Sunday, July 30, 2006


Today marks itself as the end of dark winter. The sun hasn't come up yet- it still sits quietly behind the horrizon lighting the sky a little more each day.
It's the end of dark winter because it was light enough to KITE!!! I love kiting. It rocks, and I can do it now - jumping and everything.

July is know for being a 'down month'. I suppose the fact that I haven't posted since the end of MidWinter proves it effected me. We've been doing a few odd things, just nothing major.

Theme night no. ** (think of a big number).

Heaps of great cosumes.

Since there are no good female superheroes I made my costume using used bits and bobs from the CASLab. We do a daily filter change and a fornightly mega clean filter change using all sorts of gloves, masks, arm protectors etc, so I used a few of those. I also got some broken daily filters and used them on my utility belt and necklace.

In costume.

NO CAPES!!! Batman getting caught in the computer room.

Otherwise we've been getting on with alsorts. General living mainly. Outside it's been getting quite exciting. After going through a good purple stage the sky has been getting lighter with climaxing to an almost blue colour a few days ago.

A LilacOut. Like a WhiteOut, met code 9**** but with a purple tinge. Alex in front.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

The Life of a Meteorological Observer

I thought it was about time to describe my job, so here's an attempt.

I'm emplyed by the British Antarctic Survey as a Meteorological Observer/Physicist. I started in July 2004 and am not due to finish my contract until March 2007 when I reach the Falklands again. I left the UK by ship on the 23rd of October 2004, sailling on the RRS Ernest Shackleton via MonteVideo, the Falkland Islands, Signy Base, and the South Georgia Islands.

Before I left the UK I recieved almost four months of training. During this time I was based in Cambridge doing courses including Mast Climbing, Field Training, Breathing Apparatus Training, and Meteorological Training. It's probably important to say that appart from GCSE Geography I haven't ever had any Met training before. But I do well at this job because I have been trained as a scientist, and am able to describe things and data handel as a scientist. The observing part of a Met Ob (Meteorological Observer) is a bit more of an art than a science. The idea is to use code (that is used world-wide) to describe the state of the sky at the time of an ob, the weather that is and was happening over the specific ob time. It's really a case of getting your eye in and getting used to what sort of weather and cloud we get here (doing obs on the ship on the way back might be a bit interesting - I haven't seen a cumulonimbus for a couple of years).

So I am here, as part of a team of three winterers, to keep a good record of the Met. That much is obvious. But we also have a whole host of other instruments wiring and beeping measuring various things to look after. We also have a lot of (what I call) monkey jobs, that are pretty mindless and need to be done daily.

We can split our experiments and data loggers into three sections; Met, Boundary Layer Experiments and CASLab experiments.
Met is a short way of saying MOMU (Meteorological and Ozone Monitoring Unit) which includes the daily Weather Balloon Flight, Stratospheric Ozone Measurements, Synoptic hour Met Obs, Snowstake measurements, Air sampling, Snow sampling, Met obs for local Aircraft, Satelite Image
Boundary Layer Experiments are currently run under the two following acronyms; FOCAS (Forcings from the Ocean, Clouds, Atmosphere & Sea-ice) and CEFAC (Chemical Exchange and Feedbacks between the Atmosphere & Cryosphere). These projects and acronyms are changed every 5 years. Instruments and experiments come and go over the years, but generally an experiment will last a while. At the moment we run a Sodar bucket which is a Sound