End of Season Field Reports
2008-2009 Field Season
Raytheon Polar Services Company (RPSC) Activities at WAIS Divide 2008-2009
RPSC Project Manager: Matthew Kippenhan
Field Season Overview:
The fourth field season for WAIS Divide closed on 07 February 2009 as scheduled. The Basler aircraft pulled out the remaining camp staff that day after a very busy and successful season.
It all started on 01 November 2008 when the Basler delivered the first wave of camp staff to begin digging out from the past winter. The Basler has proved to be an excellent opening season aircraft for installing small crews to start prepping equipment and structures prior to arrival of the large construction crews. After several weeks, the entire camp infrastructure was up and running to support numerous science teams and their research efforts. Passengers were continuously arriving and departing camp as aircraft arrived keeping everyone busy with lots of cargo moving in and out. Thirty-five LC-130 Hercules missions supplied camp operations and researchers this season. Exactly 710,786 pounds of cargo, fuel, and passengers were transported to camp from McMurdo Station, a 3.5-hour flight each way. There were of course several typical weather delays throughout the season that would last up to one week without aircraft support, but overall the weather was much better than last season.
The camp staff continued to provide excellent support for the drilling project while several other science groups were working in the immediate area. A new addition to the season was supporting an overland traverse for The Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets (CReSIS). The traverse consisted of two Tucker Sno-Cats with multiple sleds carrying equipment and supplies for the small team of researchers. The traverse returned to camp in January and winterized their equipment schedules to be used next season. Their two Tucker Sno-Cats were very useful with assisting with camp closing and maintaining the 10,000 foot skiway.
Despite only a few storms and heavy equipment issues, camp operations ran smoothly for the entire season. The drill arch continues to bury and shift slightly, but is being monitored to anticipate structural issues inevitable to structures built on snow foundations. Nevertheless, the camp and arch are in good shape to start the fifth field season sometime in late October 2009.