Amery Ice Shelf sortie

Earlier this week I was asked to help with some very remote maintenance…on the Amery Ice Shelf.  Out at a site identified as ‘AM06’ there are a pair of masts and a rather large ‘space case’ filled with various data loggers and instrumentation (including an ice thickness radar, automatic weather station, seismic probes, GPS loggers, etc).  Not all of these instruments were working as intended, so the Climate Processes and Change (CPC) Engineer was assigned some helicopter hours to enable him to get it all working again.


We prepared all of the equipment we needed on Wednesday, and loaded up the helicopters at 5pm.  The lot of us (two pilots, myself, the CPC engineer and one of the heli engineers) ducked down to the mess for a quick bite to eat, then headed back up the the helipad.  A few minutes later we were en route to Sansom Island to spend the night.




The trip to Sansom Island was every bit as scenic as the last time I flew there, but with very different light.  I’ve included these to give an idea of just how much nothing there is out here, as well as all of the lovely details that you usually get to see in photos.




Sansom Island was every bit as scenic as last time.  I grabbed a few quick shots before we tied the helicopters down and retired for the night.






Aside from a distant rocky island with a glacier behind it, we were totally surrounded by nothingness.  Being out there made the Nullarbor Plain seem populous and verdant by comparison.  As for the eqiupment, well, we fixed more than we broke and even managed to install most of the new equipment that Adam had hoped to put in place.  Considering how much work we achieved in the 6 hour weather window we’d been afforded, I think it was time well spent.

We flew from AM06 straight back to Davis Station, which took around 1.5 hours and covered around 160Nm (nearly 300km).  We passed many glaciers and other amazing features, not to mention the Indian, Russian and Chinese stations, as well as the Rauers island group.  I’ll end this post with the whole selection of photos from that leg of the trip, including one I rather like of different coloured melt water (with and without algal life) with some seals nearby.  Thanks for reading  🙂















6 Comments on “Amery Ice Shelf sortie

  1. Hi Robert, well very breath taking photo’s and for nothingness it is a wonderland of natures beauty. Thanks for sharing your experience with us. Some shot’s of the chopper taking off and buzzing around would be good if you get a chance or opportunity.
    We have just returned from Perth so will look forward to a chat soon please. Love Dad & Oom

    • Thanks for saying so. After more than a year down here, I think I’m finally getting the hang of processing photos with a lot of snow in them.

  2. Gorgeous shots. I’m loving seeing the colours and the textures of the Antarctic. Will you suffer from visual over-stimulation when you return? I recommend just wandering around in a supermarket and soaking up the surreality of it all.

    • I’m sure I’ll have to deal with colours and shapes again, with crowds of people, with smells existing, with remembering money, and so on. I look forward to the fruits of the real world though (literally).

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