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Week one summary — Soon, science!

Published: at 04:21 PM

According to the calendar, dependent on weather and some other factors, we have approximately 18 days to install our research platform. Yet today we are now a week into the installation and none of us here believes that can be true. We have eight south-facing and four west-facing solar panels installed upright as well as two wind turbines fifteen feet in the air. We have dug a lot of holes, 17 of them to be precise. And today we maxed out at a combined 5000+ watts of renewable energy. Right now I’m eating a long lunch but tonight, if we’re lucky, we’ll be turning on our science instruments for the first time.

A photo of the install team in front of the camp tents, solar panels, and wind turbines, under blue sky

The south facing solar panels are now vertical and we have installed two wind turbines for the renewable power system.

Today is a windy day. 20 to 25 mph winds make wiring electronics a little more difficult, although the temperatures have jumped higher as well. The air temperature is a balmy -15°C which makes the wind feel slightly less harsh, ~5°F for my fellow Americans. When we finally finish all of the physical labor in the next few days, then the real work can begin. Very soon we’ll be combing through our 50+ sensors to make sure they’re each taking good data. We will likely need all the days that we have left to be sure that everything is properly functioning and also to complete our complimentary science goals. There will be more days of hole digging to make snow pits for validating our sub-surface measurements. There will be spatial transects to assess how our measurements represent the surface variability.

Four members of the install team hold and secure a wind turbine.

It takes a team of four to safely rig the guy lines and stabilize a 14 foot wind turbine. Raising the turbine took less than an hour but the holes took half the day.

It feels like there isn’t much more to say about the week of work. The last 5 days have been repetitive. Dig holes, insert cables, lift heavy things, have a fun time in the mess tent, sleep, rinse, repeat. Then again, the installation is beginning to take shape and the major pieces are in place. If the winds die down and no major hurdles crop up then we are well on our way.

An infrared image of the entire camp

An infrared image of the camp showing the spatial variability in surface snow structure and heating.

The camp tents are tucked directly behind the renewable array configuration and battery pit.