Sunday, 15 December 2013

Instruments up, Instruments down

The last week was characterised by severe instrument interventions. Monday and Tuesday kept us busy with the extension of the mast of the automatic weather station. Monday I dug out an almost 2m deep hole around the mast. This depth was necessary to reach the top of the battery container. The batteries were pulled out and put into a new container which finally was placed on top of the old one. These batteries kept the weather station running now since almost five years, and they are still in good shape. It was a funny feeling being down in this hole and even when standing upright I could not look out. It was also a very warm, calm day and during digging, the warm down jacket was not necessary. Around noon, the air temperature in 2m height was even +3°C !  However, down there in the hole it was freezy. The aluminium mast had still the temperature of the surrounding snow/ice – around -20°C. My sweaty leather working gloves would freeze stuck immediately when touching the mast. The following day two colleagues –Francois (on the image in the hole) and Craig- helped me to extend the mast. First, disconnecting he upper part and laying it softly down on boxes in order to avoid ground-touching. Then we put the extension on the old bottom part and lifted finally the top part into the extension. Now the meteorological instruments are again in a height of around 4m. Afterwards, the hole needed to be filled. It was much more wind that day and the drifting snow helped to smoothen the surface around the mast. The days after I did detailed checks on the Brewer, the nephelometer and the cloud condensation nuclei counter (CCN). After many checks and tests Erik and I did in the heart of the Brewer instrument, it was clear that there is some malfunctioning of an electronic control board. And this we cannot fix here, why it will return already with me. The nephelometer also has a serious problem and very probably some parts of the optical interior have to be exchanged. As I do not have them here, it will also return with me. It’s more than a pity that these instruments have to return, but things like these can happen. On the other side, we could fix the pump problem of the CCN and it is working fine since Friday afternoon. So, it’s an up and down here. Apart from the instruments – the landscape around Utsteinen is always fascinating. That it is Antarctic summer is also marked by the snow petrels which are now gliding much more often and in higher number in the wind around our ridge. These birds bring up their chicks here in the mountains (far away from predators), but fetch the food at the coast. The coming days starts already the preparation for our departure.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Alexander,

    Happy to have news from Antarctica and see that all is OK !
    In Belgium, no snow, some icy mornings but frost cannot stay after 9 am with temperatures around 10°C...Not really winter weather, but anyway quite pleasant days !
    Good luck for last technicals interventions and see you soon in Belgium ;-)