Monday, 25 February 2013

Back in the UK

Arrived back in the UK at Sat lunch time after leaving Halley on Thursday morning. Quite astonishing that you can get so quickly from Halley to the UK. The journey was the opposite of the one I took in Nov 2011, From Halley to Novo, about 900km and 4 hours in a Basler DC3.
We had some excellent views of the spectacular mountains on the journey, I'll post some later.

At Novo we got straight on to the Ilyshian76 for a 5 hour 4000km journey to Capetown, 24 hours of enjoying the warmth and sunshine before flying back to grotty and cold Heathrow.

At just 4 weeks (and four continents) one of my shorter trips to Antarctica.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Quick post before leaving.

I should be leaving early for Novo tomorrow morning. I'll be out of internet for a few days, perhaps until I am back in the UK. here are a couple of random photos from around Halley VI.

This is my shadow off the bridge late one evening. The bridge separates the two halves of the station, each of which have generators; so the bridge means that even if there was a serious fire we would still retain living space and a working set of generators.

The next picture is of the phone booth in the summer accommodation module - I like it!

End post

Halley VI - inside science modules.

The two modules at the south end of the station are the science modules. I posted some pictures last year taken in the science modules, here are some more. This is one of the project labs.

This is the wet chemistry lab.

Here is our science store room from two angles:

At the very end of the station, is the fieldprep room.

And upstairs is the meteorological observation room.

Every module has its own plant room that controls the hydraulic legs and the heat and vent for that module.

End post.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

More inside Halley VI

Last year I posted some photos of inside Halley VI. Here are some more. This is the quiet room at the north end of the  modules:

This is Ant the chef in the Kitchen:

Here is the bar area:

And here are the very posh stairs that lead to the gym and the TV room.

End post

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Halley VI Gym

Halley VI has a great gym, maybe a bit too full of equipment.

Its upstairs in big red module. Here is the view in the opposite direction.

And here is the view from the running machine, looking south over the air intakes and generator exhausts of one of the energy modules.

However, if the weather is reasonable I much prefer to run or ski outside.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Bedrooms at Halley VI

The bedrooms at HalleyVI are small but really comfortable. In winter people get a room to themselves but in summer there is someone in each bunk. They have lots of storage space and nooks and crannies. They are quite hard to get a good photo of because they are quite small, but it gave Peter penguin several opportunities to get in the picture!

The beds are really long which I find great. The Phillips lights are nice - they act as alarm clocks and they also have daylight bulbs in them to help the winterers avoid seasonal adjustment disorder.

Friday, 15 February 2013

The Maggy Tunnel

Here's a bit of Halley that most people (even those who come here) never see. It's the magnetometer shaft. On the outside it looks like a big wooden box on the snow:

But inside it leads to a tunnel about 7m under the snow (and getting deeper) that contains a very sensitive magnetometer.

And the small lab where the computers for the magnetometers are:

The magnetometers are very sensitive and need to be thermally and physically stable which is why they are in a tunnel down in the snow. They are used to measure electrical currents flowing in the ionosphere which tells scientists about the way that solar wind connects to the earths atmosphere.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

What a lovely evening

Yesterday was blowing about 25 knots, cold and drifting snow, however today the weather just got better and better and ended with a lovely still and sunny evening. I went for a ski around the station perimeter. I put photos in my blog last year of me skiing so rather than repeat them, here is a photo of my shadow while skiing.

I know some ex-Halley fids (people who come south are known as colloquially as fids, after the name Falkland Island Dependencies Survey which was a very early name for BAS) read my blog. One thing that has changed in recent years is that we now groom the snow a lot more. The groomer was initially purchased for grooming the runway for larger planes like the Basler DC3. However the groomer has turned out to be very useful, the whole station is regularly groomed in the summer which makes it easier to walk around and less harsh on vehicles. One benefit of this is that the perimeter occasionally gets groomed. Here it is tonight, a lovely smooth track, still soft but tomorrow it will make a lovely running surface once it hardens up.

The tent is for people who would normally not get a chance to sleep in an Antarctic tent because their jobs are on station. Although I don't expect to sleep in a tent this season I have done so many times in the past.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Halley VI in winter colours

Its getting distinctly murky at night and in a week or or so, when I leave there will be the first of the sunsets. But I will never see Halley VI in its winter colours. One of last year's winterers, Sam Burrell, has kindly given me some of his pictures from the depth of winter. Here is a great one of the Aurora over the station.

And another showing the modules in the dark.

But here is my favorite one of Sam's pictures.

End of post

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Halley Again

Halley VI is jacked up and prepared for its winter ahead.

In fact these photos were taken almost exactly a year ago. Both the station and I look pretty much the same - I still have the same hat! The one above is taken of the East side of the station, with the camera facing NW.

The one below is of the North end of the station with the camera facing South.

end post

Monday, 11 February 2013

Flight from Rothera part 2.

Lack of views on the way over meant I took the opportunity to take some photos inside the plane. Here is Peter Penguin and yours truly in the cockpit.

And for those of you who like dials and switches, here are the controls:

The reason the Twin Otter can fly for so far with a reasonable payload is that we have an extend range fuel tank in the back.

And here I am in the back of the plane.

End post

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Flight from Rothera - part 1

Here is the route from Rothera to Halley.

The distance that the Twin Otter aircraft can fly depends upon how much stuff we put inside it. We had minimal cargo, and just two of us passengers and the pilot Adam which gives about a 6 hours endurance. Unfortunately it takes longer than this to fly to Halley so we had to refuel somewhere. The primary target to refuel was Fossil Bluff, two hours flying south of Rothera. All of the fuel at Fossil Bluff has previously been flown there which means it is expensive, but cheaper than the fuel at Sky Blu which is yet another hour further south. Although the weather wasn't great, and the views overall were disappointing, there was break in the clouds which gave us some views and also allowed us into Fossil Bluff to refuel.

From Fossil Bluff it was just a little over 5 hours over to Halley. Total distance Rothera to Halley, 1800km.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Arrived Halley

After a long flight of about 7 hours I have arrived at Halley. The station looks really impressive, when I left last year the furniture and finishing touches were still needed, now those details have been added and the station lived in for a year, everything seems far more homely.

Unfortunately the internet is deadly slow here and doing blog posts could be more problematic - I am trying this one by the email upload. Here is a photo taken at the plane refueling point about 2hrs into the journey.

I'll post more pictures later if this one works.

Thursday, 7 February 2013


I should have been flying from Rothera to Halley today but the weather on route wasn't good enough, there was an unexpected bonus of waiting here:- A pair of humpback whales were see drifting slowly past the end of the runway. Humpbacks have a very distinctive swimming style, where you normally just see their dorsal fin, until they dive deep when they raise their tail flukes. We watched them swim by for about 10mins and then they raised their tail flukes and we thought that was that, but then just a few moments later they came bursting out of the water in a big splash and a whoop from us watchers. This wasn't a photograph from Rothera this morning but it could have been ( I was much to interested in watching to fetch a camera).

All this happened on the walk from breakfast to work - how cool is that?

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Rothera and renewables.

Here is a general view of Rothera.

The buildings are all conventional construction but in a unusual place. In the foreground is a building known as Giants which is where my bedroom is. In the far left is the aircraft hanger, and between is the runway. You might need to click the picture to see it larger but in the center is the aircraft control tower.

Rothera has quite a bit of renewable energy, mostly solar hotwater such as these tubes on the building in which we eat.

There is some solar photovoltaics that generate electricity like these on the the new Dutch building.

I also saw a water heater which is being made to go into a field camp, the idea is it melts snow in the drum for washing etc.

Probably our biggest use of renewable energy is for powering remote instrumentation like some of  equipment I work on.

End Post

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Peter the Penguin

A few nights ago it was a lovely evening so Peter and I took a walk round the circumference of the small rocky point of Rothera. There are fine views across the sea:

And some wildlife such as this Weddell seal

And of course some penguins. Here is Peter meeting a pair of Adelies.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Science at Rothera

Lots of scientists such as glaciologists, geologists and ice core drillers use Rothera to fly to remote areas of Antarctica where they will camp while doing their work. However there is lots of science activity at the station itself.

There are some really good laboratories for the biologists. Many of the biologists dive into the cold waters around Rothera and bring back no end of strange and wonderful animals.

Biology is not my expertise, but as far as I can tell some of the main things they are studying is how the animals will react to the changing temperatures on the peninsula, and how the food chain is involved in C02 drawdown into the southern

Rothera has many meteorological and climate studies. There is a full met station here and many automatic weather stations on the peninsula that are deployed and maintained from Rothera. Four met balloons are launched a week which measure temperature, humidy and wind to about 30km in the atmosphere. The radars here give temperatures and winds at higher altitudes than that, up to about 100km. There are also optical instruments, Very Low Frequency receivers and magnetometers that reach higher still. Here are I am deploy an instrument here called a search coil magnetometer.

I like the search coil magnetometer - it looks like something that Dr Who might have in the Tardis.