Our work with the British Antarctic Survey

Monthly Archives: December 2016

2016/12/31 By Ben Rowe

Saturday December 31st – prepping H1 and annual summer BBQ


Today we were getting the plastic membrane under the legs of the H1 module ready for the next move, scheduled for Sunday evening. We winched the module forward to get separation from the E2 module. This took around 26 tonnes (and a round a quarter of the module weight) to break the static friction (stiction)

2016/12/30 By Ben Rowe

Friday December 30th – first Halley module – H2 is moved.


It’s a sunny but very cold windy day. Six more Adelie penguins walk through site at the Southern end. We waited for the STMO power generator necessary for the hydraulics system and the vehicles to do preparation works to separate the H1 module. We successfully unhooked the H1 module stairs so that we could lower it when

2016/12/29 By Ben Rowe

Thursday December 29th – Foxing day


Today is Foxing Day and most are up late morning after the night before. I joined some of the others watching films from 0900 until brunch at 1230. I went skidooing with a couple of the team and afterwards played footy in the sunshine, which given the variable snow surface was far more exhausting than on

2016/12/28 By Ben Rowe

Wednesday December 28th – Fakemas day


Today is our Fakemas day and very much like a normal Sunday day off with late brunch at midday. In the afternoon we organised ourselves into teams and judges for the ‘Halley Winter Olympics’ which included tug of war, sledging, flag pole throwing, with the winning team getting the timber cup made by one of

2016/12/27 By Ben Rowe

Tuesday December 27th – H2 science module lowered to travelling height ahead of its move


We checked the towing frame installation that restrains the module legs and maintains the relative dimensional position, and this then allowed the H2 science module to be lowered to its travelling height in preparation for its move. We offloaded the heavy duty plastic slippers (crane mats) that are around 10m by 2.5m, which we can use

2016/12/26 By Ben Rowe

Monday December 26th – schedule for moving the modules


Still feeling a little unwell, and due to on-going cargo operations we can really only do preparation works that can be undertaken by hand. A team opened the bridge up in readiness for the eventual lift. This involved removal of the end GRP units that the deck panels drop into, the edge GRP beam and

2016/12/25 By Ben Rowe

Sunday 25th December – visit to creek 6 and meeting the captain of the relief vessel


Although it’s Christmas day, due to the relief operation still being underway and the ship being unloaded, the celebrations are postponed until the 28th. This will ensure that everyone can relax and enjoy Christmas together. I was asked as part of the management team to get involved this morning in digging out barrels and loading

2016/12/24 By Ben Rowe

Saturday 24th December – Jan explains brunt ice shelf formation

Image: British Antarctic Survey

Some great feedback from Jan on understanding the reason behind the aerial settlement. He explained what is different about the Brunt Ice Shelf formation.  My understanding was that the ice is created on the land mass and gets pushed out to sea where the hydrostatic pressure of the water supports it, and then it eventually

2016/12/23 By Ben Rowe

Friday 23rd December – ground penetrating radar scan and supporting Jan the BAS glaciologist


Arranged today to go with Jan the BAS glaciologist to do a ground penetrating radar scan on the superDARN aerial array to understand the settlement problems experienced to-date.  I organised with the aerial controller for the array to be switched off for safety which worked out well as the steel team could also do some

2016/12/22 By Ben Rowe

Wednesday 21st and Thursday 22nd December – disconnection of the trelleborg module connections


Today we were joined by new room-mates – so we have a full room of four. The finished draft condition report was passed to the re-location project manager. Thursday 22nd December Today I looked at the bridge Palfinger crane, which is used to load or off-load heavy goods and waste.  I inspected it on site

2016/12/20 By Ben Rowe

Monday 19th and Sunday 20th December – waist height in snow


Still feeling unwell, and the weather is bitterly cold this morning. Big snow tails complicate the walk to the temporary camp with snow drifts up to waist height. This morning I mucked in helping preparation works for the move, which meant emptying and taping closed cupboards. After this I went into the sub floor and started

2016/12/18 By Ben Rowe

Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th December – next tasks


I spent the morning writing an initial pass of the discussion and recommendations sections of the module condition report.  I also planned the next list of tasks, which include; • an assessment of the north end fire escape damage • measuring leg extension to gauge height that the leg’s pins could be engaged • checking leg hydraulic system

2016/12/16 By Ben Rowe

Friday 16th December – a hard walk to the caslab to adjust the access stairs


After spending the morning working on the report I joined the steelwork team to adjust the access stairs to the Caslab which stands for Clean Air Sector Laboratory. This building has some very sensitive equipment for monitoring air constituents which is why it is located approximately 1.5 kilometres away from the rest of Halley.  You have

2016/12/15 By Ben Rowe

Thursday 15th December – more bridge work today


It’s another snowy and windy day.  Lots of snow tails complicating movement between modules and other buildings. We tested straps for the bridge lift and checked these could be fed through the gap between the steelwork and the cladding. We also checked the steelwork to check the bridge will fit onto the fabricated temporary steelwork

2016/12/14 By Ben Rowe

Wednesday 14th December – preparing Halley’s bridge for the move


Today I worked with a chippy and rigger to lift the timber panels on the bridge and tightening the cladding fixings and record the condition. I created a document on the bridge loads so we could plan the lifting operations.  I also looked at the bridge plan bracing and tried to anticipate whether this would

2016/12/13 By Ben Rowe

Tuesday 13th December – more preparation while the poor weather continues


The awful weather continues today, so spent the day writing up the condition report.  The move of the first module will not happen today for sure.  I spent some time looking at stability scenarios if the hydraulics in a leg failed and the rapid shortening created a loss of support. The risk of a sudden

2016/12/12 By Ben Rowe

Monday 12th December – Horizontal snow

Image: British Antarctic Survey

Today I feel like I have arrived in Antarctica.  Snow is being blown horizontally on the back of the 30mph wind.  Over-night this has changed the fairly flat site around the temporary camp and associated buildings to ridges and troughs everywhere.  When there is a deposit of fresh snow the contrast can become so uniform

2016/12/11 By Ben Rowe

Sunday 11th December – 14,255km from London


This sign post outside the front of the modules is a stark reminder of just how far I am from the UK, 14255 kilometres to London. Each day we get in the habit of checking the weather.  Primarily to see the impact of wind chill and sunshine to get a feel of the temperature, influencing

2016/12/10 By Ben Rowe

Saturday 10th December – Starting the Halley modules separation


This morning got the final legs connections checked with no issues. In the afternoon the team including technical engineering staff and steelworkers went through the process of lifting each leg to break the contact with the ice and installing the polythene sheets and drilling fluid to improve the break out friction and reduce the amount

2016/12/09 By Ben Rowe

Friday 9th December – Checking Halley’s critical leg connections


Started this morning with testing the H2 module leg hydraulics. There was some previous evidence of a minor leak however the source could not be found – so prepared to deal with it if it becomes evident during the relocation. With a couple of the BAS team we checked the tightness and completeness of all

2016/12/08 By Ben Rowe

Thursday 8th December – A bitterly cold day checking the lifting frame


Today I started off on this bitterly cold morning with inspection of the lifting frame which was designed to provide temporary support to one end of a module during leg lifting operations. As I inspected the lifting frame I took off my gloves to take a photo record and within a couple of minutes my

2016/12/07 By Ben Rowe

Wednesday 7th December – Inspection of towing equipment


Today I found some working space with good in‐direct and overhead light in the A module TV room to start capturing my survey work. I ran through the various structural related report and method statements, marking up questions and key aspects and took the opportunity to have a detailed look at areas that have had

2016/12/06 By Ben Rowe

Tuesday 6th December – Sunburn and static shock


Although I have been regularly applying sun‐cream, the reflection of the sun off the ice can quickly cause some sun‐burn.  The air here is dry and although I have not, a lot of people have developed a persistent dry cough. It is also easy to become dehydrated from the dryness and sun – not what

2016/12/05 By Ben Rowe

Monday 5th December – Update with BAS team on the key engineering aspects of the move


Starting to get into a routine with both room‐mates and overall summer camp. At 0800 we had our Field Module 1 training session which included use of a Tilley lamp and stove, use of iridium phone and communication protocol, tent and food provisions.  Kind of stuff I last did best part of forty years ago

2016/12/03 By Ben Rowe

Saturday 3rd December – First day in Halley

Ben in front of Halley. Image British Antarctic Survey

The working day is organised around the meals timings. The working day starts at 0800, there’s a mid‐ morning break for 30 minutes, an hour for lunch at 1300, mid‐afternoon 30 minute break and then dinner at 1900. I guess if the weather was really cold and the work very manual then these mid‐morning and

2016/12/02 By Ben Rowe

Friday 2nd December – Refuelling in Neumayer and departing for Halley


The flight was likely to stop at Neumayer German research station to refuel, before completing the remainder of the 700miles trip to Halley. On the morning of the flight we were ready at 0730 with our bags, and were at the runway base by 0800. Having off loaded our bags onto the icy ground we

2016/12/01 By Ben Rowe

Thursday 1st December – Building an igloo

Igloo DSCN0658compressed

This morning a few of us walked from Novo across the rocky landscape to the nearby Indian Station.  Here we met up with a couple of  our group who had arrived a little earlier and had met some of the Indian group who were on the plane with us a couple of days previously from