Ready and waiting…

410 words (2-3 minutes)

It’s (for the most part) been a busy two weeks at Casey Station! We now have about half of the team up at Law Dome, moving heavy sleds of equipment from a depot near the dome summit to our now camp–dubbed “DE08-OH.”

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The traverse route up Law Dome. The advance team is currently shuttling equipment between a depot at D-28 and our new camp, DE08-OH. Map data are from the Reference Elevation Map of Antarctica, plotted with QGIS and Quantarctica.

DE08 was an ice core site used by our team member David Etheridge and others to reconstruct past atmospheric CO2 and CH4 (methane) concentrations. This site remains one of the best linkages between modern measurements of atmospheric greenhouse gases, and the ice core record. We are going there again to take advantage of its high snowfall (a fact the advance team may be regretting as they wade through snow…) to shield our samples from too much in-situ Carbon-14 produced by cosmic ray bombardment .

The rest of the team remains at Casey Station, in part to keep the camp population manageable before several tents are erected. We also have more sensitive science equipment back here with us which cannot freeze, so we need warm structures at the site before heading up.

Over the last week or so, we completed our survival training, which was a great combination of hiking out in the sun and snow, watching Adelie penguins, and sleeping out with only the survival gear that we are required to carry whenever we leave station. It’s a minimal setup, including only a “bivy” bag, sleeping bag, and mat to sleep in. But with emergency cold weather clothing, this was still quite comfortable.

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A cold, beautiful night at survival camp.

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Adelie penguins wallowing in the snow on Shirley Island.

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Part of the Shirley Island Adelie penguin colony, including what looks to be a new species: the rock-lier penguin (get it?).

For now, those of us still on station remain ready to drive up Law Dome as soon as possible–hopefully in the next two days. The support from Casey Station has so far been amazing. We are rested, eating too much, and are eager to get to work setting up camp and science equipment at DE08-OH on Law Dome!

Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving! Again, we’re eating plenty of food here…

-Peter

For another perspective on the project, check out this recent article from Nature News! You can also follow Peter’s posts on Twitter, under the hashtag #LawDome1819.

 

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Settling in and sending the first traverse up the dome

(200 words, 1 minute read)

We have now been at Casey Station for nearly three full days, and have realized that our advance team from the Australian Antarctic Division—Sharon and Jose—have been very busy! They had already prepped two gargantuan sleds, full of camp and science cargo, for traversing up Law Dome (see below).

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^ Sharon and Jose with their tractor train to haul up Law Dome.

Yesterday, Monday, November 12, Sharon, Jose and field trainer Anthea headed up the dome with this first load of cargo, which represents a significant portion of the cargo that we need to build our camp more than 100km from station. They are returning from the trip in a few hours.

Any time you arrive at a small Antarctic research station, a significant portion of the first few days goes into getting to know base operations and becoming a safe and helpful part of the community. Casey is a station of about 80 people right now, and in such a small community everyone really needs to pitch in to get all the work done and take care of one another. So far, our experience here has been very warm and friendly, with absolutely spectacular support of our science project! See some photos of the station, below.

^Scenes from Casey, including the station signpost, the main “Red Shed” building, and the field store.

Expedition to Law Dome, Antarctica is underway

(330 words, 1-2 minute read)

After a bit of a blogging hiatus, we’re back in action and on our way to Antarctica! This is Peter writing, at the moment from Hobart, Tasmania. Vas and I are currently waiting for a weather window to fly south to Casey Station, Antarctica with the Australian Antarctic Program!

We are headed to a location called Law Dome, which is a dome of ice on the coast of East Antarctica essentially dead south of Perth, Australia. This site is ideal for the past atmospheric reconstruction we are hoping to do, using carbon-14 of carbon monoxide (14-CO) to learn how atmospheric oxidation has changed through the modern industrial period, from about the year 1880 to present. Here’s a video from the Australian Antarctic Division with a bit of an overview from our Australian project leader, David Etheridge.

It’s been a busy few days for us, flying half-way across the planet, trying not to be jet-lagged, completing cold-weather clothing outfitting, and undertaking many training courses.

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Traveling with us are Tanner Kuhl and Grant Boeckmann, ice-core drillers with Ice Drilling Design and Operation. Our training has been thorough and varied… even including chainsaw training with a Tasmanian logger so that we can safely use these tools to build a snow-trench to house one of our ice-core drills!

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Currently we are waiting for weather to improve in Antarctica, so we can fly to the Wilkins blue-ice runway and get to Casey. You can see current conditions on their station webcam.

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Delays are a part of life in Antarctica, so although we are not surprised we are still eager to get to work preparing our cargo for an overland traverse up to the “DE08” site on the east side of Law Dome.

Stay tuned here for updates from Casey Station and the deep field (as we can get information out). Some of us will be working at Law Dome through January 2019 and won’t be home from Antarctica until mid-to-late February!