signal Hill. The top is mainly composed by sandstone at the top and granite at the base which are older Precambrian rocks. Lion’s Head is mainly known for the spectacular views over the city.

PS: latest update: the team has arrived in Antarctica. Reinhard, Lionel and Alexander are at PEA. Christophe and Nicolas stayed behind at Novo and are awaiting a flight to PEA somewhere tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

ALCI Briefing

After the ALCI meeting Monday afternoon, the team is now locked in Cape Town until Thursday evening. This is due to bad weather conditions at Novo station. This gives us the necessary time to prepare the logistic and field deployment plan for the season. This year, there are a lot of people in our D3 flight (more than 65) as well as 12 000 kgs of cargo. For Princess Elisabeth Antarctica, ALCI planned three feeder flights from Novo on the 22-23rd November. We hope that all will run smoothly.

Belgium and international teams at the ALCI briefing.


Monday, November 18, 2013

Arrival in Cape Town

The team arrived in Cape Town on yesterday morning. We get the boots which will be used on the field and checked the cargo this morning at the warehouse. We have news from the Princess Elisabeth Station, so the base seems to run again and ready to welcome the first Belgium scientific team of the BELARE 2013-2014 season. However, the weather in Novo “airport” seems to be not good enough for landing.The D3 flight (our flight) to Antarctica may be delay by one or more days. We will have more information during the ALCI (Antarctic flight operator) briefing this afternoon. We heard that will be in the plane with the Prince Harry ( We hope to have a royal flight!!

Checking of the cargo at the ACLI warehouse. Right to left: Michel (from IPF), Christophe (field guy), Alexander (from RMI) and the ALCI operator
Checking of the cargo at the ACLI warehouse. Right to left: Michel (from IPF), Christophe (field guy), Alexander (from RMI) and the ALCI operator