March 2017

Now there were only 17 of us left at Davis. It did not take long until we were all in our routines and planning for the up-coming winter.

Some of the big elephants seals were leaving. It is a bit of a mystery on what triggers a seal to leave – I guess the main reason is hunger.

 

The nights were getting longer, and on the night of the 7th we had our first, highly visible aurora australis which are best seen in Polar regions of the Arctic and Antarctic.

So at around 11:30 pm I ventured out with my camera and tripod to capture this wonderful phenomena. I was pleased with the photos but in the future I would have to learn the intricate skills required to get that amazing night photo. Below are 3 examples of my first attempt.

 

A fairly common atmospheric phenomena is a halo – it occurs when the light from the sun (or moon) interacts with the ice crystals in high (usually cirrus) cloud. This is the subject of the first photo below.

The rest of the photos are of the low angle of the sun and a sunset, including a mirage.

 

We have a brand new hydroponics building – on the 10th 0f March we christened the facility and helped plant the first crops.

Then we have an intense chess match in the LQ followed by several pictures taken just down from the Met building.

 

The temperatures have started to drop with night time temperatures -10℃ to -16℃ (14 to 3℉) so we are seeing the sea ice developing and thickening. We also had another decent snow fall early on the 12th.

I went down to the beach and took these photos, plus one of the 6:15pm radiosonde wether balloon launch.

 

There was around 4cm (2 inches) of snow overnight – so the 13th was another great opportunity to capture some images of the elephant seals on the beach. The contrast in colour is amazing. Added to the spectacle was the approach from the Northeast of darkening snow laden clouds.

 

I then wandered further afield to take the following images.

 

We have serious mountain bikes on station – many expeditioners used them during the summer. The first 2 pics are of Lötter riding around the pristine snow setting.

Also we decided that it would be nice to get a station group photo or 2.

 

I had the dubious honour of being selected as ‘Tool of the week’ – I was presented a very special safety helmet.

Another group of adèlie penguins gathered to moult just down the hill from the old Met balloon building.

The last two photos in the following group are of Crepuscular rays

 

After a couple of days of snow and cooling temperatures – there was a rapid increase in the sea ice developing in the bay.

 

We celebrated the Autumn equinox – it is a day when all locations on the planet experience equal (approximately) length of day and night.

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All dressed up to celebrate the Autumn Equinox

 

We had a few days of strong to gale force winds (20th and 21st) culminating in a wind gust of 66 knots (122 km/h, 76 miles/h) at 8:22am on the 21st. This resulted in all the loose snow being blown away and replaced by sand and dust. Again this changed the look of the station and surrounds.

 

Early morning on both the 28th and 29th there was a strong signal for an aurora. I got up at 12:30am on the 28th and 3 am on the 29th and spent time outside taking photos of these spectacular displays of light. It gave me an opportunity to improve my skills at night photography. In saying this – some of the photos below are a little out of focus. This may be due, in part, to long exposure times of 25 sec and 30 sec.

 

The last three photos for the month were taken at sunset, just before 7pm on the 31st. They also show how much of the snow that we had during the month has been blown away.

 

Next – April 2017. We see the sea ice well and truly return. More amazing auroras, snow, ice and colder temperatures as the days become shorter.

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