Nick Frearson, Gravimeter Instrument Team, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory:
PUNTA ARENAS, Chile–I have become a night watchman of sorts. The gravimeter we’re using in our flights over Antarctica must remain powered at all times, so between flights I hole up in the old terminal next to the aircraft watching, …and watching. We won’t be on the first few flights, so our focus for now is to make sure the gravimeter functions smoothly in the air. We have rigged up a light in the window of the plane connected to the gravimeter rack so I can tell instantly if we lose power. I can also see if the constant wind whipping through the area rips any of the cables loose.
For our first mission to Getz Ice Shelf on Friday we had cool temperatures of 40 ° F and a BRISK wind of 40 knots. The plan is to start with the most difficult flights– areas that are farthest away or with the worst weather– early in the season. Getz Ice Shelf lies along the fringe of Marie Byrd Land and creeps into the Amundsen Sea in West Antarctica. This eleven hour flight will cover a long stretch of sea ice, onto Getz ice shelf, and then up the Davitz glacier.
Follow our flights through twitter updates linked to our icebridge webpage www.ldeo.columbia.edu/icebridge