Saturday, 7 December 2013

Summer at Utsteinen

Time has passed in the meantime. The windy weather of the first week made place for more calm days with a lot of sunshine. Temperature however is still cold, around -10 to -15°C. Yesterday St Nicolas passed. My little family provided me with some self-made items and chocolate to celebrate this day. That was nice and I loved it. Otherwise, we would all just be too busy with our work and a day like that passes easily without anything special to it. I also had a skype call with a school class in the UK, of 8 to 10 year old pupils, on the occasion of Antarctic Day (normally 1st of December). They asked lots of questions on the Antarctic or on how daily life has to be imagined here. One question was also if I built already a snowman. I had to admit, that no. Too busy with work apparently. However, the snow here is too dry and would not be sticky enough. But we could sculpture something with blocks of snow-ice. Anyway, many things have been done. The pyrometer and the precipitation radar are back in operation on the roof. Also the Sun photometer is back on its place on the very top of the station. Its elegant movements to point to the sun and to make measurements make the others often ask me what it is for. In the aerosol shelter, the cloud condensation nuclei counter from Leipzig has been starting its measurements. It seems that there are not many particles in our Utsteinen air which are capable to form cloud droplets. But I need to do some more tests on this. My problem child at the moment is the Brewer ozone spectrophotometer. There is apparently an issue with a turning micrometer, which adjusts some important parts of the optics. Until now we haven’t found out what exactly the problem is, and the instrument keeps Erik and me busy. Last Wednesday morning the expedition team to the coast left (see group image above). They will be doing research in the field for around 10 to 12 days. To get to know what they are looking for, it is best to visit their blog. One of the last days, when wind was almost none, I went around 1 km upwind of the weather station and digged, like last years, a snow pit of 1m depth in order to characterize the different layers of ice (crystal size, habit, density, temperature…). The view was great from there and in weather conditions like that it’s nice to work outside ;-) . Next week, the extension of the mast of the weather station is on my agenda, as is another snow pit, and hopefully putting back into operation the Brewer and the nephelometer.

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