Wednesday, 8 February 2012

The first week at Utsteinen

It is already one week since I’ve arrived at Princess Elisabeth station. We had exceptionally calm weather the whole time, wind has been a scarcity until now. And we are spoilt with sunny weather. The temperatures are between minus 8 to minus 16 around the station. A bit further away from the station, temperatures can be markedly colder. Utsteinen is thus often protected by the surrounding Sor Rondane Mountains against the catabatic winds. The temperatures we encounter here do certainly not make an impression on all of you in cold Belgium or Germany. Yesterday we had a nice view of full moon, the clouds disappeared in time. The next days we will get more clouds and wind and probably also a storm. How intense it will be – we will see. Anyway, the exceptional quiet days will be over.

In the meantime, I installed two new instruments in the southern shelter – a nephelometer (measuring the dispersion of light by ambient particles), and a laser aerosol spectrometer, detecting the size of the ambient aerosol particles with the help of laser light which is scattered by the particles in an optical detection chamber. On the bottom image, the aerosol spectrometer is in the middle and the nephelometer on the right (on the left the aethalometer, measuring the absorption of light by the ambient particles). One application of the instruments is the direct measurement of the so-called single scattering albedo. This is a parameter expressing the relation between the absorption and the dispersion of sunlight by the aerosol particles. It expresses how much radiation from the sun is reflected back to the top of the atmosphere (cooling thus the surface) and how much is absorbed by the particles (the absorbed radiation is then radiated back by the particles to the surrounding atmosphere, heating it) – is widely used in models simulating the radiative impact of aerosols.

Thanks a lot for all the comments you wrote already. It’s nice to have such a quick, smooth platform to exchange thoughts between Antarctica and Belgium.


  1. Hi Alex,
    Wishing you good, sunny, smooth days from Linkebeek. It is great to read about your work and see the pictures. The bike is incredible!!!
    Take care and see you soon,
    Viktor and Judit

    1. Hi Viktor and Judit,
      Thanks a lot for the good wishes!

  2. Hello Alexander,

    After watching the documentaries "frozen planet" I've seen a glimp of the beauty of Antarctica and I got a little interested. Good luck out there! I'm a bit jealous :-) It looks so quiet and peaceful out there. But I can imagine that life over there is really hard. Enjoy the experience!! Gr from Gent
    Ps: the bike is cool indeed

  3. Hi, just got back from Antarctica (from Ushuaia). Hope to come back someday! Suerte!