RICE 2013/14 Field Season Blogs
This blog shows the communications from the RICE team who are working in Roosevelt Island, Antarctica. The blogs highlight the progress of the equipment extraction effort, how the team are faring in this remote location, and the general goings-on in the camp.
Read our newest communication from the team:
16 November 2013
Darcy, the other Nancy Boys and the 3 US personnel got into Roosevelt Island on Friday as per the email below. Photos courtesy of Nicola Lang (Cargo Handler)
Email from Peter McCarthy, Scott Base “The team managed to get in yesterday in the Basler and LC-130. We had the RNZAF cargo handlers arrive yesterday and will try to get them in this coming week. The Basler is delayed today until 1100 hr due to Wx at RI. “
“The other bonus for the team being on the ground is they'll set up that Tactical Met station and start feeding back good met data to Charleston which the local McMurdo forecasters will benefit from. “
15 November 2013
Message from communications log book reads: K049, 15/11/2013, 1832, MW, Iridium, Roosevelt Island
Everyone is well dinner is being cooked.
No incidents to report
Looks as if all equipment has wintered well with little snow coverage
Plan to work around camp tomorrow and prep loads for the Basler flights tomorrow.
Wx: Clear blue skys, cold (unsure temp) 5-10 kts W.
Messages to: Basler scheduled for 2 taps to Roosevelt Island ETA 1030 & ETA 1730
HF not set up yet hopefully by Monday.
10 November 2013
Madness. It was once stated that the very definition of madness was to do attempt a task repeatedly, achieve the same outcome and yet continue to try again, I can’t quite recall who it was who said this but it was probably someone who figured out that they were actually quite mad themselves, experience really is the best teacher.
I could Google who actually said the madness thing but the inter-web crawls at sub dialup speeds down here with the priority of course going to that fleeting online fad, Facebook.
I digress, getting back to madness an oft-useful attribute in Antarctica, has once again silenced rational thoughts of a carefully planned season start.
At least the Basler aircraft has arrived.
And so has the weather, sublime, omnipresent, crapping out.
You may have gathered we are all waiting at Scott Base, patiently, patience yet another desirable Antarctican attribute and as it happens one we fortunately all have, maybe not in spades but any ¼ teaspoon will do. To be fair we technically have only being waiting three days, bringing us to our second Sunday brunch and the bright side, waffles with whipped cream.
Despite this you can’t afford to stop planning so the team has become quite adept at creating new put-in scenarios that invariably end with a cancelled flight. The trick is to plan just enough so that you can complete the task reasonably without resembling a chicken abattoir. The latest plan, which will be cancelled on Monday, is an action blockbuster of coordinated logistics, and aircraft not forgetting a significant supporting cast.
The characters. A Basler, putting in the advanced ground crew of Twit, Jeff and Darcy will arrive 2 hours or so before the arrival of the LC130 with Jodie, Mike, Hedley, David and Richard, guest starring the New York Air National Guard and Ken Borek Air. Like all good films, our foreign accented protagonist is the Weather, it however has no time for a crisp upper crust English inflection, it settles for simply yelling it’s lines with as much bluster as it can summon. Apparently Monday is going to be quite the yell.
The Plot. We depart the McMurdo Ice Runway to Roosevelt Island and land at last year’s campsite. Load the Basler with 2000lbs of retro, bid farewell to the Ken Borek guys, find the sleds and start digging out a skidoo from the service tent and stage at the cargo pile we wish the NYANG 109th to land their LC130 next to, where we now reach the peak of the narrative arc, a frenzied hour of palletizing 4500lbs of cargo and loading the Hercules with the assistance of the 109th pilots, loadmasters, Kiwi and USAP team, the loaded Herc then departs for McMurdo.
Herc flying into the sunset closing shot and fade to credits. Cut.
“But it’s the polar austral summer so there is no sunset” I hear you say.
“haha” I retort, “CGI”.
And if Monday doesn’t work for all this then maybe Tuesday, or Wednesday, or Thursday, I think you get the point. But never mind all that, Scott Base staff do get the benefit of 5 extra staff members willing and able to vacuum, wash dishes, repair Nansen sleds and provide the butt for banter, as exampled by the following recent PA announcement by the comm ops.
“Attention K-0-4-9, check-in for your flight has been scheduled for sometime in the next week, than you.”
So from Scott Base and until sometime…
The Nancy Boys
Mike, Jeff, Jodie, Hedley and Darcy
3 November 2013
So here we are, the fourth and the planned final season for the field operations of the Roosevelt Island Climate Evolution Project.
This year the task is predominantly an airlift logistics effort to extract 30 tonnes of equipment accumulated from three years of ice core drilling operations at site. With such an intensive extraction effort required over the next four to six weeks an experienced team of five has been assembled with staff from both Antarctica New Zealand and Victoria University of Wellington backed up and supported by the team at Scott Base and USAP Mac-ops. Additionally from USAP a three party science team will continue with bore hole temperature, optical tele-viewer measurements, GPR, mass balance and a couple of shallow firn cores.
And so it begins, but first I’ll introduce the K049 and USAP field team….
From Ant NZ we have Jeff Rawson joining us for his second season at Roosevelt Island, contributing his plant driving and mechanics skills, after doing a sterling job last year it was a welcome return. We welcome Jodie Curtis, a builder by trade and comedian by nature, the RAC tent would not have ever been erected so well, and with the one-liners learned from years of building site banter, as entertaining. Mike Rowe who after wintering at Scott Base as Field Support joins us for an additional little jaunt to “Resort Island”, mad by most peoples standards but clearly not Mike, he is positively chomping at the bit.
From Victoria University we have the perennial Hedley Berge, an Electrical Contractor prone to outbreaks of common sense and experience returns for his third RICE season and his 10th Antarctic season, sucker for punishment? Probably. Finally myself, Darcy Mandeno, an occasional engineer, driller and spreadsheet complicator returning for the fourth RICE season to lead the team even if they are following out of curiosity just to see what I’ll stuff up next.
The USAP team consists of Howard “Twit” Conway, Richard “AF>1” Hindmarsh and David “The Logger” Clemens-Sewall. After arriving Friday Twit, Richard and David are well into their own load and flight planning arrangements, but not without the obligatory corporate Sunday brunch at Mac Town with almost all the team, a nice way to discuss the upcoming season, and watch Jodie mistake the sugar for salt…yummy.
Our own departure from Christchurch last Wednesday was uneventful enough with weather delays finally relenting and allowing us to depart early afternoon after four hours of hanging out at the Antarctic International Centre, arriving at Scott Base for a thoughtfully held aside hot meal and cold beer. The three days since have been a maelstrom of food, tents, cookers, training, drivers licenses, cargo planning, NYANG 109th meetings, comms plans, the essential Scott Base corridor meetings and not forgetting the Tatty Flag focus group discussions at the end of each day.
So now its Sunday we can relax a little, catch our breath, with preparations near completion; uplift all our equipment and stage at the ice runway by Monday afternoon(ish) and wait for the plane, which currently sounds something like this.
It’s there somewhere…
Oh in Punta Arenas, South America…
Right then so we wait?
Yup but that’s okay, we’ve done this before and it somehow always works out. Somehow.
Roll on Wednesday, the first put-in flight. I can already hear all former RICERs in unison saying something like “yeah right”, except one, that would be Nancy “Rose Tinted” Bertler.
Thanks Nancy, no really, thanks.
Love and kisses
The Nancy Boys
From left: Jodie Curtis, Jeff Rawson, Hedley Berge, Darcy Mandeno, Mike Rowe