15 July 2007

Week 28

Monday, July 9th

The 9 people will once again leave for Greenland, Monday July 9th, depending on the weather situation at NGRIP, especially the temperature. It will be decided on the Mission Commander Meeting in Kangerlussuaq late Monday how to do the details of the put-in.

So far we have some cargo sitting at the Summit station, waiting to be shipped to NGRIP, and then we have people and additional cargo in Kangerlussuaq that need to go to NGRIP as well. This means two more missions into NGRIP.

However this time we know what to expect, we have the shelter (Dome) ready, generators and vehicles should be fairly easy to get going, and most important we have a skiway that was groomed by a C-130 and the Kässbohrers.

We cross our fingers for a smoother Put-in this week

Tuesday, July 10th

At todays meeting with the mission commander a it was decided to try a new put-in tuesday evening.

Wednesday, July 11th

Put-in aborted..

After two hours of flying, during approach and a couple of minutes before landing at NGRIP, Skier 96 encountered a technical problem and had to abort the landing...

Next try, Thursday 03:00L

One engine was shut down on the return to Sonde (Kangerlussuaq)..

Thursday, July 12th

Finally we got going.
The departure was set to Thursday morning at 01.30. This time, the 109th (the Hercules crew), wanted to be sure that everything would go right. At present there are stable high pressure weather conditions over the ice sheet so the nights are nice and cold. This is important, for otherwise the snow gets so soft that the aeroplanes cannot get airborne again. At 2 o'clock we all sat in the plane. The engines started; but after a short while they were switched off again. We thought: "This is not true, will we have to cancel again?" Luckily the mechanics showed up and exchanged a box that had some red lights on. At 02.30 we took off. Half an hour later another plane flew to the American camp at Summit. This plane would then fly to Summit for the Americans, and at Summit it would load the 8 tons of our cargo that was abandoned there in June.

Over the ice sheet there was quite a lot of fog. This caused some concern; but as we approached NGRIP, the weather cleared and we landed at 04.40 in bright sunshine and -19 C. The unloading of the Toyota and the snow mobiles went fine, and at 5 o'clock the plane could depart and return to Kangerlussuaq. In the mean time, the second plane had departed Summit towards NGRIP with our cargo onboard - and then the fog came. At 06.30 we could just stand there and watch as the plane made several low passes over camp without being able to land. The plane returned to Summit where it landed at 07.40. It was suggested to return to Kangerlussuaq with our cargo! At NGRIP the weather ironically had become beautiful again, so we agreed with the pilots to give it another shot. They flew towards NGRIP at 09.55, and lo and behold: The fog came rolling in 10 minutes before they arrived. Luckily they found a hole in the fog and landed at 10.45. Through the fog we could make out the plane as it taxied pass the camp and laid three large "eggs". These "eggs" were our pallets with cargo that were drifted out the rear as the plane taxied by. Then we lost track of the plane in the fog, but we could hear the roar of the engines as it tried to take-off on the skiway. First attempt did not succeed; but the second time they got airborne. So at 11.10 we could all smile at each other and get to work. The NEEM traverse was finally ready to begin. The first thing we did was to go to bed. Everybody had been awake all night until noon. At 16.00 we all got up again and went ahead to unpack the cargo. We now live in the old NGRIP main dome. The generator runs, the kitchen works, heat is spreading through the building and music can be heard playing down below. All in all, a very good day.
The start of this project has been a complicated delivery. A lot of people have been extremely helpful in the effort to make things succeed in spite of adverse weather conditions. We want particularly to express our gratitude to the personnel of the 109th for their "can do" attitude and the staff at Summit Camp who had to work hard loading and unloading and fuelling planes several days and nights on our behalf.

Friday, July 13th

Preparations for the traverse are well on the way.

Everybody was out today. Weather was o.k. Overcast, little snow, winds at 8 knots from South West and -5 C. We got a lot done.

Steffen, Simon and Sverrir built a platform around the casing from the NGRIP borehole to support tower and cable for our borehole instruments. The cable winch was put into position, so tomorrow we can go ahead and start measurements of the shape of the hole, i.e. diameter, inclination and direction of inclination. When these measurements are compared to similar measurements from 2001, 2003 and 2004 we obtain information on how the hole changes shape due to the flow of the ice sheet. The most interesting measurement is the borehole temperature. We read the temperature meter by meter along the entire borehole length (3090m) with 1/100 degree precision. These numbers tell something about past cold and warm periods (The ice sheet still remembers the cold of the last glacial period) and about the geothermal heat flow from the bedrock below the ice.

Claude and Susanne have filled the Toyota with advanced radar equipment, and they are almost ready to test it and mount radar antenna.

Maria and Peter are mounting the German radar system. It is mounted on a Nansen sled and pulled by a snow mobile.

Most of our cargo is now sorted out in nice piles.

Sverrir and J.P. have pulled the heavy German sledges out from under three years of snow.

Lars has unpacked the GPS-equipment for position measurements along the ice ridge.

For dinner, Lars cooked very nice steaks and mashed potatoes.

Saturday, July 14th

Everybody has been busy making equipment and vehicles ready for the traverse, except for Simon and Steffen. They have made measurements down through the deep NGRIP bore hole.

The logging, as these measurements are called, could be done down to a depth of 2950 m, i.e. down to 140 m above bedrock. Down there an ice plug prevents the instruments to go any deeper. All the most important data are secured, so it doesn't matter too much that we couldn't go any deeper.

J.P. and in particular Sverrir have changed the drive belts on one of the tracked vehicles, and Maria and Peter have carried out the first tests of the German radar.

All electronics is now mounted inside the Toyota so Claude and Susanne have begun construction of the sled that will hold the antenna array.

Lars has mounted a GPS reference station, and is now readying the GPS equipment for the traverse.

We celebrated Saturday night as is proper with shirt and tie for the men and nice dresses for the women. Dinner was italian inspired pasta with blueberries and vanilla cream for dessert.

Weather is nice, but warm. -6 C, overcast and not very much wind.

Sunday, July 15th

Preparations of equipment and vehicles continue. Simon and Steffen are packing down the logging equipment.

Sverrir has finished maintenance of the first tracked vehicle and Maria and Peter have finished preparations of their equipment. This means that Maria and Peter can help out in loading the traverse train.

Claude and Susanne have finished construction of the antenna sled for the Kansas radar, now they only need to connect the antennas and the electronics in the Toyota. Testing can begin tomorrow.

Lars has sorted out cargo and he is now in the process of making sure all GPS units of the traverse train have the same route in memory.

J.P. has been driving the caterpillar. One large sled has been emptied for fuel to make room for other cargo. 34 drums of fuel have been put in depot. This fuel will be collected on the next traverse.

Dinner was a Chinese inspired dish. Cooks: Maria and Peter. For desserts, blueberries and ice cream.

Weather is nice, but warm. -4 C, overcast and almost no wind.

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