This morning, Friday December 18th, our scheduled flight to Rothera was cancelled due to bad weather in the vicinity of the Rothera Research Station, a major British Antarctic Survey base in the Antarctic Peninsula Region. Our team will spend roughly three days at Rothera (once we get there) assembling all the field and drilling equipment and prioritizing the cargo for the flights that will take us and all our equipment and supplies to the drill site. Of course, the exact date on which we will be flown to our drill site, called Site Beta or the LARISSA ice camp, will be determined by the weather.
The IPR (ice penetrating radar) team led by Ted Scambos of the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado returned to Punta Arenas from Rothera on Thursday, December 17. Our team met with them to exchange information as the IPR team spent roughly 8 days at Site Beta. During this time they mapped the ice thickness along multiple transects totally over 30 km distance. They identified an optimal drill site within the initial 8 km by 8 km grid selected earlier based on Satellite images and airborne radar surveys in 2002 and 2008 (see our Where are We Going? page). The ice thickness there is about 430 meters and the underlying surface (below the ice) is relatively flat. During their 8 days at Site Beta the IPR team experienced two storms with high winds that created significant drifting and buried some of their equipment. We will dig this out and use it at our camp. The second storm brought winds up to 60 knots and whiteout conditions. A challenge for our team will be to get our 24 foot diameter drilling dome up so that we will be able to work regardless of the weather. We will establish lines linking each structure to another to eliminate the possibility that someone will become lost as they move from tent to tent.