Archive for the ‘Lynn’s Blog’ Category

Lynn’s Blog: October 29th — Setup of Robot Camp

Monday, November 27th, 2017
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Lynn’s Blog

October 29th — Setup of Robot Camp

Lynn Kaluzienski

***Sorry for the delay in posting the following blog entry. Unlike my previous post would suggest, I haven’t been stuck at SPoT camp indefinitely. I’ve actually finished my field season (spoiler alert: it was successful) and made it back to Maine. While the following entries were written in the field, I’ve waited to post them to avoid bandwidth issues at McMurdo. I’ll continue posting on a semi-daily basis through the end of my journey.

Today we had perfect weather and made the 15 km ride to our new camp location. The team split into two groups; three of us rode by snowmobile and the other three followed by piston bully. Once we arrived we immediately set to work erecting tents, organizing equipment, and making our home both “bomb proof” and comfy.

Building a snow wall

Building a snow wall: Using a snow axe and shovel, I carefully measure and cut blocks of ice to excavate and stack along the side of my tent to prevent the prevailing southerly winds. I also relied on Seth Campbell to help move the super heavy blocks (or the ones I forgot to cut in half).

Its hard to imagine on a beautiful day like this that a storm could be around the corner, but its always possible. To prepare for heavy winds and blowing snow we anchor our tents with hundreds of bamboo poles. We also build snow walls to shield our personal tents from southerly gusts (no one likes to dig out ) and make sure all equipment that is stored outside is strapped down.

Tent and equipment behind snow wall

My new home! And all the stuff I have to fit in it.

Once everything is secure we move on to organizing our equipment, setting up the kitchen, and melting snow for water. Its easy to get caught up in the task at hand and forget the time, especially with little change in sunlight. It wasn’t until I came inside out of the cold for dinner (burritos, yum!) that I realized I hadn’t reapplied sunburn. In my past two years of fieldwork, the weather almost always warranted face protection from the wind and cold (such as a balaclava or buff), but even the best days require constant self-preservation from the elements.

Inside the cook tent

Hanging out in the cook tent, doing what we do best.

 

Lynn inside her tent

Inside my humble abode. There’s just enough room to sit and enjoy a book.

Lynn’s Blog: October 28th — Destination SPoT Camp

Wednesday, November 15th, 2017
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October 28th — Destination SPoT Camp

Lynn Kaluzienski

Joshua Elliott, Peter Braddock, Austin Lines, and Lynn Kaluzienski pose for photo in front of SPoT camp, Antarctica

Joshua Elliott, Peter Braddock, Austin Lines, and Lynn Kaluzienski pose for photo in front of SPoT camp

Well, our good weather window has closed and we’ve been camped out at the South Pole Traverse (SPoT) Camp for the past 3 days. While we had good weather the first night we arrived, the weather worsened when we were ready to leave. We elected to stay and wait out the weather instead of setting up camp in blowing slow and little visibility.

High winds, blowing snow and low visibility at SPoT base, Antarctica.

High winds, blowing snow and low visibility at SPoT base.

Lynn’s Blog: October 24th — Surveying the Route

Thursday, November 9th, 2017
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October 24th — Surveying the Route

Lynn Kaluzienski

The field work begins!

Our group is heading to a new site for fieldwork this year approximately 15km south of where we camped last year. In order to make sure the route is safe for travel, I used high resolution satellite imagery and derived strain rates for the region to map out a potential road. Then we survey route with a piston bully and boom out front with radar to make sure there are no crevasses along the route that we won’t be able to cross.

Map of the region. The yellow box highlights our previous field site and the purple box shows this year’s field site.

Map of the region. The yellow box highlights our previous field site and the purple box shows this year’s field site.

 

Strain rate grid overlaid on Sentinel 1 satellite image. Warmer colors have a higher strain rate and are most likely to be crevassed. Pink line shows South Pole Traverse Route, and purple line shows the route we’ve selected.

Strain rate grid overlaid on Sentinel 1 satellite image. Warmer colors have a higher strain rate and are most likely to be crevassed. Pink line shows South Pole Traverse Route, and purple line shows the route we’ve selected.

Seth Campbell, Jim Lever, and I headed out to survey the route while the rest of the team stayed in McMurdo for an additional day to finish packing up the remaining gear. Once we  surveyed the route and found it safe the South Pole Traverse Crew helped tow our heavy gear to camp. They also let us stay at their base overnight (15km from where we’ll set up camp) while we wait of the rest of our team to arrive with the rest of our tents and equipment.

Lynn Kaluzienski‏ and fellow researcher surveying the route

I drive the Piston Bully as Seth Campbell looks at the data along the route to our new camp.

 

boom and radar unit out in front of the Piston Bully

Photo of boom and radar unit out in front of the Piston Bully.

 

South Pole Traverse Team helps unload gear at our new camp site. A portrait of the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen adorns the cargo box that houses the robots.

South Pole Traverse Team helps unload gear at our new camp site. A portrait of the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen adorns the cargo box that houses the robots.

Lynn’s Blog: October 20th — Hurry Up and Wait

Friday, October 20th, 2017
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October 20th — Hurry Up and Wait

Lynn Kaluzienski

The team sets up pulley systems for Crevasse Safety Training

The team sets up pulley systems for Crevasse Safety Training.

It’s been a busy week at McMurdo Base getting ready for our trip out on the ice. We’re one of the first science teams to arrive this season, and the station is still gearing up after the long winter. Though it’s been a slow start to the season, we’ve accomplished a lot on our To Do List.

First, the team has completed quite a bit of training which includes: Field Safety Training, Environmental Awareness Training, Crevasse Safety Training, Light Vehicle Training, Snowmobile Training, and Helicopter Safety Training. It doesn’t matter if it is your first field season, or 36th (like Peter Braddock, our mountaineer) you have to complete the same list of trainings every year. It might seem redundant, but these seminars cover skills that we don’t practice often and it’s a good idea to have a refresher.

The team packs enough food to feed 6 hungry campers for 2 weeks

The team packs enough food to feed six hungry campers for two weeks.

Second, we’ve packed A LOT of gear, equipment, fuel, and food into boxes and loaded them on sleds to be towed out to our camp ~65km away.

Third, weʼve worked out coordinating efforts with several groups here on base, including the South Pole Traverse, Helicopter Operations, MacOPS (McMurdo Communications), FSTOP (Field Safety Training Operations), BFC (Byrd Field Center for field party equipment), and others. It takes a lot of moving pieces to get science teams like us into the field; none of it would be possible without the support of the amazing personnel here at McMurdo.

And of course, after all of our hustling to get things done we’re delayed by weather.

researchers out in the storm

Lynn’s Blog: “You Never Go to Antarctica Twice” — A Bit About That

Thursday, October 19th, 2017
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Expedition 3: Antarctica

Lynn’s Blog

“You Never Go to Antarctica Twice” — A Bit About That

Lynn Kaluzienski

The theory is: you either go to Antarctica once, absolutely hate it, and never return; or you keep going back again and again.

RADARSAT Image of the Ross Ice Shelf with the Shear Zone Region outlined in red.

RADARSAT Image of the Ross Ice Shelf with the Shear Zone Region outlined in red.

I’m lucky enough to be part of the latter group and this is my third field season in Antarctica. My team and I will be traveling to a giant slab of ice extending off the coast of Antarctica, called the “Ross Ice Shelf”. The Ross Ice shelf is the largest ice shelf in Antarctica, so in terms of studying it, we need to focus on a particular place, a place where changes would be the most apparent.

My fieldwork focuses on the McMurdo Shear Zone, an area of ice between the Ross Ice shelf and the neighboring McMurdo Ice Shelf. As the fast ice on the Ross Ice Shelf (RIS) side flows past the slower ice on the McMurdo Ice Shelf (MIS) side, it begins to break apart forming what’s known as a shear zone. My main research goal is to understand how this ice is changing with time, which is important to be able to better understand how sea level will rise in the future.

Close Up of Shear Zone Region

Close Up of Shear Zone Region

To do this, my team and I will track how fast the surface of the ice is moving using GPS data. We will also gather information about the ice below the surface, looking for cracks or crevasses using radar technology. Finally, I’ll incorporate all of this data into a numerical model in order to predict how changes in the ice shelf will impact sea level rise, and how much it will rise in the future.

Lynn’s Blog: How I Got Here!

Wednesday, October 18th, 2017
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Lynne and other researchers deplane in Antarctica

Lynn Kaluzienski

October 13th, 2017: How I Got Here

This is the third time I’ve stepped off a C-17 military plane onto the McMurdo Ice Shelf in Antarctica, but I have the same thought as the two previous times I arrived at this incredible place:

“How did I get here?”

I don’t mean how many days or flights its taken to get from Maine to Antarctica (though more on that later), but how did I end up studying glaciology in one of the most remote locations on earth? As this is my first blog post, I’ll provide a little background on how I came to be a PhD student in glaciology.

As of six years ago I never would have imagined traveling the world to study glaciers. At the start of my undergraduate career at Emory University, I was head-strong in obtaining a degree in astrophysics. Although I don’t like to admit it, I wasn’t very savvy in the outdoors and it was around this time that I began to explore new activities like whitewater rating, rock climbing, and skiing. A pivotal journey for me was completing a five-month trek along the Appalachian Trail following my sophomore year; I realized that whatever career path I took would require a healthy dose of adventure.

When I returned to Emory, I shifted my focus to the geosciences and was particularly eager to apply my background in physics to geophysical problems. I began working on a research project focused on the exploration of iceberg calving and breakup processes in a laboratory setting. Suddenly I was taking a “hands on” approach to studying a real world phenomenon as opposed to events taking place long ago and light-years away.

My research experiences at Emory would serve as the inspiration to direct my abilities towards problems in the Cryosphere and pursue a career in academia. Following my acceptance into the School of Earth and Climate Sciences at the University of Maine, I began my doctoral degree in glaciology.

Now, six years later, after five consecutive flights and having crossed seventeen time zones, I arrive in Antarctica for a third time. This season I’ll be blogging from the field and participating in the Follow a Researcher® program. Both of these attempts to share my research are fueled from the simple fact that I feel incredibly lucky to be in the field of glaciology, a field which I pretty much stumbled upon by accident.

In this blog I will share my experiences as an early career scientist in the hopes of reaching students who’ve never thought to explore STEM related fields as well as others interested in following science as it unfolds.

Seth Campbell in line to check bags for the flight

Seth Campbell in line to check bags for the flight. (It’s dark because its 6:00 in the morning!)

 

Lynn walking off the plane in Antarctica

Walking off the plane. The C-17 has very few windows, and it’s an incredible experience to suddenly step out into the cold and take in the view.

 

Researchers board “Ivan the Terra Bus” for a 45 minute ride to McMurdo Station

All aboard “Ivan the Terra Bus” for a 45 minute ride to McMurdo Station.

 

Joshua Elliott looking out the back of the bus with Mt. Erebus in the background

Joshua Elliott looking out the back of Ivan with Mt. Erebus in the background.