Things began efficiently at the Pole this year, with the first jet’s cargo swiftly unloaded.
However the second jet didn’t fare so well.
The Russian website at: http://translate.google.ru/translate?hl=ru&sl=ru&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fbarneo-polus.livejournal.com%2F reported on the event April 3 (forgive the translation, which garbles the meaning a little):
“So, yesterday, during the second voyage to the landing there was a destruction right rear landing gear of the aircraft. Thus, to date, only two performed imported voyage – one technical equipment for the camp and the second with skiers, who immediately went to the route (we will wait for a lot of the self against the background of the affected aircraft after returning home skiers). Engineering staff evaluated the destruction of the sun and outlined a plan for repair. But until a replacement arrives plane, delivery schedule people on an ice floe slightly shifted.“
The next day the fellows who will set up our North Pole Camera reported: at http://psc.apl.washington.edu/research/npeo-2015-field-reports/
Saturday, 5 April Longyearbyen – Email from Jamie Morison
We were originally scheduled to leave yesterday, April 4. But a storm at Borneo had delayed the first flight of camp gear and our departure one day. Last night we were informed the second flight had a bad landing at Borneo and ripped off the right main landing gear. Fortunately, no serious injuries. The Antonov is now stuck in the middle of the runway. They need to get a new Antonov up from Moscow and get the damaged one off the runway or make a new runway. So NPEO faces a significant delay.
I’m not entirely sure whether the damaged jet actually was on the runway, because the site following the skiers who were aboard the flight reported:
Due to poor visibility en route from Svalbard to Ice Camp Barneo, where the trek will begin, the team’s plane had to make an emergency landing earlier today. All the team are safe and well, although the plane’s undercarriage suffered some damage.
A helicopter was dispatched to the landing spot to collect the trekkers and take them the rest of the journey to their start point at 1 degree from the North Pole. They have now arrived in Barneo and are in good spirits, ready to start their epic journey tomorrow.
The Russian site makes interesting reading, though you have to put up with translation garbling, and also need to read between the lines. There was apparent relief when more food arrived, and some concern about when (and perhaps if) more fuel would arrive. Then there was a sense of jubilation when the flights were resumed on April 9.
The wounded jet was apparently moved off the runway, and a tent for the workers repairing it was erected beside the jet. I think the jet can be seen is in the far distance of this picture. (All pictures from here on, except the last two, are from the Russian site.) They have around 45 days to repair it, before temperatures get above freezing and the runway starts to turn to slush. (Also the runway is built on the flattest ice, which is thinner, year-old, “baby ice”, and can crack into “leads” of open water if winds get strong.)
It is a bit of a circus up there, with numerous tourists who are willing to pay between $10,000 and $20,000 arriving. They come up to ski, or run in “the most northerly marathon,”
or even to bike.
The Russian site does a decent job of reporting the doings of the tourists, including uncensored reports of the ones who need to be rescued, due to suffering frostbite. (I imagine that is extra on your bill.) It is helpful that there are helicopters available to airlift skiers to a certain distance from the Pole, and then pick them up when they get there, and to save them when they get too cold.
One circus-like event involved a gentleman from Nigeria who wanted to parachute down, be photographed with his family, and then go scuba diving under the ice, through a hole cut through the relatively thin (two feet thick) ice of a frozen lead. This involved the use of a helicopter for nearly twelve hours, and likely cost a pretty penny.
As amusing as the circus may be, I am more interested in the sea-ice, and was worried about the fate of the North Pole Camera. Therefore I was relieved to today read,
Monday, 13 April (Russian Orthodox Easter) Barneo – Iridium call from Dean Stewart
Installation of Frederic Vivier’s Ice-T Buoy was completed at Barneo, and deployment of the Webcam Buoys begun. Dean phoned to check on the images successfully transmitted by Webcam1.
I like the actual pictures from the Pole, because I find the media does not give an accurate picture, with all its hype about the ice melting. Sometimes you are better off seeing for yourself that, even after a cold winter, storms can split the ice apart into wide leads.
Right beside the open water in the above picture you can see the mini-mountain-ranges, built when the ice slams back together, and forms pressure ridges of various sizes and shapes, and also beauty.
It may make money to take care of tourists, and it may increase our understanding more to bring scientists up there, but the underlying reason for these exercises always has been, and continues to be, a military reason.
The Barneo Ice Camp Journal provides an interesting map which shows the drift of the camp (dotted black line) as well as the progress of various skiers. (Click to clarify and enlarge.)
Not much of the “exploring” would be possible without the support of jets and helicopters, so it isn’t possible to put the modern adventurers on the same level as the men who dared the arctic sea without air support, long ago. In fact, when “Kenn Borek Air” decided not to fly support missions over the Arctic Sea this spring, most of the adventurers cancelled their plans, which is a pity, partly because they gave us reports of the sea-ice conditions, and partly because even with air support their journey’s are stunning examples of human will and stamina. The only person adventuring up there this spring will be Thomas Ulrich, who will lead a group of skiers to the pole as a guide, (the green line on the above map), and then set out alone from the Pole to Canada. He can use some prayers, as he travels solo without any air support, and will have to hunt for food once his supplies run out.
Jets, and, before jets, airplanes, have been landing on the ice since back in the 1950’s, and with six decades of experience the people involved know that April is the safest time up there. By May they will start wrapping things up, because the sun gets higher and higher in the sky, and never sets, and eventually temperatures get a degree above freezing, and landing a jet when the runway starts to turn to slush involves skis and not wheels, and is no tourist trip, but rather is a tourist trap.
Here is some information of earlier air supported base, from a post I did last year:
OLD 1975 PICTURES OF SEA-ICE CONDITIONS
Here are some pictures taken by (or owned by) Rolf Bjornert of the Arctic Ice Dynamics Joint Experiment (AIDJEX) in 1975. The first is of setting up camp or resupplying the camp, perhaps as early as March 13, 1975, though I judge the photo to be later due to the angle of the sunshine. The aircraft are identified as “an Alaska International Airways C 130 Hercules and a USN R4-D (in civilian terms called DC-3)”. The second picture was taken as the ice broke up right under the feet of the scientists at the main base in September. Amazingly, they simply packed things up and moved 40 miles away and went on with their work.
This base was located on the sea-ice north of Barrow, Alaska. My lying eyes see the ice was solid enough to land planes on in the spring, but cracked up in the fall, which is not that different from how things are now. (However, if you are more interested in politics than science, then all Alarmists should focus on the first picture showing how strong the ice was back then, whilst all Skeptics focus on the second picture showing the ice was weak back then, and by no means include both pictures in your blog, and be balanced.)
(Sorry if I seem a bit grouchy, but I’ve been doing my taxes for a solid week, and my tolerance for government-funded “science” concerning sea-ice is especially low, as I’m one of the poor suckers paying for it.)