Graeme's photos and notes from Antarctica, November 2007
(Click on any image for a larger view)

Received 3 November

Dear all 

A quick update on our travels to the deep south.


Leaving Christchurch on a cold frosty morning then arriving down here at McMurdo on a calm day with some cloud and a temperature of -20 made me remember what a truly magical place this is and how great it is to be back. Scott Base has not changed much in the last 4 years although there is a new bar and mess.   Have already managed to get over to the US McMurdo Base for lunch to catch up with various US work colleagues and plan for some of our coming joint activities - no doubt will also include some social activities and probably a few too many beers both there and here.


Had field safety training two days and a night camping out on the sea ice dead calm, not a sound, and a great evening meal followed by a walk in the cool evening air.   In comparison to some of the other courses who had high winds we had it very easy this time.  Have included a few photos to show what a hard life it is!

Have started some survey work for the proposed wind farm to power Scott and McMurdo Bases on the hills above the two bases.   Some of the sites we have to put photo control is in rather dangerous areas to get to so are having to arrange helicopter support for some of this work.  Great place for a fantastic view but unfortunately catches the wind which makes it uncomfortable - today the weather has not been so good  with a strong wind and a wind chill factor down to -60 - almost Condition 2.   A few minutes in the wind and the fingers and face is numb so not much work done outside today but a good day to catch up on emails and get some planning underway. Tomorrow is Sunday and the wind drops will try to get out to do some field work again.


Making plans to head out to Cape Roberts about a 40min helicopter ride from McMurdo - for three days at the end of the week to carry out some sea level gauge calibrations.   Will be good to get away from the base and do some camping out.  Have the sausages and red wine ready for a BBQ.  Will be accompanied by one of our UNAVCO US colegues for the three days.
Take care and I'll update with some new photos soon.


Received 7 November

Since last giving you an update the weather has taken a turn for the worst and we have been in white out condition and Condition 1(the worst) for much of the time which has essentially kept us confined to base.   The wind seems to be dropping slowly and it is looking a little brighter so might get outside this afternoon.  All air flights to and from Christchurch have been cancelled so there is a big backlog of people waiting to come south.


In the mean time it has be an opportunity to arrange gear for our trip out to Cape Roberts at the weekend.


So what does one do to entertain ones self if you are caught in a storm for three days here at Scott Base.   Well there is always the opportunity to dress up and watch the Melbourne Cup live on TV (see attached photo).  For US friends the Melbourne Cup is a very famous Australian horse race held once a year.   Unfortunately I did not win the sweep stake!


Other than that it has been very quite around the base and a chance to catch up on some paper work.   Tonight some US work colleagues are coming over from McMurdo for dinner so will be good to catch up with them and with the brightening weather we might get outside this afternoon and do some survey work around the Base.


All the best for now.


Received 12 November


The weather has finally come right and as I remember it should be, blue skies, calm, and a very warm -10 degrees.

Managed to get out and do some work around Scott Base and set up the tidal calibration GPS on the ice in front of Scott Base yesterday.  We were supposed to fly out to Cape Roberts but because of the unsettled weather that trip has been postponed for 2 weeks and I will miss the trip!

Last night was Saturday night so went over to McMurdo for some night life at one of several bars there.  Must be getting old as we didn't stay long preferring the quieter pace of life back at Scott Base

Today dawned fine so went out to Cape Evans (Scotts Hut) and Cape Royds (Shackletons Hut) to redo a deformation survey of the huts.  Both huts are nearly 100 years old and are beginning to suffer from the Antarctic weather elements.  A major programme is underway to preserve the huts any the many artifacts that are still present in them.

Encountered some of the local wildlife along the way see attached.

Unfortunately my short stay on the ice this year has almost  come to end and, weather permitting I shall be returning to Wellington in a couple of day and leaving the remaining work to another LINZ surveyor, Glen, whose first time it is on the ice.

Its almost midnight so am about to go out onto the ice in front of  Scott Base and take some photos among the ice pressure ridges there with the low sun angle.

All the best for now.