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Polar Radar for Ice Sheet Measurements

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Day 16 - May 21 2006

By this morning, as the storm continued unabated for a 6th day, we had lost the alternator on the last of our 3 generators, the lower-power unleaded model, intended for backup only. Not only that, but JP's tent had collapsed on him at about 4 am in 40 mph winds (the highest we have seen yet) and white out conditions. He managed to make his way to the weatherport, only to become drifted in with snow up to the window of the door. Dennis eventually dug him out at about 8 am. At the time, I was only aware that the winds were pushing in my tent wall to my cot, but I actually got my best night's sleep since being here and since the weather was still to bad to work, I didn't get up until 9:30.

By midday today, as our mechanic specialists, Simon, Sverrir and Steffan, labored over both diesel generators in the weatherport, two more tents partially collapsed under the relentless winds. Fortunately mine wasn't one of them, but Dennis and Andreas had to move into other tents.

Tents collapsed by strong winds. The tent in the foreground was unoccupied. The next tent housed Dennis and Andreas. Dennis relocated to JP�s tent and Andreas moved in with Lars.

Despite the setbacks, I am happy to report the situation is much better now. With the help of an Iridium phone call to a Danish mechanic, we managed to salvage the only good alternator on one diesel generator and the one good engine on the other, and combined them to make one good generator. By this evening, things were pretty much back to normal, and the change in mood was like day versus night. It is amazing how spirits can be changed by fixing one generator. Right now after a hot, two-course dinner of pasta and ham, we are enjoying music and snacks around the table while telling jokes and stories about our life experiences.

There is even hope for repairing the other diesel generator as well as ordering a third new one in time for it to arrive with Dorthe at the midseason exchange. Through all this, we have remained mostly warm and comfortable. The worst thing has been the long streak of bad weather which has been hard on our generators and buried some of our equipment. If the winds and snow would just let up, we could get our work done. The weather forecast from the Danish site is once again encouraging and predicts a change for the better by tomorrow afternoon.


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