Friday, November 21, 2014
Thursday, November 20, 2014
BELARE, the Belgian Antarctic Research Expedition, exists 10 years. The first expedition, back in 2004, was meant to find a suitable spot to construct the Princess Elisabeth Station. The station was supposed to be build on rock (to make it longer lasting - or at least technically more simpler as it would not be covered in the ever accumulating snow. At that time we visited several potential sites that were selected according to access, rock strength and flatness of the terrain. The Utsteinen rim was far out the best place. But there was something more interesting about that place. Since it is situated at the Western side of the Sor Rondane Mountains, it is also more protected from severe winds (especially katabatic ones) which makes it so nicec to work. I mention this, because going to Princess Elisabeth demands several stopovers. The first one in Cape Town, but no-one is going to complain about that, the second one is Novo airstrip on the Antarctic coast just off South Africa. It is a less protected side and when we arrived yesterday morning at 3AM GMT in fairly good weather conditions, we had to offload the plane in a fierce wind. Most of us are familiar with those uncomfortable conditions, but it is even more strenuous for the newly arrived who are immediately confronted with the harsh conditions of field work.
|Offloading the plane at Novo and separating the cargo for the different feeder flights|
The weather conditions gradually improved, the wind got down by 6AM, the time we went for breakfast and when the plane was offloaded. We had quite a lot of material to unpack and pack and to shift it in two heaps, each heap for a feeder flight that would take us to Princess Elisabeth station. After a nap in the barracks at Novo, the first group and cargo left at 4PM and a group of 6 stayed behind at Novo (Jean-Louis, Denis, Jan, Nico, Raffi and Frank) waiting for the next flight, that, ..., was rescheduled for the following day. A night at Novo for part of the group and hopefully by noon in at PES.
Monday, November 17, 2014
Après un vol sans encombre, nous avons retrouvé Morgane pour un premier briefing avec l’ensemble des équipes scientifiques participant à la saison Belare 2014-2015. Ensuite, repos et boulot pour certains, montée du Lion’s head avec une vue impressionnante sur Cape Town pour d’autres.
Friday, November 14, 2014
|Profiles radars effectués en 2012/13 sur le Roi Baudouin iceshelf et localisation du futur forage de 155 m|
|Ouverture de la station et localisation des différents camps de base|
Wednesday, November 5, 2014
L’Antarctique est bien sûr le terrain de recherche naturel pour les glaciologues. Ce 15
novembre, cinq chercheurs belges s’envolent pour la région du Dronning Maud Land, dans
l’est de l’Antarctique, à environ 120km de la station Princesse Elisabeth.
Coordonnée par Frank Pattyn, co-directeur du Laboratoire de Glaciologie, de l’ULB,
l’expédition compte quatre chercheurs de la Faculté des Sciences de l’ULB – outre Frank
Pattyn, Jean-Louis Tison (co-directeur), Morgane Philippe (doctorante),
Brice Van Liefferinge (doctorant) – et un chercheur de l’Observatoire royal de Belgique,
Objectif de la mission ? Récolter les données qui permettront de reconstruire le bilan de
masse du dernier millénaire dans cette région de l’Antarctique et l’état de la calotte actuelle,
notamment grâce à un carottage.
Les chercheurs vont aussi installer un radar interférométrique et plusieurs GPS afin de
mesurer en continu le mouvement de la glace et de mesurer la fonte de la plateforme
glaciaire. Ces données seront transmises via satellite une fois par jour pendant un an. A
suivre sur le compte Twitter de la plateforme glaciaire, @TweetinIceShelf
L’expédition s’inscrit dans le projet ICECON, soutenu par la Politique scientifique fédérale
Monday, December 16, 2013
Nicolas, Lionel and Reinhard are now back to the station since two days. Knowing that the field season was successful, everybody is more relaxed.
Nicolas took another full day of snow mobile (about 240 km between 20 and 40 km/h) to make sure that the cGPS stations ELIS and ROB2, installed last year on Seal nunatak and 2 weeks ago on Yet Yuten nunatak, respectively, are running smoothly.
|Reinhard very happy with the successful field season|
Meanwhile, Reinhard and Lionel went visiting the surroundings by foot as well as with a special crazy bicycle with large tyres. Despite the harsh climate, birds are living close to the station: the Snow Petrel and the Skua. Those birds breed on Utsteinen nunatak and have to reach the ocean 200 km ago to feed. The bigger Skuas usually chase the smaller Snow Petrels to steal their catches.
Bad weather is expected between the 19th and the 22nd so our flight schedule, or at least the rumours about it, has changed a few times during the last few days. The up-to-date schedule is to take off with a feeder flight on Wednesday 18 to Novolazarevskaya where an Iliouchine should bring us to Cape Town before the storm starts.
The IceCon and Be:Wise researchers are back at PEA after a long trip (~17 hours with Prinoth). The 12 days spent on the coast were used at their maximum and good weather permitted measurements every day.
|GPS measurement on Roi Baudoin ice shelf.|
The entire GPS network installed last year on the Roi Baudouin ice shelf has been reoccupied. Some markers were lost during the winter due to high snow accumulation and strong windy conditions but most markers could be recovered. Additionally, a new network of 14 markers has been installed and occupied twice with a time delay of 6 days. The new network is denser than the previous one and focuses on surface depression in the ice shelf which is linked to sub ice-shelf channels: The idea is to measure the velocity gradient across these channels and to check as to whether or not the channeling introduces weak spots in the ice shelf: Actually, on the second reoccupation, unexpectedly (not seen the week before) open crevasses where visible close to this new network. This seems evidence of higher deformation rates in this region.
|ROB1 GPS station in 2012 and in 2013 on Derwael|
On Derwael ice rise, the team found the ROB1 GPS station as well as the coffee-can marker just a little bit above the snow surface (see pictures). During the winter, the snow accumulation was ~140 cm. The ROB1 station worked during a whole year, without data interruption. The first results show a subsidence of the station of the order of 1m in a year. No significant horizontal motion is detected which confirms that the station is indeed on the top of the ice rise. However, these first results need to be confirmed by more accurate processing when the team will be back in Belgium. In addition to the maintenance of the ROB1 station, the team also reoccupied a strain network installed last year and collected complementary radar data and kinematic GPS profiles.
All in all we completed all major objectives of this field season and – thanks to good weather and excellent logistic support from the station team and field guides Alain and Christophe– it was even possible to fit in additional measurements. Hooray.