Monday, 11 February 2013


Some photos of the Humpback whales in late January. Humpbacks were seen most days since these, including two breaching outside the office windows on my last day (when the camera was back in my romm unfortunately!)

Why I'm here!

 Thought I ought to get round to a post about the work here. There are two strands, firstly we brought two ocean gliders down with us on the ship. In a break with tradition, we will take them both home again! The gliders are autonomous underwater vehicles, capable of staying out for up to three months. They communicate via iridium satellite so we can check on the data and update waypoints and flying parameters.

An ocean glider not in the ocean. Outside the Bonner lab to test satellite communications

 They don't have a propeller, instead moving by changing their density. They do this by moving a piston in and out at the nose to either sink or float. The vertical motion is partially turned to horizontal motion by the wings and moving a large battery in front of the wings - forward to tip the nose down, back to bring the nose up. This process makes them extremely efficient (3 months battery life) but also very slow (1km/hr)

About to deploy a glider off Sea Rover, before the winch got in the way (photo: Paul Samways)

 Glider in the water. We have deployed them on short missions close to base and also on longer trips away from the base.

Talking to the glider from a RIB to find out where it is before recovering it.

The other part of the work is checking the handover between Marine Assistants, who spend two summers and a winter on base collecting data from the bay and also diving to collect animals and deploy logging instruments. Mairi (above) is coming to the end of her stint. The final job is to bring live animals back to the UK in a transport aquarium on the ship.

This season is also the first of the Dutch collaboration so has seen a big increase in the amount of sampling in the bay. We've often had all three sampling boats out at once.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Rothera Buildings

A quick tour round the buildings at Rothera

 Looking down over the base

New Bransfield House, source of food so the most important building

Admirals, the main accomodation block on the left, Fuchs House (field store) on right.

Fuchs House, the source of tents, skis and manfood. Manfood is basically dehydrated ration packs, the name is to distinguish it from dogfood, dating back to pre-1994 when there were Huskies on base.
Giants House, the rest of the accommodation
 Control tower for base and runway
North beach storage containers and hangar behind
 Sewage treatment plant
 Some of the vehicles parked up, with the Span behind, where all the rubbish is dealt with
A Gator, the standard base get-around by the span. This season we also have bikes to get around on or for exercise on the runway when it is free.
 More base vehicles parked by Fuchs. The containers are freezers, which come in with food in and go out with ice cores in.
Building Services (the people who keep things working and habitable) office and garage behind.
 Generotor shed, in the process of having the generators replaced this season.
The chippy shed.This is the original building on base, with four people wintering in here.
 Dash 7 taking off. Behind is the Ramp, our access away from base to areas for skiing (downhill and cross country), technical walking and a skiway for planes with skis to land.

Dash 7 landing. This plane gets us to/from Punta (Chile) and takes kit, people and fuel to our blue ice runway to the south. Otherwise we use Twin Otters with skis (and wheel so they also use this runway) to get out into the field.
 Twin Otter coming in to land, in this case from the South Pole, via Sky Blu for refueling. With the skis these can land anywhere without crevasses so are used for putting science camps into deep field.
The hangar, with the newly arrived BAS twin otter and a transiting Borek twin otter. The Borek otter removed its skis at Union Glacier so then has to come here for a solid runway before heading off to Chile.

South end of station, Bonner Lab is on the right, home to the marine science and Gerritsz Lab is on the left, the new lab for the Dutch scientists we now have along to join in the fun. Beyond is the boat shed where we have five small boats for sampling and diving.
The Gerritsz lab, housing the four Dutch science containers. The large doors allow the containers to be removed and swapped with others to allow different science in the future.
The boat shed, with Sea Rover, our new rigid work boat (with electric winch) in front.
Three of our four RIBs in the boat shed. Terra Nova and Stella have hand winches for water sampling. Nimrod and Erebus are used for diving, ferrying people to the islands and for other work such as launching/recovering the gliders.
 Our sampling bay
 For a simple walk we can go round the point, which can take anything from half an hour to over three hours, depending on the company, weather and number of whales and penguins

More photo from round the point