Friday, 6 February 2009

What happenned these last couple of days

Wednesday morning started with a sunny sky, only a few clouds were visible. A fresh wind was blowing. For the afternoon, an overcast sky, strong wind and snow drift was forecasted.

Irina and I decided to install the solar panel tower that serves as the power supply for the magnetometer, in the morning. The location is about 2km from the base camp. The station and its wind turbines are still visible from out there.
The installation went pretty fast, as we almost finished the necessary digging the day before.

Yet, in about 20 minutes the weather had turned, it became very cloudy with poor visibility, snow started to drift and wind gained force. For safety reasons we had to return to the base rapidly. Due to this the tower was quickly fixed to its anchors, however without proper levelling. On top of that our skidoo refused to start during 15 minutes, probably because of the cold wind. We still could see the ridge with the station on it, but the changing visibility made us a bit nervous. Anyhow, we had gps and satellite phone with us. In the end the engine started and it took us 5 minutes we arrived in the kitchen tent where lunch was waiting. The rest of the day the weather was grey, overcast, with poor visibility, strong eastern wind together with snow drift. At night our tents were shaken up by the wind and our sleep was often disturbed.

Thursday on its turn showed again a blue sky, few clouds and only light wind. In that way we had enough time to install the solar panel tower properly. It was very warm, so that gloves and a second fleece jacket were almost not necessary. Weather in Antarctica can change so swiftly! During the afternoon we filled the large hole of the weather station. This took us longer than we thought and in the evening I was bound for an early and long sleep.

Friday brought many clouds but calm weather and we installed the other items for the magnetometer station. Unluckily, switching it on had not the intended effect - something was not working. Because this is a collaboration with the Japanese Institute for Polar Research, we phoned back and forth to check out possible reasons why the instrument did not work. But as the battery ran out of power and because there is a 9hr time difference with Japan (they also want to sleep at night) brought this to an end without solution.

That will be for tomorrow.

Picture of the magnetometer during test period in Dourbes:

Sky Picture from : Xavier Jubier

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