Monday, 24 March 2014

Time to go!

Around lunchtime today we will be getting picked up by our colleagues arriving from Resolute, northern Canada, in a plane filled with all of the stuff we’re going to need over the next 10-12 days. And it’s going to be quite the 10-12 days! During that time we’re going to be based at Station Nord, then spending up to 8 days camping on floating sea ice that’s a few meters thick, hundreds of kilometres from rescue. We’re looking forward to seeing what it’s like to land on the sea ice in a small plane! There are going to be six scientists on the ice, including two of the UCL team at any one time, along with our two camp managers. The ground teams will be making detailed observations of the sea ice and snow on the ground. At the same time there will be three planes in the area making measurements of the sea ice with a number of instruments. The planes can record the thickness of the ice and snow, take high resolution photographs, take detailed laser scans and much more. About 3 or 4 times a day, CryoSat-2 will shoot from horizon to horizon, 730km above our heads and moving at 7.5 kilometers per second. Needless to say it will be the culmination of a lot of effort from many people!
We’ve had a really great couple of days prep here in Qaanaaq. Yesterday we spent a few hours pulling each other around on the sled on the sea ice, to get a feel for how much effort it will be hauling the radar to our survey sites. It turns out it was easier than we anticipated, although the conditions here are very good because there is very little snow on the sea ice. We even had time to stop for a cup of tea by one of the icebergs that serve as Qaanaaq’s fresh water supply during the Winter.

 Yesterday we assembled the whole radar set up down on the sea ice and made some proper practice measurements. Hans Jensen gave us a lift to the ice in his car, then we assembled the radar and off we went. The local sled dogs were very interested in what we were doing (they probably thought we had food). It went extremely smoothly and we managed to make some very handy measurements to test whether our experiment plan will actually work. Good news, it will! We also did a complete run-through of all the experiments we will do in the field, including all the different radar measurements and digging pits in the snow to look at layering and snow characteristics. Hans took some great photos of us in action:

And so our first stint here in Qaanaaq is over. We’ll be spending some time here on our return back to the UK, waiting for the one flight per week and madly analysing all our data (fingers crossed!) There really isn’t a nicer place to be waiting. Whilst it’s been a great place to do our preparations, it’s also been an incredible place to have the pleasure of spending some time, and everyone has been extremely friendly. Not many people get the opportunity to come up here and we’re all feeling very lucky that we’ve had the chance.
Not sure how easy it will be to blog from Station Nord. But hopefully we’ll be able to provide a few updates whilst we’re there, maybe no pics though.

1 comment:

  1. Take care out on the ice. I am hoping you can get me some nice pictures of blue ridges I can use in future articles. ;-)