6 May 2011

First day at NEEM after the usual cold night

Portrait of Matthias after working in a hole with drifting snow at -30 °C.

First night in a cold camp is always something special. Your body needs to become acclimatized to the new environment, the cold and the altitude. There are very few heat sources; but good sleeping bags have been invented.

Work on the first day was focussed on survival: Shelter and energy for cooking and making water for drinking. Today, work focussed on taking camp infrastructure to the next step: We now have central heating in the main dome, we have drinking water on tap and by midnight we also have water for dishwashing, laundry and shower. Also, people worked on securing access to the trenches. As the trenches are now 1.6 m lower than last year, we need to extend the staircase and elevator shafts before we can erect a weatherport tent on top.

During the day the NASA P3 radar plane passed over camp several times while surveying the ice ridge from NGRIP to NEEM. It was a wonderful sight, as this flight manifests a strong collaboration between NASA and their ice satellite program, the radar people, CRESiS at University of Kansas and the ice core people. With this survey, we get an important input to our interpretation of the NEEM ice core results.

At lunch time, the GRIT traverse departed heading for Summit Station some 680 km to the South East. We thanked the GRIT crew for their help, and we will most likely see them back here in a months time on their trip back to Thule. The traverse left a fuel depot for themselves and gave NEEM camp a much welcome re-supply of fuel.

During evening temperatures dropped from -21 °C to -33 °C at midnight. A very cold evening.

What we have done today:

1. Excavating fuel pallet from winter location and pulling it to the main
2. Connected the heating pipes from main dome to main generator and
established central heating in main dome.
3. Removing snow from around third garage with snow blower and Pistenbully
to gain access to food storage inside sauna.
4. Excavating down to old top of main entrance to drill trench.
Constructing new floor for white Weatherport and extension shafts for staircase and main elevator.
5. Constructing plywood base around shaft for small elevator.
6. Installed main snowmelter. Main snowmelter water supply now running.
7. Cooks snowmelter now on-line providing camp with drinking water.
8. NEEM weather station set up and weather monitoring and recording
9. Saying good-bye to the GRIT traverse.
10. Opened our Iridium satellite system: Camp has now internet access and
telephone connection.

Ad.2: The main dome had central heating after lunch. By late afternoon the dome was frost free.

Ad.6: Due to ice blocked hoses, it took some time to get the main water supply started. It did not make the task any easier that the hoses, that needed thawing, were outside at -32 °C with some wind. Work was completed by midnight.

Weather: Thin clouds to clear all day. Temp. - 21 °C to - 34 °C, 6-16 knots from SSE. Visibility: 3-5 miles, slight blowing snow, haze.

We are now 11 NEEM’ers in camp.

FL, J.P. Steffensen

The GRIT traverse heads out for Summit Station some 680 km away. See you soon and thanks for your help!


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