After a year of training, travel, expeditioning, and preparation, this Austral Summer I’m going back to Antarctica to work with the United States Antarctic Program on an science expedition at the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Field Camp, one of the most remote permanent field stations in Antarctica.
I’m very excited to be going back to the ice, and luckily this time have more than the five days of preparation I had last time. Here’s a bit more information about my upcoming scientific deployment, including details on getting me to send you mail from Antarctica!
My Job in Antarctica – Ice Drilling Field Specialist
This year, I’ll be working at the WAIS Divide Ice Core Field Camp for the University of Wisconsin-Madison Space Science and Engineering Center as an Ice Drilling Design and Operations group Field and Drill Specialist. I’ll be on the ice from from December 2014 – January 2015, living and working inland in Western Antarctica .
Basically, I’ll be living in a remote field camp in Antarctica working on a small team to disassemble, package, ship, and store the large DISC Drill. The DISC Drill is an ice coring drill, which has been used for past 7 years to drill 3000+ meters into the antarctica ice in order to extract pieces of ice from deep in the ice sheet. These “core samples” were then packaged up and shipped to a lab and storage facility in Denver. This season, the ice drill is due for some maintenance, upgrading, and relocation to Eastern Antarctica, and it’s my team’s job to take the whole thing apart and get it packaged up and flown back to McMurdo Base, where it will then be transported back to Madison, Wisconsin to undergo repairs and upgrades.
Relevant Links and Files Regarding My Job In Antarctica Summer ’14-’15
- Job Posting/Description – PVL80088 (direct download -PDF)
- My group, the Ice Drilling Design and Operations (IDDO) group is part of the US Ice Drilling Program, and associated with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Space Science and Engineering Center
- Ice Drilling Design and Operations – LONG RANGE DRILLING TECHNOLOGY PLAN – July 18, 2014 (direct download – PDF)
- During the time when the DISC Drill was producing ice cores, those cores were sent to and stored at the US National Ice Core Laboratory
- I’ll be living and working at the WAIS Divide Ice Core Field Camp (WAIS Divide Wikipedia Article)
- For even more info about the entire program, be sure to read the United States Antarctic Program Participant Guide 2014-2016 Edition, which has every little bit of practical info about the program in general. (Direct Download PDF)
- USAP Field Manual (Direct Download PDF)
Living at the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Field Camp
I’ll be living at the WAIS Divide Field Camp, which is a remote field camp in Western Antarctica. To get there, I travel for about four solid days. First, I fly from my home in Colorado to Christchurch, New Zealand via standard commercial airlines. Usually it’s Denver>Los Angeles>Sydney>Christchurch. Then after going through the Extreme Cold Weather gear issue and associated training and briefing at the International Antarctic Center in Christchurch, I fly with the United States Air Force Operation Deep Freeze on a LC-130 Hercules cargo plane from Christchurch, New Zealand to McMurdo Base, Antarctica. Once at McMurdo, I layover for a day or two – until the weather is good, and then get back on an LC-130 and fly from McMurdo to the WAIS Divide Field Camp. Beyond that, I’m not 100% sure on living accommodations, camp setup, etc – those will all be sorted out in the coming months. Photos of WAIS Divide, courtesy of waisdivide.unh.edu.
My first deployment in Antarctica, 2012-2013, South Pole Station
My first deployment to Antarctica was during the Austral Summer of 2012-2013 at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, where I worked as the station’s breakfast cook, and as a field science assistant, wilderness-EMT, and station tour guide. I had a great time working at the south pole, and am excited to get back to the ice to reconnect with old friends and colleagues. During my time at the south pole, I wrote an extensive blog, covering every aspect of live at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. Here’s the wrapup, and links to all of my articles, photos, and videos.
I also did a fun promo spot with San Francisco-based clothing brand Betabrand: