Friday, 31 January 2014

Friday 31st January 2014

Today was quite a busy day and the first thing I got stuck into this morning was the monthly report and once I had this knocked out I then had to do the monthly fire chief report. Somewhere in between I got ARPANSA done and in the afternoon I repaired my manual antenna tuner. I replaced the two germanium diodes that got fried by static electricity during the dry blizzard. I also cleaned up the roller inductor as best I could then took it down to the transmitter building where I tested it and calibrated the forward and reverse power meters. Tonight was fish & chip night and later we watched a Johnny Depp movie called Blow.

Mawson January 2014 Climate Summary.

During January we recorded the highest max temperature for the year at +8.3°C
We also had the most hours of sunshine for the year with a total of 286.4 hours

Temperatures - at Mawson during January we expect: A mean maximum temperature of 02.5°C

The average maximum for the month was +3.6°C. The lowest maximum was –1.8°C and the highest +8.3°C.

A mean minimum temperature of -02.7°C. The average minimum for the month was -02.1°C. The lowest minimum was -07.3°C and the highest 02.0°C.

The coldest temperature for any January day on record at Mawson was -10.0°C on 31/01/1994.


The average daily wind run (the measure of how many kilometres of wind pass the station in 24 hours) was 687 km per day for the month. This is well below the long term average of 778 km per day.

The maximum wind gust for January was 120 km/h from the SE recorded on the 4th. The record gust for January is 198 km/h recorded on 11/01/1998.

No blizzards occurred during the month, with 0.6 events expected

There were 17 gales compared to 8.9 expected for the month, 25 days of strong wind, with 24.9 the average. 2 days of snowfall were observed, which is way less than the expected average of 6.9 days. We had no days of Blowing Snow (Vis <1km).

Note: A Strong Wind day has wind in excess of 41 km/h and a Gale is wind in excess of 63 km/h.


We recorded a total of 286.4 hours of sunshine for the month.
The long term average is 257.3 hours.


January 2013 January 2014 Long Term Mean
Temp max highest 04.0 °C  08.3 °C 10.6 °C 9/01/74
Temp max average 02.1 °C 03.6 °C 02.5 °C 
Temp Min lowest   -08.1 °C -07.3 °C  -10.0 °C 31/1/94
Temp Min average -02.5 °C -02.1 °C -02.7 °C
Wind run 36,606 km 21,284 km 24118 km
Max wind speed in kph 150 kph  120 kph  198 kph 11/1/98 
Hours of sunshine 136.4 Hrs 286.4 Hrs 257.3 Hrs 
Days of snow 7 2 6.9
Days of Strong Wind 30 25 24.9
Days of Gale 22 17 8.9
Days of Blowing Snow 7 0 NA
Days of Blizzard   3 0 0.3

January was milder, had way less wind and more hours of sunshine compared to the long term mean.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Tuesday 30th January 2014

This morning the temperature was about minus 12 and the wind was blowing about 15-20 knots making conditions very cold while packing the tents away and eating breakfast. We spent approximately four hours establishing the Accumulation/Ablation & Ice Strain Stake Networks at the start, end and mid points of the 4 km landing site.

A theodolite and tape measure were used to accurately set out each grid pattern then holes were drilled into the blue ice and bamboo canes inserted to a depth of approximately 1.5-1.8 metres. Photographs and GPS readings were taken at each of the sites and all canes were measured from the top to the top of the snow and also to the blue ice underneath.

The overall rise & fall of the landing site both length and width was measured using a theodolite and dumpy level. We departed the Twintop area at 1315 and had ideal conditions to travel back to Mawson. Our original plan was to spend a night at Mount Hordern and climb one of its peaks but the majority of the team wanted to head back to station. Along the way we replaced several canes on the Fang/Hordern cane line arriving back on station at 1915 after a tiring six hour trip.

Mount Hordern

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Wednesday 29th January 2014

Today I went on a field trip to Mount Twintops with John, Terry, Ashley, Peter.L and Peter.W to assess the blue ice area west of Mount Twintop for suitable landing sites for wheeled aircraft. Once there, after providing a safe travel route from Mawson to Mount Twintop, we were to locate a 4 km landing site and establish an Accumulation/Ablation & Ice Strain Stake Network.

We departed Mawson at 0800 sharp and traveled via GWAMM to the plateau. It was very overcast and remained that way all day. The summer melt has re-frozen and conditions were good through to way-point F21. Close to F21 we veered off the cane line to view a freeze dried seal lying out in the open. It was perfectly preserved and still had all its whiskers. Whether it got lost in a blizzard and crawled the forty kilometers here from the coast or it was dog food that either fell off the back of a trailer/sled or a food cache for the dogs is a mystery as there were no bullet holes obvious but there was damage to its front flippers.

From way-point F21 to Hordern Gap was slow going on sastrugi. We arrived at Hordern Gap at 1115. From Hordern Gap to way-point TWT01 was mainly on blue ice. There were numerous drums two to three hundred metres to the north of the route. From way-point TWT01 onwards the route was mainly on snow/stastrugi and average speed was approximately 10km/hr and surface definition was fair/poor.

Some large crevasses were sighted west of the route, between way-points TWT05 and TWT06. Old canes and the occasional drum were also seen. From way-point TWT07 onwards the route was predominantly on blue ice. We arrived at way-point TWT12 (blue ice) at 1430 in the afternoon tired after the slow bumpy noisy ride. Travel time from Mawson was 6hrs 30.

We then spent time looking around the area adjacent to way-point TWT12, looking for the flattest 4km strip of blue ice we could find which was not all that easy from the ground, in less than ideal visibility, with fair/poor surface definition. Having found what we considered to be the best site we marked the end and mid-points with canes.

Camp was made on snow on the north western end of Mount Twintop, just above a small melt lake. After the evening meal we all went for a walk. While all the others climbed the peaks of Mount Twintop, I went for a walk up the western wind scour where I found a pair of very old crampons half buried in the blue ice. The wind scour didn’t go too far and when I came back out I followed the rest of the guys in climbing the peaks of Mount Twintop. Along the way we discovered an old food cache of butter and biscuits hidden under a large boulder near an old camp site. It was an easy climb and we all met at the highest summit at 1480 meters where a two drum trig point had collapsed. The drums had the names of many old expeditioners scratched into them and I immediately recognised the name of my old friend I used to work with in Papua New Guinea back in the eighties who was here in 1976. If you are reading this John Tibits please send me an email as I would love to catch up. At the base of the drum was a jar with a piece of paper with names of dozens of people who had climbed this peak dating back to the early seventies.

It was cold out here at this altitude and my face and hair was all covered in ice. Mount Twintop is basically the last land form on the edge of the vast polar plateau that stretches all the way to the South Pole. By the time we got back to our camp I was buggered. There was a really nice sunset taking place and after taking a few photos I crawled into my tent and snuggled up into my fart sack for the night. During the night I had to sleep with both my pee bottle and water bottle to stop them freezing solid and I was worried about getting then mixed up in the dark. I had needn’t bothered as when I got up at three am for a pee it was still daylight outside. This was quite a complex operation inside the tiny tent and my head kept hitting the roof of the tent dislodging all the hoarfrost and raining down onto me and my bedding. I slept well although a little cold as I decided only to use one sleeping bag and it got down to minus12c with a strong 20 knot wind blowing all night causing the tent to flap around. I woke regularly and there was ice all over my beard and the hoarfrost kept raining down all night every time I would move.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Tuesday 28th January 2014

Today I had quite a few emails to go through and action after the long weekend. I down loaded the data logger for the bleed air in the ARPANSA building that has been collecting data for the past week and sent the graph off to the engineers at head office. After this I reprogrammed the Green Hag GPS and in the afternoon I did this week’s magnetic observations. After work I worked on the lathe and milling machine again to finish machining the two parts for my ice axe. Tonight I spent quite a bit of time working on my blog till late.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Monday 27th January 2014

Today was the Australia day public holiday so I enjoyed a bit of a sleep in before getting up and doing all my washing.

After lunch I had an open day down at the magnetic quiet zone. This area is normally out of bounds to everyone except me so it was a chance for everyone to go down and have a look around the area which contains the Variometer building, the absolute magnetic hut (circa 1950’s) and the automatic tide gauge all of which I am responsible for. It’s a nice area right on the fringe of the station fronting East bay. The area had a nice river and waterfall for the past few weeks and it was so nice to hear flowing water but it’s almost frozen over now and down to a trickle. I found a few bullet casing while I was wandering around there.

After this I went for a long walk around station and then went down to the trade’s workshop to use the lath to make a couple of parts for my ice axe project. After dinner we watched two episodes of Home Land series three.

Trades workshop

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Sunday 26th January 2014

Today I had a bit of a sleep in and took things easy all morning. I cooked a Fray Bentos pie for lunch seeing it was Australia day and it was bloody great, what an amazing invention. After lunch I got ready for the field trip leaving tomorrow and once I was sorted I got some gear organised and went fishing out on West arm.

I thought I could find access to some deep water there but it wasn't too good. There is deep water as the cliffs fall straight down in places but the sea was frozen over so I had to find a huge rock to smash through the sea ice to get my line in. I couldn't get out from the cliffs and I didn't get a bite the whole time, but it was relaxing and I enjoyed the solitude and the warm sun. There was no wildlife and the silence was deafening.

That was my Australia day. Late in the afternoon I went down to the radio shack and had a few contacts including a couple from Queensland who I had a long chat with who were celebrating Australia day. Dinner was a lamb on the spit which was a bit raw and after this we watched coast and then a crazy Australian movie that wasn't too bad.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Saturday 25th January 2014

Richard was out climbing today so I had to do the papers and then do ARPANSA followed by my washing and then Saturday duties. I spent a few hours on the radio as conditions were pretty good even with one hundred watts I worked many stations. I mostly worked Australian stations but also Cook Islands, Papua New Guinea and Japan with a few EU stations mixed in.

Later I had a few coldies with Luc before having a roast dinner cooked by Paul. Luc and I watched a few documentaries and shot the shit till late.

Friday, 24 January 2014


Houston; we have a problem.........

The sea is still frozen out to a distance of 30 miles and then there is heavy pack ice out another 20 miles preventing the ship reaching us. It was to come and get us first and then go onto Davis and then Casey before returning to Hobart, but now they are going to go to Casey and Davis first and hope the extra couple of weeks will break out our sea ice and they can pick us up last.

If the sea ice doesn't break out, they will leave us here and return to Hobart to get helicopters to try and fly us out. So, with plan one the ship won't get here till the 19th Feb and if they have to go back and get helicopters they won't get here until 1st April.

We are a couple of weeks past the summer solstice so things are cooling down and the sea is refreezing over night, so it is my guess that unless we get a major blizzard that can blow out all the sea ice we are stuck here and will have to be extracted by helicopters.

We have emergency rations for another year but maybe not enough fuel. I'm sure they will get us out with helicopters no problem, but it's any ones guess when I will get home now?

Friday 24th January 2014

This morning I was going to catch up on emails but when I got to my office the deiso’s wanted a new radio for in their work shop, so I headed over to the green store to find a suitable power supply and antenna and as it will be located near people I decided to reduce the output power to one watt. I scratched around for a programming cable but for the life of me I couldn't get it to run on the laptop. I knew it worked on my PC as I used it about nine months ago, but sure enough it wouldn't work on my PC either. I got the shits and looked up the circuit for the microphone pin out on the radio to find TX, RX and GND and quickly made up a new serial cable. And sure enough this one didn't work either.

So next I tried looking up information on the software and found nothing of value. Finally I located a service manual for the radio on line and it listed the programming cable as a two section cable with a DB25 to DB9 adapter and digging around in the bottom cable draw full of shit I found the two cables in question and added a DB25 to DB9 adapter and gave it a try and sure enough it worked. I was still puzzled as to why my cable wouldn't work so I tried to buzz out the cable to see what the difference was and there was no connectivity. This had me totally buggered now so I opened up the DB25 shell and to my surprise discovered a TTL converter on a small PCB. Mystery solved, so I screwed the cables together and wrote all over them so this wouldn't happen again. 

I took the cable back to the Laptop and it wouldn't work so I thought I must have disturbed something so I pulled it all apart again finding a small solder bridge that could have been causing the problem and then reassembled the whole thing again only to discover it still was not working. Bugger me, so I took it all back again to my desk PC and it was working fine, so it turns out the laptop has a faulty serial port......arrrrrr !! 

I reprogrammed the radio in about five minutes and by now half the day was gone. Next task was to reprogram the GPS in the three Hagglunds. I messed around with OziExplorer for ages and for some weird reason it would only display one route at a time. This was not a good day. Eventually I had to use Cookies PC which worked fine and then I had to mess about changing both the Garmin rte and wpt files into a Lawrance usr file. Man, sometimes this stuff can really do your head in but eventually we got there and I took a sim card down to the dieso’s work shop and reprogrammed the three Hag GPS’s in about two minutes each. I also got a few things ready for our trip out to Twintops on Monday before knocking off for Friday’s pizza night.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Thursday 23rd January 2014

This morning I finished off doing my RTA unaccompanied personal effects. All fourteen boxes had to be weighed, measured and tie wrapped and then more consignment stickers affixed and finally they all had to be carted outside and placed into a sea container. What a job. Even though I will now be living out of a backpack for the next two months I was glad to see the last of all that shit.

After catching up on all my emails and stuff, I headed out to the magnetic absolute hut to do this week’s magnetic observations. I was yawning the whole time and after I got back to the office and checked the results before sending them off to Geoscience Australia in Canberra, I had to go up to the red shed for a nanny nap before dinner.

The Snow Petrel is the only member of the genus Pagodroma. It is one of only three birds that breed exclusively in Antarctica and has been seen at the South Pole. It has the most southerly breeding distribution of any bird. These birds look so fragile but are masters of the environment down here and they make a tasty morsel for the Skua's.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Wednesday 22nd January 2014

Today was a big day. I had to have all my unaccompanied personal effects packed, logged, listed, itemised, weighed, labelled and in the green store by days end. I thought I was in pretty good shape as I had been slowly packing up things for quite some time now, but I didn’t allow for being slushy yesterday when I was going to pack up all my radio gear.

First I moved all my gear from the red shed down to the green store and then weighed and labelled it all. Then I got all my gear from the operations building and did the same for it. Once finished I headed off down to the transmitter building to start packing up my gear there. First I lowered and dismantled my 6m antenna which turned out to be difficult job as there was a cool breeze and my hands kept going off touching the cold metal and I had to go inside and put them on the heater to thaw them out several times which was excruciating painful. 

Once done I rolled up the cable and then went inside to pack up my amplifier. First I had to remove the massive 20 kg transformer from inside the amplifier. This was quite strait forward but took time just the same. Once separated they were both packed and labelled. Next job was to remove my HF tuner, 6m amplifier and sequencer and then remove all the redundant cabling leaving just my Flex 5000, laptop and power supply. All this gear was boxed up and labelled and then I had to carry it all outside and put it into the back of the waiting ute. I took all this gear up to the green store and weighed it all and then added more stickers to everything and wrote numbers all over everything. 

Well that was the hard bit out of the way and by now my back was killing me. I went back to the office to create a new consignment on the computer which is quite a tricky procedure. Every time I got to a certain question the computer would freeze. I did this about three times wasting about an hour and a half before coming to the conclusion Google Chrome is not compatible with the econ application and so I switched to Internet Explorer and then it worked, but by now it was past five and John our store man / FTO had gone home, so the rest would have to wait for tomorrow. 

While all this was going on a rare phenomenon for Mawson took place. It snowed most of the day with large fluffy flakes falling straight down and not sideways. It was beautiful and I wish I had more time to watch and enjoy it. It turned everything white including the sea ice and things looked clean and beautiful once again.

And now for something completely different, so far we have bottled about 2500 bottles of homebrew and drank around 1500 bottles.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Tuesday 21st January 2014

Today I was slushy hopefully for the last time. I worked flat out all day and during my break I spent my time packing for tomorrows RTA deadline. I also managed to put on a load of washing and after dinner we had a meeting for a planned three day field trip 80kms out to Mt Twintops to do some survey work for a possible future snow runway.

On a sad note, out of the 4000 nesting Adélie penguins on Bechervaise Island this year, only 150 chicks have survived to date out of the 8000 eggs laid due to the heat and the sea ice remaining this late in the year as far out as 100 miles. This is a very sad event but it occurs on average around every twelve years. The skua's must be having a field day out there.

Four of the guys took the floating rescue craft out to Bechervaise Island to see if it would be possible to rescue the two biologists over there if we had to. They had fun falling through the ice on many occasions but proved it could be done easily if need be. They also took them out some fresh food and treats and the girls were amazed and thrilled to see the guy's turn up and very appreciative.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Monday 20th January 2014

I woke up today very sore and tired. The spare ARPANSA detector we had been using crashed in the heat again so we had to configure the main unit to go on line. I spent most of the morning fixing the faulty switch mode power supply in the Blizz FM transmitter. As I expected there were faulty electrolytic capacitors among the tuned circuits preventing the power supply from oscillating and when I replaced the forth one it came back to life.

I heard Geoff on the radio say that a large chunk of ice just broke off west bay ice cliffs crashing into the water through the sea ice making a huge noise and a large splash with huge waves. I was on my way up that way to install the Blizz FM transmitter, so I thought I'd check it out while I'm up there. On the way I dropped into the ANARESAT building to reset the antenna tracking control unit where I bumped into Geoff on his way up to check out the ice cliffs. I installed the Blizz FM transmitter and then went over to where Geoff was. 

The ice had smashed through the sea ice and there was debris everywhere. I took a few photos to compare the before and after and then I went down to the deiso’s workshop to get a large spanner to take back up the hill to tighten the bolts on the transceivers mast base plate. I had to make this trip several times before I got the right size spanner and by the time had I got it done I was knackered, so I headed down to the transmitter building to see what conditions were like. Propagation was fantastic and I worked a lot of Australian stations before I took a break for dinner. Later I came back and worked a hundred or so stations from all around the world including America, Europe, PNG and my mate in Green Land once again.

When we first arrived
After the first ice fall in May
After the first ice fall in May
After the second ice fall today

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Sunday 19th January 2014

Today John, Richard, Peter.C and I left station at 10:30 to attempt to climb Fang Peak in the David Range. We arrived at Fang hut at 12:00 after a bumpy ride through the sastrugi. Almost all the melt streams were frozen and all the slushy areas and lakes from last weekend were totally frozen. This place can change so fast this time of year. We did manage to find one stream still flowing to fill our water bottles with the purest water on earth.

Strait away we got stuck into the climb starting out with a large scree slope which was quite good walking as it was locked in and didn't slide like it usually does when you walk in scree. Once high up on the saddle the climb started in earnest along the rugged ridge line. Several places were very exposed where we were jumping from boulder to boulder with very steep cliffs either side. Eventually the climb got so steep and exposed we had to break out the ropes which we pretty well had to use for the rest of the climb. I came across a snow pigeons nest in the rocks and they let me know I wasn't welcome.

John and Richard were great setting up all the anchors and giving me a lot of encouragement as I tackled the near vertical rock face. It was definitely the hardest and scariest climb I have tackled to date. Even though I had the security of being tethered, hanging by the tips of your fingers a thousand feet up with a vertical drop makes you really focus on the task at hand rather than looking around admiring the view. I was still feeling a little off colour with the absis on my tooth and the medication I was taking and I really found it a strenuous climb straining and reaching for tiny hand and foot holds. Mountain climbing is psychological just as much as it is physical. It’s almost constant terror and massive adrenalin surges where you really challenge yourself.

 Finally we made it to Hillary’s step, a nice large ledge only four meters from the summit where I could rest and relax while John free climbed to install the last pitons to belay us up. It was lovely relaxing in the warm sun taking in the view out of the wind. Finally the moment came I was dreading, climbing the final four meters to the summit up a small crack that was an overhang with a thousand foot vertical drop below. There were virtually no hand or foot holds and I was shitting myself. This part of the climb was in the shade and exposed to the wind and my hands were freezing and on the verge of going off so I had to move quickly or I would be in deep shit. With sore bleeding fingers I managed to lift my feet as high as I could and reach out as far as I could to find the tiniest cracks in the rock to heave myself to the summit and finally I was there. 

The view of course was incredible and after the obligatory hi fives and photos we sat back to take it all in while John filled out the visitors book, tiny bits of paper inside a very old curry powder tin hidden in the rocks. I was dreading the climb back down and I was hoping we were going to abseil back down and get it over and done with as quick as we could, but John announced it would be best to climb back down. Richard announced that there appeared to be an easier way down on the northern side and he scurried off like a gecko over the side and out of view. He yelled out from Hillary’s step that it was okay that way and John said to me off you go. 

I was shitting myself not knowing what to expect as I lowered myself over the edge trying to find footholds without being able to see my feet. I was out of sight of the others very exposed on a sheer rock face with the Hag a thousand feet directly below trying to stay calm and focus on the task. Slowly I made my way back down until I reached a small ledge where I could inch my way around back to where Richard was. Time to start breathing again while I waited for Peter and John to get down. 

Once John had anchored himself, Richard went over the side for the first of several long belays. Next to go was me. To my delight I found it much easier going back down. It was still extremely hard work and scary but I felt more confident as I knew the path and with each step I knew I was getting closer to the saddle. By the time I got to our packs at the end of the last belay line I was knackered and my hips and knees were quite sore. From here it was a leap frog from boulder to boulder with only five hundred foot vertical cliffs to mess with your brain on each side and eventually we made it along the spine to the saddle where we started the steep descent back down the scree slope. 

Finally we reached the Hag and I was exhausted and mentally drained. We didn't hang about too long before I started the long drive back to the station. The trip back was rather uneventful, the melt streams and lakes were still frozen making easy going over the rough terrain.  At one point I stopped to take a photo of the track. It looked like a muddy 4WD track through the Kimberley, but frozen and clear. I stepped out of the Hag and the surface was like glass and I went A over T and landed quite heavy laughing my eyeballs out. (ROFL) I think I broke every bone in my body and got concussion when my head hit the ice, but looking back up at the Hag at the three heads poking out to see if I was alright only made me laugh harder. 

We stopped near a large lake east of Gwamm that had me puzzled last Sunday when I drove past with Luc. Last Sunday the large lake had many icebergs that appeared to be floating in it. There were too many slots in the area to take a closer look so we just continued on, puzzled. This time the lake had drained and there were huge ice blocks scattered everywhere. After a good long reconnaissance through the telephoto lens I speculated there must be a submerged rocky knoll under the ice under extreme pressure and the lake water might have flowed down through cracks and lubricated the underside of the ice causing a slip and a massive release of pressure as what happens in an earthquake, blasting out huge blocks of ice in all directions. There was a huge amount of devastation and it must have been awesome to see it happen. I have always treated the ice cliffs with caution, but this just goes to show the immense forces at play in the ice sheet can have destructive forces where you may least expect it. 

Back at the station around seven o'clock, after we had unloaded and refuelled the Hag, I did the ARPANSA filter change, got myself some tucker and then wound down with a few beers with Geoff.

Snow pigeons nest

On the summit at last

Mt Parsons
Mt Elliot
Southern Masson
Fang hut and the Hag 1000' below
Welch Island and no water for 100 miles

Coming back down the scree slope

Filling the water bottles with the cleanest water on earth

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Saturday 18th January 2014

At around 7am the power went off for about forty minutes, then we got a fire alarm and I couldn't see to get dressed, it was a false alarm but by now my sleep-in was ruined. After breakfast I reset the antenna tracking system on the ANARESAT antenna and then went up to the transceivers hut to investigate why our local radio station Blizz FM was not working after the power outage and I discovered its power supply was no longer working, so I removed the transmitter to take back to the workshop for further investigation.

I spent a few hours on the radio chatting to people back in Australia and after dinner Luc and I talked shit out on East arm while watching the sunset and moonrise at the same time, it was a really spectacular view. When the sun went down a breeze came up and instantly I started to become hypothermic during the long walk back to the red shed wearing only a T-shirt.

View of Mt Henderson from East arm

Friday, 17 January 2014

Friday 17th January 2014

This morning the electricians complained of long latency with their electronic control and monitoring of the MPH. I fixed problem by rebooting the switch in the MPH. For some reason the VoIP phone was causing runt packets. I did ARPANSA and put on a load of washing and then later hung it out. After lunch I performed this week’s magnetic observations and there was very little magnetic activity and I got some really accurate results. Following this I tried to setup a new web camera for the Operations building but had problems with the software and eventually ran out of time.

The sun has been above the horizon constantly since 30th November of last year but on the night of 13th and 14th January we witnessed the sun dipped below the horizon again. The night started at 12:49 and the sun came back up at 01:06. So, we had a night lasting 17 minutes.

From now on the nights will get longer and longer and in a week's time the nights will get longer by an average of 12 minutes per day. By the end of January the night time will last for nearly five hours!

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Thursday 16th January 2014

Well today wasn't very exciting. After doing ARPANSA I spent the whole day cleaning up and removing old files from the file server and several PC’s I have been using throughout the year. I also managed to find my MixW log file that is a hidden compatibility file whatever that is? At least now I know it is getting backed up and is on my laptop ready to take home with me. After work I enjoyed a couple of coldies out on east arm away from the MPH in total silence watching the ice move back and forth from the gentle swell rolling through.

On these still clam days it’s possible to watch the tide rise and fall before your eyes, something that I have never witnessed before. The only thing to break the silence is the odd penguin calling out and the sea ice crushing together now and then. The nights are getting colder now and the open water is covered in grease ice every morning so if the sea ice doesn't blow out soon the sea is going to refreeze and lock all the ice back in. Normally the sea ice would have broken out by this time of year.

Grease ice forming over night every day now

Power generation at Mawson station

At Mawson, the main power house (MPH) is powered by 4 Caterpillar 3306, turbo-charged generator sets, each of 125 kW capacity. All are fitted with Stamford alternators. Depending on the energy requirements, up to 3 of these generators run at any one time.

The emergency power house (EPH) at Mawson is equipped with 1 Caterpillar V12 turbo-charged generator with a capacity of 384 kW.

The Mawson power supply is also boosted with two wind powered turbines which can supply up to 95% of the station's power requirements in times of high winds. These two turbines reduce the amount of diesel fuel required by over two thirds, from 600,000 litres a year to less than 200,000 litres. The wind turbines also save 1,500 tonnes of CO2 a year from being released into the environment.

These wind powered turbines are made in Germany by Enercon and some of their specifications are;

Rated power: 330 kW
Rotor diameter: 33.4 m
Hub height: 50 m
Turbine concept: Gearless, variable speed, single blade pitch adjustment
Type: Upwind rotor with active pitch control
Rotation direction: Clockwise
No of blades: 3
Sweep area: 876 m²
Blade material: GRP (epoxy resin)
Rotational speed: Variable, 18 - 45 rpm
Main bearing: Tapered roller bearing pair
Generator: ENERCON direct-drive annular generator

Power is distributed around the station in a ring feed (for redundancy) on raised cable trays. Should there be a fire or a cable damaged power can be quickly distributed from another direction.

MPH control room
Engine room
EPH engine room
Enercon 330 kW wind powered turbine