Working in the dry valleys requires that we travel from station to our field sites by helicopter. There aren’t any roads, there’s a giant field of sea ice between the dry valleys and McMurdo Station, and time is extremely valuable. So, (to my everlasting delight) we travel by helicopter.

Caption: (L-R) Diana, Matt, and Ashley in the helo on the way to sample the P3 experiment. Photo: Tandra Fraser

(L-R): Diana, Matt, and Ashley in the helo on the way to sample the P3 experiment. Photo: Tandra Fraser

Our helicopter flights were canceled on Saturday, leaving half of our team grounded on station and a few others stuck out in the field. Those of us on station are a little envious of those stuck in the field. Being ‘stuck in the field’ is not as extreme as what you are thinking… Ok, so the helicopter is not coming back to get you today. That means that you stay at the field camp, which is complete with a kitchen, plenty of food, fresh water, electricity, phone, and even internet. And you have access to the experiments that need sampling, observation, and treatment. Yes, being in the field is the best place to be!

Zach (left) and Diana (right) working away in the office. Photo: Ashley Shaw

Zach (left) and Diana (right) working away in the office. Photo: Ashley Shaw

For the group still in McMurdo, we are coming to a stalemate. All the possible lab work has been completed. Data has been entered, checked, rechecked. We’ve washed all the lab dishes, packed bags for every upcoming planned trip, and brainstormed innumerable backup plans. Now we are all working away at our computers catching up on emails, manuscripts that need editing, data analysis, and new blog posts. And dreaming of upcoming fieldwork…

We are all used to these sorts of delays. Weather, especially visibility and wind, can keep helicopters grounded for days. Scheduling conflicts, particularly when there’s a backlog of trips that haven’t gotten out due to weather, can postpone travel. Here’s hoping for clear skies on Monday!

Written by: Ashley Shaw

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