Jan - New Year, new faces...
Gavin Francis (Base Doctor)
New Year, new Halley wintering team, and a lot of new faces at Halley (mine being one of them). Jon Seddon, 2002 AIS engineer, has handed over the web-site reins to me, and his explanations of html and hyperlinks have left me feeling a little dazed. For that reason this month's web-page is going to be a bit experimental (!), but as of next month more and more of the winterers will be writing parts for it. OK - here goes...
So with relief over we thought we would have a bit of a break - but no! This was time for the real summer work to start - and during the brief Halley summer season there’s always plenty to do. All of the platforms (The Simpson, Laws and the Piggott) have to be raised up on their legs, and then science and communications masts too. Then there’s the melt-tank tunnel which has to be brought back up to the snow-surface (into which is shoveled an amazing amount of snow every day - how could we ever use so much?!) fuel drums which have been buried under a year’s accumulation of snow to be dug out, and the CAS Lab (Clean Air Sector Laboratory) to be built. There’s plenty to do.
But Steve, the Base Commander, does give us some time off... Halley is a perfect place for Kite-skiing, and we have a few enthusiasts. Hundreds of miles of ice shelf to play with and when the wind’s right then some of the best kite-boarding to be had anywhere! The snow alongside the Laws platform was bulldozed flat in preparation for raising the legs, and coincidentally resulted in a perfect football pitch. It was a relief to have no back gardens to kick the ball into (nearest neighbours being 800 km away), but there were still a few groans to be heard as wayward kicks sent the ball up onto the Laws roof or underneath the platform itself.
And in between all of these activities there is even the odd opportunity to do some science. Atmospheric science is a major part of the scientific programme here at Halley, and the next picture is of a blimp being launched to collect some data.
here's Rhian Salmon giving an explanation of what the blimp does...
I've been asked to write something about the science I'm doing down here at Halley this year to go next to a picture of a blimp. This blimp is about to be launched up to an altitude of 200-500m carrying a pump, a filter, a flow meter, a little logger and a 'RuSonde'. The pump pulls air through the filter, at a flow rate measured by the flowmeter and recorded by the logger. The RuSonde measures the temperature, pressure, wind speed and direction, relative humidity and altitude every 10 seconds and sends the data back to a computer on the Simpson platform via radiowaves. By watching the trace on the screen as the blimp is released upwards (strongly attached to both an electric and manual winch), we can see how the air masses are changing with altitude. This helps us to understand the type of air mass being sampled by the filter that is also hanging off the blimp. Has the air come directly from the sea or the pole? Has it been near the surface or stayed in the free atmosphere for the last few days? Has it been circling Antarctica or been carried in from South America or possibly Africa? These are some of the questions we can answer using the blimp.
click on the picture to find out more.
Well... I suppose the light around here can play tricks on you. When Ed approached (picture to the right) they seemed to shrink back down to normal size....
We’re half way through the summer season now, the RRS Ernest Shackleton is on her way back from the Falklands with more fuel, mail and fresh vegetables, and everyone is preparing for another 'relief'. This time next month if all goes according to plan the ship will have left and 'summer' will have ended. It’ll just be the 15 of us until the planes come back in November.
Next month Pat McGoldrick, Winter Carpenter and Base Commander will be giving us his impressions of Halley. He was part of the team which wintered here for two years in 1990 and actually built Halley V, so can give us a perspective on how (and if) things have changed.
Happy New Year, and Lots of Love to everyone I know (you know who you are...)
(P.S.Thanks for the all the e-mail comments on the peroxide hair - don’t worry guys, I’ve shaved it all off!)