December 7

Thursday December 7:

The activities in the camp were organized into two shifts: the team of Frank, Stef and TJ wake up at 7:30 am and go on the field to make radar profiles or GNSS profiles; the team of Jean-Louis, Etienne and Emmanuel wake up at 1:30 pm, start to drill the ice cores until 4 or 5 am (when there is no risk of ice melting by the sun). Christophe and I joined the more traditional daylight shift but all the teams often join the drillers to help… or to celebrate a milestone depth!!

From Nadine Mattielli

Wednesday December 6

Wednesday December 6, we left the station with two Toyota Jeeps. Even if the Jeep looks a Mad Max car, the speed is limited at 15km/h because of the snow reliefs and the ice. For ±170 km, we spent 12h to join the camp of glaciologists.

From Nadine Mattielli

Monday December 4

Monday December 4, we went to the plateau to install the passive samplers. It was a beautiful day without any cloud or wind. We started at 9 in the morning and drove with our skidoos towards the plateau. Jacques, the doctor of Princess Elisabeth Antarctica station and experienced fieldguide accompanied us during our journey. We drove along the most beautiful mountains we have ever seen and took the time to take some pictures. After a 35km drive we nearly reached our destination, in the far distance we could observe an old meteo station . After digging holes in the snow, and stabilizing the poles, we mounted our samplers. Mission accomplished! After the work, we enjoyed a piece chocolate and a warm tea while enjoying the landscape and went back to the station.

From Nadine Mattielli & Christophe Walgraeve

Saturday December 2

Saturday December 2,
We left in the morning for a big trip (120km in total) on the skidoos to Romnoes. Alain and his team accompanied us with the vehicles until the blue ice field. We put our samplers at Romnoes and tried to make a movie with the drone which we could borrow from Thomas, the IT manager of the station. Than we packed everything on the sledges and went back to the station. It was a long trip and we arrived at the station around 11PM. The sun was just behind Utsteinen and created a wonderful mix of light and shadow. We were very hungry, but Christine the chef of the station made again a wonderful dish for us.

From Nadine Mattielli & Christophe Walgraeve

Friday December 1st

Friday December 1st, we joined Henry, the expert of birds (from the RBINS). He had planned to go on the Utsteinen mountain to check the status of a camera he placed to observe the evolution of the young birds. It was a perfect opportunity for us to discover the geology of the Utsteinen mountain (granitic intrusion), the population of the petrels living there, and the fantastic view of the station.

From Nadine Mattielli & Christophe Walgraeve

 

Wednesday November 29 2017

Wednesday November 29, the temperature stays stable (around -11°C), but the wind speed increases (33km/h). With the sledge attached to the skidoo we left the station around 3:00 pm for our first sampling site (4km away from the station – in the valley along the Utsteinen ridge). The visibility was still very good, but the wind blew strongly at the ground and produced a wavy snow blanket. Firstly, the snow was collected at the site, next to the pole of the first passive sampler installed more than 4 years ago. Then, the new four poles were installed, two are equipped with a new passive sampler and a Bergenhof sampler for the mineralogy and trace element analyses and two are dedicated to the volatiles and organic molecule analyses. Everything went well, the filter (that has collected two years of dust deposition) has been replaced by a new one (quite tricky operation with the wind – I had to work inside a trunk to move that tinny filter of 5cm wide, and 0.1mm thick to a petri box. We went back at the station at 8:00pm extremely happy!!

From Nadine Mattielli & Christophe Walgraeve

Tuesday November 28 2017

Tuesday November 28 is an important day and the station looks like a hive, as the glaciologists will leave at noon (see picture here below, the glaciologist’s train which will cover approximately 200km at 15km/h… Last night, scientists and people from the station worked hard until 1:00 am to prepare the convoy. When the convoy left the station, the tension went down and everybody was happy of their work and wish all the best to the glaciologists.

On our side, Tuesday was dedicated to the preparation of the materials. We expect to install 3 poles for inorganic atmospheric particles analyses, and two for the organic/volatiles component analyses. As those poles are awaited to stay for certainly one year (and we hope more), it is fascinating to see how much the materials you carefully prepared in Belgium are not totally appropriated to the conditions we are facing up to here. The screw behaviors, the contact between two different metals, the timing of the different manipulations, … need to be carefully evaluated taking into account the wind speed, the continuous vibrations induced by the wind, the strong temperature contrast between sunny days and cold/white days. The people from the station (Jack, Olivier, Baptiste, Bernard, …) are ready to help and are especially precious for their advices and spare parts they manage to give us.

From Nadine Mattielli & Christophe Walgraeve

Monday November 27

The weather is still very good. The trainings done, the station is extremely busy by the departure of the glaciologist’s expedition. Lot of things need to be fixed, checked, doubled checked, and re-checked. For our CHASE program, we are allowed to use a new container placed 300m away from the main station where we will place the active pumps. In that place, we have also installed our materials for the passive samplers and the snow samples. Defining the transect and the planning, is not an easy task as they will depend on several factors (the availability of people, especially the guides; the delay of the boat; the glaciologist’s expedition that we will normally join; …). Fortunately, we had the opportunity to visit the first site near the station (Utsteinen, 4km from the station) where Jean-Louis placed the first passive sampler in 2012. Everything is still in good shape and the site is perfect: not too close or too far away from the station, in a valley where wind can flow through, in the middle of the mountains. Tomorrow, we are going to prepare the materials to collect snow there and replace the filter, and install the new poles. It will be the first site where we are going to make our own training to be ready for the other sites more exposed to the wind in more remote area.

From Nadine & Christophe

  

Chilling out

Friday November 24 – Saturday 25. The sky is blue on the PEA where the temperature is -13°C for an elevation of 1387m.
The two first days were dedicated to open our boxes and check our materials. Everything was properly packed in Brussels and therefore arrived safely. We then followed the trainings: the camp preparation, the first help training, skidoo training, GPS training, and crevasse training. The landscapes are exceptional with the nunataks growing from the ice cap, with a totally blue sky at the back. We are now ready to travel to the sampling sites.

From Nadine & Christophe

Arrived in Princess Elizabeth Station!

Wednesday evening (at 10:00 pm – Belgian time) we finally left Cape Town for Antarctica with an extraordinary plane: the Illioushin. After a safe trip (the pilot was exceptional – we could not feel the taking of or landing), we arrived at the Novo station at 4 am. But we had to wait more, because the planning was to reach the PES in the evening. Therefore, we slept and read and … tasted the Russian food (bof, bof…). The C-GEAI (DC3) transported us and all our luggage to the PES during 1:30. We arrived at the PES around 9 pm. What was the feeling to put the foot in Antarctica and at the so incredibly beautiful place of PES!! I can not explain, but you can certainly imagine. The sky was totally blue, the mountains were majestic at the top of the wide white ice cap… In this cold but pretty good weather, the reception committee was warm and so friendly. The station is growing to welcome more people and scientists, and offers comfort and conviviality.

From Nadine Mattielli