There are usually multiple research projects going on out of each station, as diverse as mapping moss, collecting penguin poo and measuring the thickness of ice shelves. I was lucky enough to help out with the TiDE project. Ben, Madi and Paul have been working on the Totten Glacier for a few years now with the aim of measuring how quickly the ice flows, how much ice is melting and how the surface elevation changes due to the tides. They measure movement using high precision GPS, melting at the base of the ice with a phase-sensitive radar known as an ApRES and combine the datasets to look at how much melting is happening and what the response of the glacier is. This summer they were focusing on active seismic measurements using both a hammer and plate and small explosives to create waves that are measured at the surface with geophones. The data they record tells them not only how thick the ice is but how thick the water column between the ice and the sea floor is. The measurements themselves take a very short time but setting out the cables and geophones to record the signals takes a little longer. We walked kilometres through quite deep fluffy snow, usually a pretty tiring and boring task but after all the weather delays we were all stoked to be out on the ice getting some fresh air and exercise!
Walk the line, sundog and a skewer to complete the surreal setting.
All set up and ready, 30 seconds later we start to take it all back in again!