Fieldwork in a blizzard

Unfortunately it was not possible for the caleta sailing team (aka Christian, Nina, Anne and Dolores),or Ilona and Jule to go out to work today. The wind was too strong. Steve, Tamara and I, however, braved it back to GPS Lake 15 to continue some lake coring. Despite a few issues with gravel and bedrock (not a friend to our coring equipment) we managed to collect some really nice cores. And despite the wind the weather was actually okay until late afternoon when the horizontal blizzard started to set in. Bang on time as forecast. Very quickly the caleta and tres hermanos (either side of us) became obscured in a blustering cloud of snow, even the Castillo ship which had earlier manoevered gracefully into the caleta was now barely visible. Steve had said earlier that if anyone on board was watching us dig holes in our lake in the wind they must think we were mad. Luckily now they would not be able to see us to think such thoughts as we battled on against the wind and added snow.

Steve and Tamara have both worked in Antarctica before, but this is my first time and, before coming here, I never really thought I would be coring a frozen lake in Antarctica amidst a horizontal blizzard, battling the elements all in the name of science. But today it didn’t really seem that unusual – it isn’t something I would particularly consider doing back in the UK but out here it becomes part of a fairly normal day’s work. When we returned to the Dallmann and sorted out our outdoor freezer store to accommodate our fresh cores we even ended up standing around discussing things for a while before I suggested we might want to move inside, away from the snow, to finish our discussions over a nice cup of tea. It was almost as if we had forgotten it was snowing. Now we are inside a short while later we cannot even see out of the windows on the caleta side. We were wise to come back when we did!

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