Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Fourth Antarctic Season Over...Headed Home

...And another successful Antarctic season comes to an end; and an interesting season it was.  Participating in my first "double deployment" was a bit stressful, but a unique experience nonetheless.  I was very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to work out of Union Glacier earlier in the season, but the travel in between that experience and my latest at WAIS Divide was a bit grueling.  I don't know that I would want to do that again.

Without going into too much rambling about my 4th WAIS Divide field season, I will say that all in all it was another big success.  We achieved our final drilling depth of 3405 meters, the replicate coring was being fine-tuned as I left, all side projects were completed, and there were no major "meltdowns".  If you are wondering why I appear to be en route home a few weeks earlier that originally planned....well you would be correct.  The four of us in our group (3 science techs and a team leader) decided that with the season winding down, the need for 3 science techs just wasn't there.  I volunteered to bow out two weeks early as I have much to work on back home for school, and I have been a bit more homesick than usual this year; specifically missing those back home quite a bit.  The quick visit home between deployments only made that particular aspect a bit more difficult.

A few notes on the camp.  Without hesitation, I can say that this was the best run, the kindest, and the most welcoming WAIS Divide camp that I've experienced in all 4 years.  A lot of familiar faces that had returned, and a lot of new folks.  It truly was an incredible camp this year.  I will miss it, but already know it will be in good hands next year. :-)  On a personal note, I want to thank Giff, Logan, and Don for being such incredible teammates and for the great company.  You guys were all awesome and I truly felt like I was part of an "all-star" science team this year.  I will miss you guys (except you Don...I'll see you in two weeks!).

The short synopsis key milestones for the season could be summed up with the following:
  • Finished the WDC06A main WAIS Divide ice-core at a depth of 3405m
  • Packed and shipped out all remaining ice core
  • Borehole logging was a huge success
  • Local seismic experiments were a huge success (Penn State)
  • Began configuring and testing the replicate coring system (started broaching deviation hole)
  • Drilled 9 firn cores for spatial variability graduate project (Dartmouth)
  • Dug and sampled 1.5 meter clean snow pit (Dartmouth)
  • Dug and photographed 2 meter back-lit snow pit (Penn State, Dartmouth, Oregon State)
  • Installed Net Radiometer on Automated Weather Station (Penn State)
  • Installed and ran small temp/humidity/pressure/insolation logger outside of camp (Penn State)
  • Prepared Facilities for next season's replicate coring
  • Tested "Eclipse Drill" and worked with drillers logging 100 meter "test" core.  
  • I Ran a lot, went skiing a lot, and even rode the mountain bike
  • I met and interacted with some truly incredible people
  • I marshalled a Hercules LC-130 on a beautiful evening
  • A lot of other things I'm forgetting
So, without any further adieu.  Here are a few Season pics....

Fisheye Herc Flight (Photo L. Mitchell)

Christmas Deserts

Me and Santa

A little mountain biking (way harder than it looks)

Drilling shallow 6-meter firn cores

The buried ice-core arch facility (Photo L. Mitchell)

The Team: Me, Logan, Giff, Don (Photo L. Mitchell)

Lots of sun dogs this year

Pouring out the bubbly on New Year's Eve

Lots of blowing, crappy weather this year

Excitedly packing the final core of the project (Photo L. Mitchell)

Lots of snow drifts that needed cleaning

Installed Net-Radiometer (over my head)

The Penn State Contingent

Logging/Drilling Shallow firn cores

Science Tech / Daft Punk tryouts

Large crust in shallow core

Clean snow-pit sampling (Photo L. Mitchell)

More clean snow-pit sampling (Photo L. Mitchell)

Going for a run....out there

Back-lit snow pit main wall

Looking more closely at a preserved crust in a core

Core "handling" with some junk firn cores

Marshalling in my 2nd LC-130 in three years
(This was the plane I left on last night too)

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