The team on its way to the coast - © International Polar Foundation

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A Successful Trip to the Coast

At 10 o'clock on Thurday morning, a team led by Alain Hubert left Utsteinen to set up the first base camp of the BELISSIMA project at the coast, some 200km north of the Princess Elisabeth Station. The project, led by ULB glaciologists Jean-Louis Tison and Frank Pattyn, studies the interaction between the ocean and the ice-sheet.

Upon return from their expedition with the NIPR geologists, the PEA team worked hard to prepare this expedition, preparing the mobile units, transforming sledges, and testing and installing scientific equipment for immediate use in the field. In total, four sledges were needed:

  • Mobile field lab container
  • Food and equipment container
  • Accommodation container (4 beds and heating)
  • Ski-doos and fuel

Participating in the expedition is Katherine Leonard, an American scientist who works for the University of Colorado at Boulder (USA) and the Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research in Davos (Switzerland). This season, she will cover a wide zone along the coast to take ice-shelf thickness, bathymetry, conductivity, temperature and depth measures of sea water.

Alain Hubert, Katherine Leonard (scientist), Kristof Soete (chief mechanic), Pierre Haelterman (journalist), and Olivier Pierre (journalist), left for the coast under bright blue skies. Both journalists are filming science in the field for the Belgian Science Policy and lend a hand where needed.

Reaching the coast without making a stop, the team set up base camp and made the first drillings. Every couple of days, the base camp will be moved by a few kilometers to take new measurements.

When they return from the field, the party will go by the offloading site where the Mary Arctica should arrive at the end of December. There, the team will check the cliff and assess the preparation work to be done to prepare a landing strip for the German scientists of the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI).

Author: Ben Huyge

Picture: The team on its way to the coast - © International Polar Foundation

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