Dan's Antarctic Dairy - Week Two

Monday 10 Jan to Sunday 16 Jan
Just a short diary entry for this week, simply because with this being my first week at work here I was well behaved and surprsingly conscientious, spending a good deal of time refining and organizing my work schedule. All work and no play may make Dan duller, but it's what I'm here for!!

Basically I am required to make weather forecasts for British Antarctic Survey operations every day. The bulk of the work pertains to flying operations in and around the Antarctic Peninsula, the Ronne Ice Shelf and parts of the Ellsworths and Coats Land. I also make forecasts for a British Antarctic Survey vessel operating around islands to the north of the Antarctic mainland and for field parties working at remote sites. There is a weather briefing at 0745. After some experimentation (and some rushing about) I decided to start work at 0515 (earlier than my predecessor!) in order to feel comfortably and adequately prepared for this briefing. I illustrate the briefing with forecast charts for the next 2 or 3 days and an enlarged A3 satellite photo. After this briefing I speak to some of these field parties over the radio and knock out forecasts to one or two other interested parties (eg boatmen, diving personnel, marine assistants, people doing aerial photography etc) and by 1000-1030 the bulk of my work is done. The rest of the day is dedicated to monitoring the weather (effectively checking hourly weather reports from here and some field parties) and checking new satellite imagery to see if any new weather windows open up to get more work done. The bulk of the flying work concerns supplying/dropping off/picking up field parties, keeping landing sites topped up with fuel reserves for longer trans Antarctic flights and finding weather windows for airbourne research work (eg finding periods of sunny weather for aerial photographers).

About once every week to 10 days a plane flies between the Falklands and Rothera transferring personnel and bringing supplies. These flights need forecasting for, especially the flight coming from the Falklands to Rothera which is a 'point of no return flight' meaning fuel capacity causes the flight to have a point of no return and therefore we have to be happy with the weather forecast before this point for the flight to continue - these planes cannot land in just anything!!

Anyway for the spotters amongst you there are 5 planes here; 4 Twin Otters which have skies and can land anywhere flat-ish and one Dash 7 which is a bigger plane and flies bigger loads (and people) between Rothera and the Falklands. The Dash 7 only has wheels so can land on blue ice runways as well as concrete/tarmac etc. A blue ice runway is a runway on exposed ice - the reason why ice would be exposed is that such sites are frequently windy places, windy enough for any lying snow to quickly be blown away. So, this Dash 7 can land on ice in windy conditions. Call me a killjoy but this doesn't sound the safest option to me!!!

a Dash 7a Twin Otter

I get to work everyday that I'm here. My next day off is March 9 2005, conincidentally also the next time I get a lie in!

Dan Suri, 16 January 2005. Click here to go to my home page and click  to email me.