Tuesday, 11 February 2020

The field campaign is finishing!!

Hello from Princess Elisabeth Station!

This might be our last day in the station before leaving to start the trip to go back to Belgium. The time flies!! Today, we are packing all the laboratory material and samples we have to bring with us. This evening all the cargo boxes will be stored on a big sledge and tomorrow morning, around 7 a.m., we will all departure to Perseus, the closest airstrip for big cargo. Although Perseus is not so many kilometers away from the station, it will take us at least 6 hours to arrive there, because we will be traveling inside containers and bringing big sledges, so the speed won’t be over 20 km / h. In Perseus, we will also need quite some time to get the flight prepared, as everything we are bringing needs to be store inside the plane, including big containers. Then, we would depart to South Africa and we may stop in Novo station again or not, we still don’t know. As everyone says here, “You know when you arrive to Antarctica but never when you will leave”.

Concerning the project, this week has been very productive as we were very lucky with the weather conditions, which allowed us to map with the drone the whole nunataks we have been sampling during these three years. So, finally we have been able to accomplish all the objectives of the project! We’ve been in Teltet, Perlebandet North, Pingvuinane South and North and Petrellnuten. In the two first nunataks, we had to reach the summit, because the drone needs to be controlled from there, so Juri could see where it is going during the whole flight. Therefore, we’ve had the opportunity to practice some hiking and enjoy amazing views from the top! Here, you can see some of them!

View of Utsteinen nunatak and the PEA station from Teltet summit. As you can see, there was almost white out this day.
Another view from Teltet nunatak

Valentina and Raphy going down Perlebandet North summit
The other side of Perlebandet North nunatak
Finally, last night we gave a short talk to everyone in the station to explain them what we have been doing during this campaign and the objectives of the project. Valentina showed some preliminary results from previous years, Quentin explained what kind of information from the nunataks he is obtaining with satellites data and Bea introduced the importance of the biocrusts in drylands and why she is sampling them in Antarctica. Tonight, Juri will show some results obtained with the drone. We believe is important to show to the rest of the crew working in the station what we are doing here, as without their help we would not have been able to achieve all our objectives. From here, we thank all of them for their help: Raphy for been an excellent field guide, always willing to help; the station managers, for organizing all the work so we get it done on time; chefs who provide us with super tasty food; the rest of the crew for always helping when we needed a hand with many things, such as the skidoos or to build everything we might need (as a big wooden box they made). Also, the rest of the scientists and in general everyone in the station, with whom we spent very funny and friendly moments, interesting discussions, hikes or just enjoying some free time, playing some games or drinking a beer on Saturday night. The “Antarctic spirit” that one can feel when living with such a nice group of people for one month, in this case, sharing everything and working together to make the station a charming place to inhabit, is an amazing experience that probably most of us won’t ever forget.


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