jeudi 4 février 2010

Arrival at the Schirmacher Oasis

Wednesday, 3 February 2010
Hello again,
We have arrived on the last day of January to the Novo airstrip, after saying good-bye to the Princess Elisabeth. Everything was well organised. We were first transported from the plane with big, fancy Toyota. People told me that they had been used for a traverse to the South Pole last year. Now, they serve as transit vehicles.
But the best was to come..... an orange transformed Russian tank!

We arrived smoothly to the Station of Novolazarevskaya, made of prefab buildings. I notice that the Belgian flag is floating there, as it is a custom to display the flags of the nationals who are hosted by Antarctic stations.

We are lodging in a guest house of ALCI, it is quite cosy. We eat with all other people at the mess of the station, and we can enjoy some sporting facilities, like the local billiard.

We have met with the Director of Russian Antarctic Expedition, V.V. Lukin and thanked him for his support and the hospitality of the Station. He was there and, in fact, he took the same flight as Francois who was also flying with us from PES. I did a presentation about our project and about the Princess Elisabeth station. Everybody was very interested in their closest neighbour from the eastern side (410 km).

People are very friendly and hospitable. As we discover this new place, the scientists present help us with the orientation and the choice of the right spots for analysis.
Elie and myself speaking with a Russian scientist, Dimitry Fedorov

Unfortunately, at present, we cannot use their advices because the wind is about 20 m/s (72 km/h) and will not decrease soon. It's too windy even for the sampling of lithophytic cyanobacterial crusts which are very abundant here. Any sampling on the ice sheet or coring from the boat is, of course, absolutely impossible. The only experiment that we could start is air filtration. Fortunately, we have transported with us the air pump from the Princess Elisabeth. Moreover, Denis Lombardi who arrived with the same Bassler with which we left, has brought the anemometer that Nicole van Lipzig has given to him. We have installed the vacuum pump on the meteostation in the Eastern part of the Oasis. The wind is coming directly from the East. In fact for such expeditions, it is good to have 2 types of experiments: one for good weather and one for bad conditions. So at least, half of experiments will be done!

Waiting for better weather, we decided to pay a visit to the neighboring Indian station, Maitri. From there, I send you this blog!
Elie with the Maitri station Commander

Cheers, hopefully with some pictures of the Oasis! Zorigto

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