Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Drilling through the Nansen Ice Shelf

We just returned from the Nansen Ice Shelf, where we drilled two holes through 400 m of ice. We installed ocean instruments into the ocean cavity below the ice. A relatively new technique allows us to measure a continuous profile of ice and water temperatures with a fibre optics cable. All instruments are now read by an AMIGOS II station and data relayed to NSIDC in Boulder CO by Iridium modem. The station was built by Ronald Ross of Polar 66 and Ted Scambos of the University of Colorado, and Dale Pomraning and I were responsible for the hot water drilling.

A view down the Nansen Ice Shelf. The two islands in the shelf are Inexpressible Island in the distance and Vegetation Island. Inexpressible Island was the location where Scott's Northern Party spent a miserable and very windy winter dug into a snow cave. The reason for the name is that the actual names given by the surviving party where not fit to print.

Vegetation Island, named for the lichen that apparently grows there
Our camp cook tent

Master driller Dale

The hot water drill system with drill hose in the foreground, water basins, pump and heaters
Jin Suk, our Korean helper, finds hot water drilling very exciting!

The Eisenhower Range. Note the drifting snow plumes over the mountains.

Camp with impressive snow drifts in the background.
 This area is famous for extreme wind. We were lucky at our camp, but were surrounded by wind with some incredible amounts of snow drifts.

The valley in the center is filled by snow drifts that must be well over 100 m high.

One day a penguin decided to visit our camp and he stuck around for about 24 hours. The penguin was molding; during that time they cannot go in the water. Why they wander so far onto the iceshelf is anybody's guess.

During one night of drilling we were treated to a full moon rising in the midnight sun. 

The completed AMIGOS II station.

While we were drilling, other science activities occurred in this area. This is a helicopter with three booms that house radar antennas doing ice thickness surveys.

The Jang Bogo station on our return trip with the Campbell Ice Tongue and Mt. Melbourne in the background.

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