Monday, July 14, 2014

A 'weather day' doesn't always mean it's bad where you are...

Woke up to a bit of fog this morning, but not so much that we didn't get right out to breakfast at 6 with an eye toward loading up the helicopter as early as possible.

Of course, at breakfast, Daniel, our pilot, called to say that conditions out at our site were predicted to be overcast, which wasn't promising; we would talk again at 10 to see if there was  a chance of still flying today.  In this operation, it's critical to have good weather at our site, because the helicopter has enough fuel to get to our site, but not enough to get back, and therefore must land to refuel from our fuel cache.  In aviation, you never want to get forced into something like this, especially over the ice sheet.  If the weather is overcast, the lighting conditions become what we call 'flat light' where there are no shadows cast, and you cannot see any features in the surface of the snow.  In this state, the pilot does not have a reference of the surface, and it's a pretty dangerous position to be in if you are out of fuel.

Well, at 10 the weather hadn't improved much, so we were scrubbed for the day.  This gave us the opportunity to practice our procedure for tomorrow; we will be loading and unloading the somewhat awkward sled-tripod combinations while the helicopter is running, so doing it first in nice weather without whirling rotors is a good idea. 
Here, Thomas hands the sled to Adam, pulling it into the helicopter.  The tripod just fits, so we won't have to break that down when we 'hop' between sites.  By this time the fog had burned off completely and it had become a beautiful day.  Wish it was like that up on the ice!

Later, the team had time to go for a run, take a walk, or (in my case) found that the hardware store is closed on a Sunday.  Ah well...

Finally, I wanted to share a shot of how beautiful Disko bay is- and we're right on it:
I would call it a sunset at the end of the day (this photo was taken at about 11pm), but the sun will only dip a little later on tonight, it won't set.  Here you can see the icebergs, and in the distance, the mountains of Disko island.  A beautiful end to the day.  Fingers crossed for tomorrow! (I feel like I write that a lot).


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