29 July 2007

Week 30

Monday, July 23rd

3rd day of journey.

After breakfast we broke camp and started our activities. Maria and Peter went one way, Lars another. Claude and Susanne in the Toyota run parallel to the main train. Steffen with the drilling equipment does the same. Sverrir drives the first tracked vehicle and Simon and J.P. drive the last.

Departure at 12.20PM and arrival at the new camp site at 8.50 PM. We are now 92 km from NGRIP and need to go 75 km to the first drilling site. Everybody came back to camp content with the accomplishments of the day. During the day, all teams have reported in to the main train on a regular schedule via satellite telephone.

Weather today has been really fine, -7 C and sunshine from a blue sky. After 8PM temperatures dropped to -18 C. Almost no wind and some ice fog in the night.

Tuesday, July 24th

4th day of journey.

After breakfast we broke camp and went off in all directions. With a GPS in the pocket and contact by satellite telephone, life is easy. All around is only a flat white surface. The sky is blue with a few clouds in the distance. There is nothing to break the monotony, except when the main train encounters a solitary flag straight ahead in the middle of its
path. It is a flag that Lars has set up the previous day as a survey point. The only things to be seen are a few footprints and a snowmobile track that disappears over the horizon.

Departure at 11.40 AM (We become better and better at striking camp), and arrival at the new camp site at 9 PM. We are now 137 km from NGRIP and 30 km from the first ice core drilling site.

The arrival was deeply fascinating. Everybody has GPS'es with the same set of way points programmed into memory. In this way we can easily communicate with each other about our whereabouts. By telephone, we agreed to meet at way point 27 for camping. As the heavy vehicles came trundling with roaring engines hauling their load of 30 tonnes with a speed of 6-7 km per hour towards way point 27, Lars came on snowmobile from the West
and Maria and Peter came on snowmobile from the North. Everybody came to the same spot at the same time, like flies to an old cheese. At way point 27 there is nothing, the point is just a position in the middle of nowhere. One begins to appreciate, how absolutely essential navigation has been to sailing at all times.

We saw two seagull type birds pass us on our way today. We are not totally alone up here.

Everybody came back satisfied with the days work.

Steffen made spaghetti with meatballs for supper.

Weather today has been really fine, -7 C and sunshine from a blue sky. After 8PM temperatures dropped to -18 C.

Wednesday, July 25th

5th day of journey - first drilling site, 165 km from NGRIP, 200 km from the end at NEEM...

We arrived at the first drilling site, which most probably is the remotest point on the Greenland Ice Sheet. Right here the ice cannot decide which way it wants to flow towards the coast. Along the centre of the ice sheet runs a crest, an ice divide. On the eastern side the ice flows towards the East coast, on the western side towards the West coast. Until now, we have been driving along the ice divide. At this place, the ice divide splits into two, one ice divide runs towards NNE and the other towards NW. The ice here may flow North, West or East. Our route will take us along the North Western ice divide. Our position is: 75.45 degrees North, 44.77 degrees West.

We started this morning at 10.30AM and arrived at the drilling site at 4.15PM. Steffen and Simon had snow mobil'ed ahead, and the drilling equipment was installed at the time of arrival of the main train. Weather is almost too good, for drilling at least. Even though temperatures are below -7 C, the sunshine is so intense that we have to make shadow using a tarp. We decided to drill late. At 1.20AM we had reached 20 m.

Steffen spent the waiting time to setup a shower on the snow. A bucket with an immersion heater, a shower head with a battery pump, a tent and a sleeping mat is all it takes. Several in camp are now clean for the first time in two weeks. Tomorrow the rest will visit the public baths.

Maria and Peter have made a 2.5 m snow pit for studies.

Lars and Susanne made spaghetti with shrimp and vegetables, however Lars let Susanne down as he spent very long time doing his shower and, as Susanne put it, she managed to make a mess of it. Nevertheless we all got our fill.

One of our generators has broken down less than 12 hours after major service at a company in Denmark. This company owes us an explanation. We now use a spare generator.

Everybody is fine and well.

Weather today has been really fine, -7 C and sunshine from a blue sky.
After 8PM temperatures dropped to -23 C.

Thursday, July 26th

First ice core drilling.

Last night Steffen, Simon and Susanne drilled and packed ice cores to 20 m depth. It was late and very cold. Today drilling continued all day. As the Sun moved, so did we move the tarp, always to keep the drilling and packing operation in the shadow. In the evening 60 m depth was reached.

Claude and Susanne used the opportunity to make a radar transect across our route.

Maria and Peter spent the day taking samples in the snow pit they dug yesterday.

Sverrir and Lars spent the time rearranging the cargo on the large sledges, so that for instance the ice core samples do not sit in the sun all day during transport.

Weather today has been really fine, -7 C and sunshine from a blue sky. Temperatures dropped to -23 C after 8PM.

Friday, July 27th

On the road again.

We had planned to leave the drilling site at 10 AM; but it was as if the large sledges were not inclined to play along. One tractor train was stuck at the beginning, so we were not moving before 11.20AM. Afterwards everything went fine. We arrived at the planned camp site at 8.20PM after 50km of driving.

We are now 215km from NGRIP and 150 km from NEEM. We passed the halfway point at 3 o'clock.

Simon and Steffen were left behind at the drill site to drill the remaining 10 m of the planned 70 m of ice core and to measure the temperatures in the bore hole.

At 5PM the tractor train was suddenly overtaken by Steffen and Simon on snowmobile and sledges with drilling equipment and ice core samples...Our first drilling is complete, and we can tick off another of our planned scientific objectives.

Maria and Peter have been running their radar the whole day, and they came buzzing in from the left as we were setting up camp. Peter was so tired, that when he saw his sleeping bag, he went to bed and fell asleep. During the day, they have had problems with their re-chargeable batteries on the radar, so they were tired.

Only ten minutes after Maria and Peter had arrived, Lars came buzzing in from the right from his work on setting up stations for a positioning network.

Everybody was tired, so after a small cup of beer and some readymade pizza, we all went to bed.

Weather continues to be really fine, in the daytime up to -7 C and sunshine from a blue sky.
At night -21 C. We sincerely hope the weather holds.

Saturday, July 28th

Drilling site no. 2

Ater breakfast at 8 we packed. The different teams went each their way, and the main train could depart at 11.15. Weather was nice, sunshine and -11 C; but with a wind at 10 knots from SSW. It cools things down. The main train did not get far. After a couple of kilometres travel one vehicle suddenly stopped in it's tracks. A hydraulic hose was blown. Sverrir did have spares, and a new hose was found in the bottom crate in a pile of crates on the workshop sledge. Repairs took 1.5 hours, and we could continue.

However, the problems continued. Our course is now NW. The wind from the South hit directly into the grate on the side of the vehicles, where the cooling exhaust for the hydraulic system has to go out. J.P.s vehicle continued to overheat so he had to drive at reduced speed.

From the South a cloud front came rolling in, and we hoped that this did not spell a blizzard. At 5 o'clock the whole sky was overcast. The wind did not pick up however, and it turned out to be a mild snow fall.

J.P. could again obtain sufficient cooling, and the main train arrived at drill site no. 2 at 9.15 PM.

When the tractor train arrived, Steffen and Simon were already drilling, and when we went to bed, 25 m of core were already drilled. Drilling is easier now in the overcast weather. We don't have to use a tarp to keep the Sun away.

We are now 265km from NGRIP and 100 km from NEEM.

For supper Lars cooked lasagne.

Weather is overcast with snow. Temperature - 11 C and 10 knot wind from SSW.

Sunday, July 29th

Drilling site no. 2

We drilled all day. At 8.30PM the drill reached 60 m depth. Steffen and Simon will drill the last 10 m tomorrow, measure temperatures in the hole and overtake the main train some time tomorrow.

Sverrir spent the day servicing the tracked vehicles, installing a new fuel gauge in one vehicle and re-charging batteries.

Simon has rigged a system to compensate for the lack of serviceable batteries in Maria and Peters radar system.

Claude and Susanne wanted to make a radar measurement with the Toyota setup; but after only 900 m driving, the belt drive system on the front wheel broke off. The belt drive is now in camp, and will be welded tomorrow.

J.P. cooked curry rice with meatballs for supper.

Weather is overcast with Christmas snow. Temperature - 6 C and the wind died late in the day.

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