January 4th 2014
A new year and a new field season! I write this with a cup of tea and an incredible view of the Cordillera Darwin below. It’s hard to imagine a year has passed and we are flying back to Antarctica for our second field season. A lot has happened in between, but right now it doesn’t feel like it; it seems we were here only yesterday! We’re making the jump over the Drake Passage between Punta Arenas in Chile and the British Antarctic Survey’s research station at Rothera Point in Antarctica. The flight should normally be a quick four hours; today, it will be more like ten! Some crucial cargo means we’ll be hanging a left soon at Cape Horn to make our way to Rothera via the Falkland Islands, which are actually north of Punta. The detour south is to avoid Argentinian air space in this rather sensitive region. So far we’ve endured 40 hours in transit from the wet and storm-lashed shores of the UK and we are all looking forward to a descent sleep tonight at Rothera!
Our team has changed somewhat this year. David Sugden, Stuart Dunning and Malcolm Airey won’t be joining us. David is moving house, Stuart will soon be a dad, and Malcy is taking a 6-week break in between back-to-back winters at Rothera; they will be missed! John Woodward and I (Andy Hein) are returning this year along with our field GA Scott Webster. New this year is Phil Stevens, Kate Reid and Shasta Marrero. Phil is a new BAS field assistant at the start of an 18-month stint. Kate is John’s PhD student and she’ll be spending the season dragging the radar across the ice and helping out with laser scanning. It’s Kate’s first trip south but she’s no stranger to cold and remote places, having already done fieldwork in Greenland and Svalbard, the former when she was just 16! Shasta is a cosmogenic nuclide expert who will be helping me in the lab, and we’ll also be working together on the mapping and sampling in the field. She’s already been working hard in the chlorine lab to produce first results in time for this trip. It’s Shasta’s first trip to Antarctica and I hope we get there soon because she looks ready to explode with excitement!
That’s it for now; look out for photos soon!
– Andy Hein