Arrived !

(27-11-2019)

We’re here! After a few days in Cape Town and a one day delay for the flight to Antarctica we are stepping out of an Ilushin IL-76, a huge russian cargo plane, onto the blue ice of the 3km long runway. It was a historic flight as it is the first one to fligh directly from Cape Town to Persues, an airstrip managed by IPF (International Polar Foundation) about 50km from the station. This means no more feeder flights from Novo airbase to Princess Elisabeth station, instead we now were offered a comfortable ride in a Hilux to the station. Novo will remain in service though and the majority of the flights will still land there.


This years research expedition is going to be a busy one! Together with Stefania and me representing the CHASE project and continuing our work from last year there are 6 more scientists working on 3 different projects with themes such as the morphology of the ice sheet and precipitation in the area. On top of this there is a group of 6 japanese geologist doing a survey in the area staying here and with all the stations crew included the station’s capacity is now maxed out at 40 people. A welcome change is that, since the construction of ‘the hotel’ was finished by the end of last season, we now all have a bedroom inside the station instead of sleeping in a container outside. A big part of the crew this season are construction workers. As the ice sheet is moving away from the station, the garage built under the station 10 years ago is sinking. Therefore it is now being teared down and replaced by a new one. Construction works or not, the station still feels like a second home and as last year we were received here by a lot of kind and now familiar faces.

After landing on Perseus the cargo loadout was slightly chaotic meaning we didn’t had the chance to check upon all of our stuff we sent here. Or at least a part of it! A lot of Stefania’s frigo boxes had to be left in Cape Town because of a lack of space in the plane, they will however arrive later this week and this won’t impact our schedule. Luckily the things that were shipped arrived safe and sound. This meant we immediately were able to get to work on Saturday and Sunday. The biggest fear I had was that, like last year, the sensors of the High Volume Sampler could be broken again, but this time everything fired up immediately first try after reinstallation.

There are 2 new additions the the program this year. A new prototype active sampling system will be installed at the station and it will run over winter, collecting VOC’s from the air when station is abandonned. Furthermore we’ll also drill some cores near our passive sampling sites with a unique big diameter titanium drill. Taking out cores of firn and ice will give us insight in how the concentrations of organic compounds varies in function of time. Next days a lot of medical and field training is planned for us so expect next blog to be filled with stories of people immobilized on stretchers and exciting crevasse stories.
Cheers from Antarctica,
Preben

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