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Polar Radar for Ice Sheet Measurements

Curved ice line
Jagged line
Jagged line
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Day 26 - May 31 2006

This morning continued clear and warm and we started early once again. It was our intention to redo as many lines as possible with the depth sounder before Sverrir and Lars needed both Skidoos for a mission to Station Nord to resupply us with another barrel of critically needed mogas and a few other items. Mogas is regular unleaded gas and is needed primarily for the Skidoos and smaller generators. When we had problems with the diesel generators shortly after our arrival at Flade Isblink, we used the emergency backup generator that burns mogas and that consumed some of our rations intended for the Skidoos and mapping. So, JP worked out a deal with Station Nord for the purchase of one more barrel of mogas. Dennis and I left around 9 and returned around 1:15 pm. In that time, we remapped 4 lines that had been saturated and mapped two additional lines that previously had been flown on a Twin Otter by the airborne KU CReSIS depth sounder.

View of camp through log-periodic antenna from rear of sled while mapping. Note sparkles in snow due to sunlight interacting with ice crystals.

While I was driving the Skidoo along one of the last lines, I was surprised to see a small bird about the size of a sparrow zip by. It happened so fast that it was difficult to tell if the bird had intentionally flown up here or had been carried by the now strengthening winds. Although the ice dome appears lifeless, it is not entirely so. Certainly just to the south of us there are open grasslands with grazing muskox, a few birds and other lifeforms as well. It is likely that there is some microbial activity in the ice as well.

Sverrir and Lars preparing to leave for resupply mission to Station Nord while Simon and Steffan look on.

Lars and Sverrir left for the 2-hour ride to Nord around 3:45 pm. By evening, the winds were howling again at some 24 mph from the SSE with drifting snow and limited visibility. Since the men were headed mostly due north on the Skidoos, the winds would not be a problem for them, but it would have been difficult for us to map under those conditions. We were extremely happy that we had been able to finish the mapping by this time and feeling exuberant at having obtained most of the depth sounder data we had set as our goal in the original proposal to the National Science Foundation. By my calculations, even with a few of our first lines saturated in the upper half of the plots, we had obtained some 85-90% of the depth sounder data we set out for.

Sverrir and Lars head north to Station Nord, some 40 km away. The trip took them about 2 hours.

We were also pleased to learn that Bruce continues to feel better and seems well on the road to recovery. Injury is one of our greatest fears at a remote field camp. When we are this remote, it could be 24 hours or longer before someone who is injured can be evacuated. In the case of a serious injury, that amount of time could be the difference between life and death. In the late afternoon, we put away the depth sounder components, pulled out the accumulation radar and installed it in the heated, red Hardigg box that we pull behind on the sled. We will be ready to go again just as soon as the weather breaks.


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