Monday, January 18, 2016

Storm on Derwael ice rise

This is an update directly from the field.


The IceCon and Benemelt teams arrived on Thursday at an already prepared basecamp near the grounding line of the Roi Baudouin Ice Shelf. The skidoo travel was about 10 hours, including a visit to check on the Asuka cGPS station (everything is running here). With the sun brightly shining the day after, we managed to install a phase-sensitive radar which measures ice thickness changes (and hence basal melt rates) continuously every hour. Once a day a control message is sent to our office in Brussels. This instrument is part of a larger network on ice shelves around Antarctica, many of which are maintained by the British Antarctic Survey (who gave us great support in managing the instrument, even with messages relayed from the Filchner Ronne Ice Shelf). Our guides Sanne and Frank prepared in the meantime our traverse to the front of the ice shelf. We left the next day, and found all three instruments (two times GPS referred to as the TweetingIceShelf, and another phase-sensitve radar) which were left in overwintering mode by the previous IceCon Expedtion. After a resupply with fresh batteries the GPSs started tweeting instantaneously, and 15 GB of data from the pRES are waiting to be processed. Knowing that the weather was turning worse Sanne and Frank went ahead to Derwael Ice Rise to install the dome tent (a Stronghold) in case of bad weather... but the storm was already there so it took them 4 hours to install the dome and the sleeping tents in extremely harsh conditions. Reinhard and Nico arrived a few hours later (after finishing up some pRES measurements) and were happy to see the Camp fully functioning. However, the Skidoos almost drove into the tents because of the complete whiteout. Today the storm continuous making it impossible to work. We sit here quietly awaiting the end of the storm which gives us the opportunity to write this somewhat lengthy blog update and send it out via satellite communication. Weather prediction tells us that winds should be less strong by Wednesday evening.


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