Monday, 23 December 2013


Unfortunately, I’m still in Casey station, waiting for my turn to get into the ABN. It’s been frustrated week with waiting game for good weather to fly. This delay is all because of the weather, we cannot do anything. That is really frustrating. 

Finally, first planes flew to the ABN this morning with Mark, Simon, Malcolm and some important Cargos and second flights with David, Jerome and Trevor just before lunch with more Cargo. We allow to sending only 6 people at first day due to considering cold temperature, strong wind (-29°C with 15kts on Wed) and high altitude environment. These members are highly experienced crew to carry on science project; drilling 3 ice cores and firn air sampling. 

It was exciting moment when the first crews left after 2.5 weeks waiting. Mark was surrounding by several media crews and they were taking photo of him really close up. A media crew put a mike on Mark and following him with video. Put all personnel stuffs in bus, farewell to rest of members, some video interview and photo session. And ready to go.

Hopefully everything goes well continuously, and rest of us can get into the field soon. I don’t need Christmas present, so please give us few days of good weather! All my fingers and toes are crossed!

Thursday, 12 December 2013



It’s been a week since we arrived in Casey station.
We are settling in well and busy preparing for our field trip, sorting cargo, testing equipment, safety briefing for working in high altitude and cold weather. 
Malcolm, our field doctor, gave each of us a bag of medicine for the situation. We need to report our condition every day for first 10days when we get to the field for future reference. I hope We don’t need to use this much and adapt well in the special environment!

We are also helping other scientists out with their research by, shoveling snow, setting up instruments, and even doing house work, doing slushy in kitchen etc. Everybody down here are nice and are helping each other.

With our spare time, we went for a short walk to the wharf and Reeves Hill. I was expecting to see lots of penguins during this walk, but no luck. Well, we saw few penguins far far away. But it was too far that they just look like a few black beans in the snow.

My first Penguin was on Saturday night. After dinner, (people dressed up for Saturday dinner! This is special dinner for the week.) we were in the living area, relaxing with few glass of wine, when somebody looked outside the window and said ‘It’s a penguin over there!’ I ran back to my room and grab my jacket, got outside and there is a penguin wondering around nearby our heavy vehicles! He/she was just walking around the station for a while, then disappeared. Such an adorable little cutie animal!!

On Sunday with wonderful weather, field training officer James took us to Shirley Island. We walked on sea ice. Several little crack on sea ice reminds me of the possibility of danger and I think 'What if…. ' But the fear doesn’t last long with amazing view of ice/snow/blue sky/penguins/seals! Penguins are so friendly, of course, we are not supposed to get to close to them. But they are just coming up to us! A penguin came so close to us, and started walking on human track. He/she walk few step in front of me, looked back at me, walk few steps again, then look back me again. It’s like he/she is leading me to some wonderland! We then came to little junction and he/she choose to go left, while I went right. He/she stop there for a while, looking at me asking, why am I not following?!
A while later, he/she lost interested on me and just slide away.

We also saw few Weddell seals. They seldom move. They are just lying on ice. Sometime scratching their belly, rolling over to change sleeping position. We took a rest on top of the island, taking photo of everybody. Again, few penguins are come along to checking on us. They are really curious animals! That was amazing Sunday afternoon.

Highlight of this week was field training.
1st group of ABN on Casey station went to field training on Monday-Tuesday including Mark, Meredith, Jenny, Jerome, David, Trevor, Simon, Andrew, and me. First, we had a briefing.
We had to introduce ourselves and our role in the field, previous field and training experience, and something interesting about ourselves that nobody in the team knows. It was a funny moment when telling our ‘secrets’ to each other. James said this is not boot camp, this is for working together as a team and for getting familiar with your gear and equipment.

Next, we moved to field shed. All gear we need such as boots, gloves, sleeping bags etc in this shed.
We got a sleeping bag, sleeping mat, throw bag, 2 pee bottles, few hand warmers in a back pack.
Get all gear ready, packed our lunch, and ready to go!

We got on 2 hagglund to the Casey skiway, 30 mins drive from Casey station. We set up the mess tent first and put out the table and chairs. Looks like a comfy dining area little bit small for a total 10 ppl with big jackets.We then set up several polar pyramids as our sleeping tent, and for toilet.

Now some of you may be interested in how we go to the toilet in the field in Antarctica. As there are no toilets in Antarctica (except at field stations) we have to use a bucket. The bucket is lined with double black plastic rubbish bags, with a toilet seat attached, we sit down on the seat, a do our business. For boys, number 1's is much easier, just use a bottle and empty it into the big bin.For girls, however, things are little bit more complicated.We are issued special funnel for the small business. Use it to do in bottles as boys usually do, standing!!! Personally, I hate it. But when nature calls you have no choice.

Anyway, back to the field training. After we set up camp, we practice how to use our GPS. That is cool equipment. If we get lost in the middle of nowhere, it will lead us to the camp site. (previous setting required). We won’t get lost as long as the battery last! Viva technology!! We had a look skiway office, walked around airplane, took photos. Back to camp site, we practice how to use stove burner. This is also important to boil water/cook to keep warm. We are everyday working hard on first layer under skin! Keeping warm is crucial to survive in this environment.

Our wonderful chef, Jenny prepared our dinner before this training. We just need to warm up into boiled water. We got fried rice, pasta, beef stew, and lamb shank soup for dinner, several muffins, and chocolate cookies for extra. It’s really nice to have warm food on ice.

Then it’s bed time, even though the sun is still up and the sky is bright blue, it’s actually 10p.m. The weather was beautiful. It was -10 degrees, but didn’t feel like it. Because the weather was so nice, some people choose to sleep outside. For me, this is the 3rd time sleeping in tent in my life. I was afraid that I cannot sleep. But I slept very well the night.

Next morning, we woke up around 7a.m. After breakfast, we packed up tents, then practiced search and rescue techniques using our GPS and radio. We worked in pairs, with our commander telling us where to go through the radio, and follow the GPS. It was a little hard to walk around with big boots on snow, but it was good exercise.

Last  training was blind walk. This is the training for in the case of zero visibility. 4-5 people connected in a line with a rope, eyes covered, and walked from shed to shed. We cannot see anything, just walk towards to next building. The surface wasn’t flat, so we had to walk slowly, and communicate with each other. We thought we are walking strait, but somehow we went to the left.
Hope we can do better in real situation. Well. Hope this kind of harsh situation won’t happen!

It was fun, useful training. Now we know how to build a polar pyramid, how to go to the toilet, how to sleep in cold camp. We are all ready to go to Aurora Basin!

Thursday, 5 December 2013


For the next 2 months APECS Oceania's Treasure Ms. Mana Inoue will participating in the Aurora Basin Ice Core drilling Project. During this time, Mana will be blogging from Antarctica to share her experiences with you. Below is her first blog. 

My name is Mana Inoue. I am a PhD student from Antarctic Climate Ecosystem & Cooperate Research Centre (ACE CRC)/Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS), at the University of Tasmania.

During my time in Antarctica, I will be participating in the Aurora Basin Ice Core drilling Project ( (AAD site), (Tas’s traverse blog)). This is my first trip to Antarctica. In this blog, I will talk about my experiences living in Antarctica and about life at Casey station and in the field.

Dec 3, 2013: Departure day
On December 3rd, we board our plane for Antarctica. Traveling by plane is much easier and faster than by ship, but less sentimental.  

Thankfully our flight was delayed by four hours which meant I could sleep a little longer.  (Otherwise I have to be airport at 3:30 am!) I was super excited that I couldn’t sleep well though.

During our flight we had great weather, which allowed us to see seven mile beach, few islands, and beautiful southeast Tasmania. Water/tea/coffee and hot meal was served on the flight.

Our First Iceberg
About 3 hours into the flight we saw our first iceberg. It was a tiny little white thing in ocean that I could barely recognise whether it was an iceberg or a patch of cloud. Then another one came up, little bigger. Then more and more and more, bigger and bigger and bigger. We saw beautiful blue ice and I think, I saw one ice berg just flipped. I think. I hit my forehead and nose on window glass many times. 

Then we our flight reached Antarctica! The pilot gave us a little tour flying over Casey station.White continent, sea ice, ice berg, ocean. It was awesome, amazing, beautiful view. It was just beautiful.

After ~5hr from departure, we landed on Wilkins runway. It was smooth landing and I finally, got to step onto Antarctica! It wasn’t cold at all with full survival gear on. Blue sky, no wind, strong Sun.
Sun is really strong here. One guy was walking around with sunscreen tube, asking people to put it on, and telling us that the sun is killing us here!

We get on the bus and drive to Casey station. A couple of photo stops, and after a 3 hr drive, we arrived at Casey station. Welcomed by Station leader, get some induction and settled in accommodation.

It was long exciting day. And now happy to get into the bed.

People in the field

Over 6 weeks some 24 scientists and support personnel will work at the Aurora Basin ice core driling site. Two teams are planned, with about 16 people in each team. The first team will work the first 3 weeks, before a partial change-over of some team members in the second 3 weeks. About 7 people are scheduled to work the full season. Read more about the Aurora Basin project team in the following profiles.

Some Photos