20 November, 1996
Max temp - 2.6 ° C Min temp - 9.9 ° C 8 knots wind trace of snow We arose at 5:30 because we wanted to do some more e-mail before we started errands for the day.
After breakfast, Jennifer and I run errands. The tent, sleeping bag, fleece liner and pads that were left out to dry Tuesday need to be packed up and placed in our "cage" The cage is a caged area where equipment amassed for a scientific group is stored. When we get ready to go to the field all the equipment except our clothes and personal items will be in the cage ready for transport.
Jennifer and I also need to finalize our check list to travel to Willie field to gather data for her research. In addition to the apparatus we need for our tests, we will need to order a bag lunch from the galley and a van to drive to the field on the Ross Ice shelf. We also need to remember to bring the compass, tape measure, and a survival bag for two people. We will need to dress in our ECW (extreme cold weather) gear and take along some extra gloves, hats, and socks. We are really upbeat about this and look forward to tomorrow's little excursion. Dr. Braaten will drive us out the site and then have us drive back. The road is indicated by red and green flags, but some area are marked with black flags where the crevasses are. It is confusing to know which red and green flags to follow and where to turn. There are so few landmarks out there. Everything is white.
We have to take helicopter training if we are going by helicopter to a remote site. This turned out to be 3 1/2 hours. It seems as if all I do is get trained for something, but this was interesting. We learned:
(1) always approach a helo from the front and/or down
(2) personal protection - seat belts and helmets. They showed us the helmets and how to adjust them. They also showed slides of helmets that had saved the lives of their wearers. A little too graphic for my taste, but at least I know they maximize safety
(3) location of the first aid equipment and fire extinguisher
(4) location of the ELT (emergency locator transmitter) and how to turn it on or off if we need to if the chopper goes down
(5) location of the main power switches and fuel controls in case of an emergency and the pilot is incapacitated
(6) emergency exits (break out windows and pulls to drop doors from hinges) (7) how to load equipment safely. Any equipment that could possibly move could be a danger
(8) always stay away from the tail rotor. If things blow away, let them go. Don't chase them.
It really was interesting to climb in and around the two helicopters. The Hueys carry 9 passengers but the E Stars are smaller and only take 4 passengers. I don't know which we will be on. Either way, much of our gear will have to be transported by "swing load" This means it gets bagged up in a net and the helo comes down and snags it. The bag is carried below the main body of the chopper. We will still have to either use two choppers or have one make two trips.
The Navy used to fly the helicopters and now a private company Petroleum Helicopter International, PHI, has the contract. They only use 1 pilot instead of the tradition of using 1 pilot and several crew members as the Navy did. Thus we have to be more aware of the safety and will have to help load and unload the chopper.
Nevertheless, we have a lot of baggage to transport to the remote site. Here is a partial list which excludes much of the scientific equipment: 2 Scott tents (one to sleep in, one as a potty tent), 2 Sierra nylon mountain type tents, 4 sleep kits (sleeping bags, thermal insulated pad, foam pad for comfort and fleece sleeping bag liner, pillow), 1 huge kitchen kit for 4 people, 125 pounds of food, 4 thermos bottles, 4 plastic bottles for liquids, foam to keep these warm, 3 shovels of various sizes and shapes, 2 ice saws, 150 ft of rope, one 2 person survival bag (described yesterday), Coleman 2 burner stove, compass, various plastic bags, 3 tarpaulins, two HF radios (55 lb. each), two VHF hand held radios, GPS (global position by satellite), potty set-up, fiberglass "banana" sled to transport gear, several hundred plastic bags for ice cores, large auger to cut ice cores, 300 plastic cuvettes to take small samples, ice ax, various bags for transporting things, 4 bags of 18 tent pegs. Camping on the ice just isn't like it was camping in the Smoky Mountains like I did last year.
Being here has made me aware how difficult it is to do field work. I have only done work in labs before and you don't have to worry about weather, etc. After dinner we attend another science lecture by a group of 8 scientists studying the plankton bloom in polynya, small areas of the Ross Sea which are melted but surrounded by sea ice.
We asked a team from Univ. of Wisconsin to get us some real time data for Willie Field, where Jennifer and I will be gathering data tomorrow. I was surprised at the temperatures. As I said earlier, the temperature here in McMurdo has been relatively mild, hovering around freezing. At Willie Field the temperature the last 4 days has been from -6C to -14C, much colder. Wind velocities have been from 3-7 m/s. (Students try to convert that to miles/hour.) (What is the temperature in Fahrenheit?)
By then I am exhausted and only help a little in the lab. We're back in our room by 10:30 and want a good rest before our adventure tomorrow. Carole
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