Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Finally at Raven

Today the fog was back again in the morning, but cleared in the afternoon enough for us to fly to Raven, a skiway training facility just up on the inland ice, about a 20 minute flight in a C-130.

The LC-130 banks as we fly towards the ice sheet.

By the time we got to Raven it was about 1pm, and I set to work. I was planning to try to catch the last plane back to Kangerlussuaq in order to catch a plane to Summit the following day. I started getting my gear ready for the 5 km trip to my experiment site, where several ice cores had been drilled last year. Because I was going to be out of sight of camp I needed to carry much more than I'd otherwise need; if a storm came up I could be stuck in bad visibility, unable to come back to the main camp, so I needed camping and cooking gear and food to last several days, even though I only intended to stay out a few hours.

My gear for an afternoon out. The 2 duffels at the front of the sled carry my emergency tent, stove , food, and extra clothing. The green box carries most of my science equipment.

My site was about 5 km from the main camp, but there aren't any landmarks by which to navigate, so we use GPS:

The view of untracked snow in front of my snow machine- not much to navigate by!

This GPS shows the lattitude and longitude of my site. Can you find where I was on a map?

To keep everyone informed as to how things were going, especially since I was trying to catch a plane, I checked in each hour using an Iridium satellite phone:

My work went well. I set up my gear and started making measurements:

My setup. The white cable runs down the pipe into a borehole in the ice, where I am lowering a video camera to look at the walls of the borehole. I can see layers in the walls, much like tree rings. I use these layers to measure compaction and settling in the snow.

Although everything went well, it took long enough that I missed the plane back to Kangerlussuaq, so I got to spend a nice evening with Drew and Silver, the crew who staff this small camp. Their job is to keep the skiway in good shape for the airplanes that train here, and to provide weather observations to the planes. They live in a small 'Weatherport', an insulated tent-like structure with an oil-fired heater inside. It's a simple life and they enjoy it. They're terrific people, and were wonderful hosts.

Drew and Silver outside their home.


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