Monday, 31 January 2011

The last days

Now my stay at the Princess Elisabeth station is almost over. Tomorrow, Tuesday, we will fly around noon with the ‘Lydia’, (the plane we also came here) to the Russian air base Novolazarevskaya near the coast. There we only have a few hours before the large Ilyushin 76 will fly us to Cape Town in South Africa. About 12 of our team will leave Utsteinen and in Novo we will join other Antarctic expedition members from Germany, Norway, Sweden, Japan to fly together back to Cape Town.

Last Thursday and Friday we had a storm here – not of the worrying type, however, the wind speed was 15 – 17 m/s at the weather station 300m to the East. So, on our ridge, the wind speed was probably higher by about 4-5 m/s. There was a lot of drifting or blowing snow, from times to times accompanied by real snowfall and the visibility was really bad – the Utsteinen nunatak was for a long time not visible anymore. Now that the summer season reaches slowly the end, also the sun sets deeper and deeper behind the mountain ranges in the south. At some days this leads to nice views around midnight. This mountain range also influences strongly the upper air flow and sometimes we can watch the formation of large, impressive, cylindric clouds.

The ozone spectrophotometer which is installed now on the roof of the station is doing nice measurements. Besides the total column amount of ozone in the atmosphere, we can now also derive the UV index for Utsteinen, i.e., a measure of the probability of ultraviolet radiation induced erythema of different human skin types. On 23 to 26 January, on rather sunny days, the UV index reached up to 6, indicating a moderate intensity at which the skin burns easily. On the days of the storm, with a complete overcast sky, the UV index reached nevertheless 5. This only slightly lower index is caused by the very low and thin clouds, through which the shortwave radiation can easily penetrate.


  1. This stuff is really fascinating from my couch in Brandon FL. I have a lot of admiration for your efforts. It reminds me to be proud to have regained my Belgian citizenship.

  2. Jayson T Benedict10 February 2012 at 19:27

    Goodluck and good data hunting, we will take a look a day, quit interesting material.
    Are in a study about cooling effect of the earth, that seems to be combined with earth magnetic field and influence of solar activity.
    But the field of work you do is also involved in this somehow.
    Benedict Engineers Belgium

  3. Fantastique !!!!