Saturday, May 27, 2006

Friday, 26. May. A massive melt layer...

9.00: -10,8 C, 5-6 m/s from 330 true, 924,9 mb, surface contrast good, horizon good, visibility to horizon, clear sky. 21.00: -12,6 C, 3-4 m/s from 295 true, 925,4 mb, surface contrast good, horizon good, visibility to horizon, clear sky.

Today the drill trench was dug out. The trench is directly in front of the drill tower. When the drill is flipped from horizontal to vertical, the lower part flips into the trench. The digging turned out to be harder than expected. The trench was to be 2.8 m deep, but at 2.4 m we hit a massive layer of refrozen meltwater. The layer is at least 60 cm thick. Is the rest of the ice cap like this or is it just a very thick layer? We will see when the drilling starts. This seems to be last summer's layer. In that case, the annual precipitation is enormous. The skate section and the motor were mounted on the drill. We made a dinner table for the kitchen instead of the plywood sheet on cardboard boxes. The Kansas team completed 5 profiles today. During the last trip Dennis fell off his seat on the Nansen sled and since he is sitting behind the tall radar box, Claude did not notice he was missing. Claude continued to the end of the profile and when he turned around, he realized that Dennis was missing. Dennis was just a tiny dot 5 km away. Sverrir has advised Dennis to use a safety belt from now on!! Lars has set up the inner 1 km strain net and measured positions with GPS. Andreas made lunch with home baked bread and J.P. cooked breaded cutlets with boiled vegetables in white sauce for dinner.

We have been in contact with Copenhagen and VECO in Søndrestrøm over the Iridiumm phone.

Thursday, 25. May. Fun in the snow

Last night we got about 4 cm of fresh snow which fell mainly as ice crystals from a clear sky. The phenomenon is called "diamond dust" and is very beautiful. The ice crystals are created in the air while you watch it and against the sun the air shines like fireworks. The fresh snow covered everything as a soft blanket and erased all sharp edges from last week's storm. The weather events from the weekend seem almost unreal now.

14.00: -8,2 C, 3 m/s from 300 true, 924,8 mb, surface contrast good, horizon good, visibility to horizon, clear sky. 17.00, 3 m/s from 120 true (an uncommon direction) but at around 20.00 the wind calmed. 22.00: -9.2 C, calm, 923.8 mb, surface contrast poor, no horizon, visibility 100 m, clear sky and fog.

A new day of activity. We made a line of national flags: Denmark, Greenland, Iceland, USA and Sweden (Andreas is Swedish). Steffen and Sverrir organized the drill tent and assembled the drill tower. J.P., Bruce and Andreas had fun digging a 15 m snow tunnel. You dig a deep trench and cover it with blocks of snow. Snow is a fantastic building material. The tunnel ends in the floor of the drill tent. When it gets warmer, a fan will suck cold air from the tunnel into the drill tent to cool it off. Simon added electrical installations to the drill tent and cooked dinner: Spaghetti and meat sauce. Andreas made lunch: Huge burgers with home baked buns. Lars processed GPS data and Claude and Dennis rode out with the Kansas radar and completed 5 partial profiles. The bottom under the drill site is very flat. The ice thickness is quite constant at 600 m. We also had time to fill out the last holes in the cargo line.

We have been in contact with Copenhagen and FIC in Søndrestrøm over the Iridium phone.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Wednesday, 24. May. Digging out the camp

The weather is really good and we are ready to get started. 12.30: -7.1 C, 3 m/s from 310 true, 933.2 mb, surface contrast good-fair, horizon good, visibility to horizon, high thin clouds.

21.00: -8.4 C, calm, 930.5 mb, surface contrast fair, horizon fair-poor, visibility 5 km, overcast with thin clouds, snow.

As the weather report indicates, the conditions for outside work have been really good. We have gotten a lot of things done. We dug out all the long boxes from the snow masses, i.e., the drill, the drill tower and the ECM equipment. Inside the drill tent the ice core drill is done including the belt saw and everything. We have carried the 180 kg drill cable drum inside the drill tent. We moved the generator from its temporary spot to the place where the camp's cables come out from. A large part of the temporary cables have been removed. We dug out the two wrecked tents. The small Keron tunnel tent is dead. The poles can be used as spares for the others. The large red North Face tent stood up once we removed the snow. Despite the dramatic appearance, astonishingly little damage has been done. The top canvas is dead, but the tent is fine. We just need to repair one small bit of tube for a pole. The poles can be repaired with the spares we have here. It is simply amazing! A skidoo has been repaired. The broken poles on two other North Face tents have been changed.

Lars has measured the altitude of the drill site: 725 m geoid height, or 695 m over msl. The Kansas team has mounted their bottom radar and it is working. The ice thickness is about 600 m here.

Bruce cooked a really delicious dinner: Onion soup, asian inspired wok with rice and blackberry pie with ice cream.

We have talked to VECO in Kangerlussuaq, Copenhagen and Alborg over the Iridium phone.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Tuesday, 23. May. The sun is back :-)

Further pictures

During the day the weather improved:
13.00: -9.2C, 7 m/s from 360 true, 938.7 mb, surface contrast good, horizon fair, visibility 5 km, 5/8 high clouds.
22.30: -13.1C, 4 m/s from 355 true, 936.6 mb, surface good, horizon good, infinite visibility, a bit of ice fog.

The Honda generator is alive again, after spending the night in the kitchen. The speed regulator had been frozen, so now we're back to two generators! The dynamo for the other Hatz was taken apart, and we saw that a wire in the coil had loosened, probably because of ice. The wire had broken and damaged the outer part of the coil. We tried to repair it by gluing and soldering, but it didn't work, and we ordered a new one. The second Hatz engine works fine now after using a tip from the distributor in Aalborg. It was not a a matter of dirt in the fuel intake, but a loose magnet. Status: We have two working generators and a spare engine.
When the weather improved the activity level in camp exploded. We dug and dug, and the snow was beeing thrown around. Almost everything had disappeared. The cargo line was lifted 1-1.5m, and Sverrirs carpenter table was lifted by 1.65m. It was in the middle of a drift. The two snow covered skidoos and the Nansen sledges were excavated and a working again. Our loo was lifted 1m. We started to lift the third of the floor for the drill tent that we had put up one week earlier. There were no drifts at the drill site, the surface was in level with the rest of the ice cap which means that we received 65 cm of snow corresponding to 20 cm of ice over the last week ( which is the annual accumulation in Central Greenland)! If such a storm should hit every second week the ice cap would receive 16m of snow (5m ice) every year. We thus assume that the storm was exceptional. We continued to dig and put up the remaining floor and drill tent. We were finished by 22.30.
We have talked to VECO in Kangerlussuaq today.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Monday, 22. May. Better, but still waiting

Sunday evening the wind came down and the blizzard was only "normal". Everybody in camp was relieved and a bit ecstatic. We sorted a bottle of whisky, turned on the music, talked, and all in all had a postponed Saturday evening.
The wind returned shortly during night, but no harm was done. Many slept till after noon. Today the wind has been decreasing all day, maybe we can work outside tomorrow ... By midnight Monday/Tuesday the sun and the whole camp was actually visible and the wind below 8 m/s. At 21.30 Sverrir and Steffen checked the working generator, it seems like our modifications are OK, and there is no further icing.
Weather during the evening: -12C, 8m/s from 335 true, 937 mb, no horizon, no contrast, visibility 100m, overcast, snow and drift.
Our world has become somewhat enlargened, but outdoor work is still impossible for more than 15min at a time. Dennis prepared pancakes for brunch, and Lars made a great lamb-curry-stew for dinner.
The strong wind saturday/sunday costed us a dome tent and a camp bed. When evacuating the tent the wind got hold of the bed and blew it away before Andreas could grab it. Other tents have broken some rods, but we have spares, and will exchange them as soon as weather permits. The tents have been secured with wires. From Copenhagen we received a weatherchart promising better weather for the coming days. We hope so!
We are quite sure that we can hardly recognize camp once it becomes visible again. The snow drifts are enorm both in height and width.
This evening Andreas slid into the depression with our loo and squashed the tent, but he and Sverrir removed the snow, and the tent recovered. Impressive for a cheap camping tent! We will probably have to move the tent to the new surface tomorrow, by now it's inside a whole after all the blowing snow. If we hare had done like we did for the Hans Tausen project, where the drill tent was erected in 1994 for the drilling in 1995 we could probably hardly find the camp anymore. Even Sverrir is impressed by the weather! We are quite sure the polar bears don't come here, they're too smart. We talked to VECO in Kangerlussuaq and Copenhagen on the phone. Apart from that we waited.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Sunday, 21. May, can it still get worse?

The wind got even worse during night. Most of sunday we had wind speeds of 16-20 m/s, which was hard on the tents. Visibility was down to 20m because of blowing snow, we had what is called "white-out". No contours can be seen, there is no difference between the sky and the snow. Everything seems to be floating, because there are no reference points, and you intuitively lean against the wind. You can walk right into a 2m high wall of snow without knowing. The drama started when JP's dome tent inflated like a soccer ball at 4 am. At 10 in the morning two other tents had inflated, and when people crawled to the kitchen tent they found JP, who had been shut up for hours during to a 2m high drift in front of the door. When we dug out the Honda and started it it produced no electricity. That was a bad situation! Three sick generators inside the kitchen tent, no electricity for our tools and cooking. The wind was still very strong. Around noon we arrived at lighting up two primus' to warm up the tent. In polar areas it's very problematic to be in non-heated tents, it becomes incredibly humid. The clothes can't dry, and all electric communication can break down due to condense water. Once the primus' started to spread heat the mood improved. We decided to "cannibalize" the two generators and to connect the good engine with the good dynamo. The Hatz distributor in Aalborg advised Steffen over the Iridium phone. He was very helpful, and the generator worked again at 17.30. for the first time in two days we had a "normal" meal. Everybody is tired but happy, both those who repaired the generator and those who fight to save the remaining tents. It should be OK now, and we just hope that the weather improves soon. At the moment traversing camp is hard work in slow-motion. Now at 21.00 we're back to "normal" snowstorm. Lars and JP are happy they brought the big kitchen weatherport! During the day we have been in Iridium contact with: VECO in Kangerlussuaq, St. Nord, Aalborg and Copenhagen.
Typical weather: -12 C, 16-20 m/s winds from 340 true. 928,53 mb, horizon:
nil, surfacecontrast: nil. visibility 20 m. Blizzard. The air so full of
blowing snow that sun was not seen.
At 2200 visibility increased to 50 m and winds dropped to 11 m/s (the
usual blizzard).

Saturday, 20. May, chaotic Saturday

Saturday evening in the field is usually an "evening out" wearing nice clothes, eating good food and relaxing, but this day was completely different:
The snowstorm continues and it's Saturday. Then at 16.00 what we all feared happened, our diesel generator suddenly stopped to produce electricity. The dynamo gave up because it was full of ice. We had to start our faithful Honda petrol generator, and the kitchen was once again transferred into a generator workshop. It was simply impossible to work outside. Now we were in the odd situation to have two generators, one where the engine worked and one where the dynamo worked. We tried to attach a long ventilator tube to the dynamo to avoid icing, but we couldn't decouple engines and generators! Saturday evening passed with repairs and JP served spaghetti Carbonara at 23.00 in the middle of chaos. What a Saturday! During dinner we talked about our situation. The camp was running on the petrol generator which is not good since we didn't bring too much petrol (mostly diesel) and the Kansas people have to drive skidoos for their measurements.
Weather:-13 C, 12-16 m/s winds from 340 true, 936.1 mb, horizon: nil, Surface contrast: nil, visibility 50 m. Overcast, blowing snow.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Friday, 19. May, The snow only gets worse

Again it's been storming all night and the whole Friday. Visobility dminished further. A typical weather report for Friday:
Temperature -13C, 15 m/s, wind from 345 true, no horizon, np contrast, visibility down to 20 m. Snow and strong drift. In the afternoon visibility became so bad that people were advised only to go to the tents two at a time. In the evening visibility improved, and we could see the closest tents, Steffens definition of visibility:" It's unchanged as far as I can see!"
The camp has been quiet all day. People only leave the nice and warm kitchen tent for 5-10 min at a time. The drifts some time go up to our necks - and we almost have to swim through. We had to give up the first loo, it was to difficult to reach. We watched movie in the afternoon and evening again, Sverrir cooked lunch, and Claude american steaks for dinner. We have talked to VECO in Kangerlussuaq on the Iridium phone. In the afternoon we inspected the generator and picked up two diesel drums from the drifts. We know the sun shines somewhere above, but we would really like to see it now. When we came to Nord last Thursday the sun was shinning over Flade Isblink all day, so we know it's possible. We are all well, but bored. We have had the STD-C telex on all day, it's connected to the Atlantic Ocean East satelite. We have sendt telex to the internet today, although sofar it's cheaper to use the Kansas internet.

A picture of Simon on his way back from the generators. They are behind the shields to the left. To the right is the loo. The distance is about 15 m.

A picture of the kitchen, our cosy spot at the moment.