Z-fids Newsletter No. 44

March 2019

      Z - F I D S    N E W S L E T T E R   No. 44   13 Mar 2019

Editor: Andy Smith (email andy@zfids.org.uk)
Website: www.zfids.org.uk

News from Halley
At the end of February, after the 2018/19 summer season, the station
personnel departed but automated systems continued the scientific
observations. The station commander, Rich Warren, has sent the
following report:

"The Halley summer season 2018-19 is over and the door into C module
has been swung shut for the final time until reoccupation next summer.
Departing at the end of February following a very successful season
was bittersweet, as this marks the beginning of the third consecutive
winter with no wintering team. That being said, we have taken a step
in a bright new direction with the successful commission of the
micro-turbine generator; a unit with an automated fuelling system
which will provide power to a suite of instruments throughout the
nine unmanned winter months. The prestigious long-term atmospheric
and space weather datasets for which Halley is renowned are, once
again, being acquired outside of the Antarctic summer for the first
time since 2016. This includes but are not limited to, a mechanically
automated Dobson spectrophotometer, Clean Air Section instruments,
an array of riometers and magnetometers, the meteorology tower
instruments. The acquisition of winter science data is essential
for cementing Halley as a platform for Antarctic science, and I am
delighted to say that thus far, the micro-turbine is running well
and all systems are go.

This project represents the excellence and integration of every
department at Halley this season. From the mechanical systems which
deliver the fuel, to the communications network that allow us to
remotely monitor and communicate with every feature of the turbine
(not to mention transfer of the data back to Cambridge), every aspect
has been made with robustness and multiple back-ups in mind to ensure
it runs safely while the station is unoccupied. It signifies a truly
interdepartmental collaboration and is a hallmark of the season,
with a summer team of only 36 this year, we have relied on each other
more than ever to deliver what in recent years, has taken 60-70 people
to accomplish.

Another key feature of this season has been the continued propagation
and widening of both Chasm 1 to the west (propagating north), and
Halloween Crack to the north (propagating east). As of mid-March, the
west Brunt is connected to the rest of the Brunt Ice Shelf by a
sliver of 4.5km of ice. All eyes (as well as an ApRES, 16 'Lifetime
of Halley' stations and a huge amount of satellite imagery) have been
watching it ceaselessly, though it still remains attached for now.
While this has been said daily since 2017, it surely cannot be long
until it breaks off, and from the fresh ice edge we will be able to
examine the possibility of a ship call in future years in the absence
of the newly adrift Creeks. With a ship call bringing a resupply of
food and fuel, and with to-be-determined stability in the ice shelf
that remains, we can look at returning Halley to a more familiar set
up in the foreseeable future.

Until then, I hope you'll all join me in looking with optimism and
excitement to next year and beyond."

Many thanks to Rich for keeping us informed of latest developments.

Sadly, as usual, there are deaths to announce.

John Bradford
John Bradford died in December 2018. He was one of the geophysicists
at Halley in 1977 and 1978 and after that, worked for the Rutherford
Appleton Lab. JB was a popular base member and always attended the
1977 reunions organised by Ken Lax.

Jim  Blackie
Jim died on 11th December 2018 at the age of 81. He was the wintering
physicist at Halley in 1960.
Lyn Blackie writes: "He completed an M.Sc. on his auroral work
at Halley. We were married in February 1962 and left for Kenya
later that year, supposedly for 2 years which became nearly 10!
He went from the 'heavens' at Halley to 'water' as his job was now
catchment research.  This took him to all 3 East African countries.  
Jim returned to the UK in 1971 to work at the Institute of Hydrology
where he worked till his retirement in 1998. Although his work was
mainly in the UK and Channel Islands, his 'itchy' feet were eased by
several 3-month returns to Kenya plus less extended spells in India,
Pakistan, New Zealand, Chile and the Czech Republic. He led a very
active retirement continuing with his beloved allotment, long distance
walks and orienteering until COPD caught up with him and gradually
ruined his mobility."
Lyn has sent some of Jim's photos which are included on the Z-Fids
1960 webpage.

Z-fids website www.zfids.org.uk
A landmark was reached in November 2018 when the website, which has
now been running since June 2001, recorded its 100,000th visit.

A page has been added on the Ferguson farm tractors, modified with
added tracks, which were used in the first few years before they were
replaced by Muskegs in 1961. www.zfids.org.uk/1960/ferguson.htm
The first two pictures on the page (monochrome) were taken by Jim
Blackie. But who took the two colour pictures? And what is on the
sledge being towed in the second picture?

Lewis Juckes (geologist 1964-1965) has written about an expedition
above the roofs of the Halley-I buildings, to find the source of a
leak. This was published in the BAS Club Magazine No. 79, but Lewis
has asked me to republish it here. Find it from the link on the 1964

Ian Jones (Met. physicist 1982 and 1983) has put together a YouTube
video of his time on base, entitled "Not all beer and icicles".
See the 1982 page.

Vince Carter has sent in a satellite image of the Brunt Ice Shelf from
Polar View (2018+ page). This clearly shows Chasm No 1 and the
Hallowe'en Crack.

Since July 2008 the website has been archived from time to time in the
UK Web Archive. See link on the Z-Fids home page.

Contributions to the website are welcome at any time. Take a look at
the page(s) corresponding to the time when you were at Halley. Did
anything special or unusual happen which could be mentioned? Do you
have any anecdotes or interesting photos?

British Antarctic Oral History Project
Of the 286 Oral History interviews held in BAS Archives, 231 have now
been transcribed by our team of volunteers.
88 of the interviews have been published on the BAS Club website (link
on the zfids home page) and more are expected to be published later this
year. You don't need to be a BAS Club member to see them. There are
links on the Z-Fids website to the interviews featuring Halley people
(See the General Index under Oral history recordings).

Here are a couple of extracts from the interviews:

Martin Pinder (cook 1970): Radio hamming
"You needed 10 words a minute receiving and transmitting to get your
amateur licence which was issued from the Falklands. When I went down
to Halley, there was an ionosphericist (I only know him as Graunch).
I can’t remember his name now [Keith Chappell]. Anyhow because they
had to send up things into the ionosphere, and then receive, bounce
them back, so they had a good receiver there which you could pick up
the World Service. Then he said ‘Why don’t we get a transmitter out of
the old base?’ So we trogged off down there with a skidoo and a
sledge, put an A-frame up with a Handy-Hauler. We used a skidoo with
a pulley system, crawled down through this (it was about forty feet
I think), went down on a Dexion ladder, and crawled through ice-
covered little tunnels to get to the radio shack. This was Halley-I,
and the ice crystals in there were absolutely fantastic. I took loads of
black & white photos of them. Anyway we dragged this thing along.
It was only hauling it up we realised how heavy it was. We used a
skidoo and it actually buckled the A-frame that we’d erected but
luckily we had just got it to the top, took it back to the Beastie
Hut, hauled it down the shaft into there. Graunch then converted it
from being AM to go out on Single Sideband and I used to spend hours
there. You’d do ‘CQ, CQ’ and so anyone but everybody wants to talk,
make contact with somebody in the Antarctic."

NERC copyright, reproduced courtesy of BAS Archives Service.
Archives ref AD6/24/1/129.

Andy Spearey (Tractor Mechanic 1979): Austere conditions at Halley-III
"There were only two generators when there should really have been
three, so blackouts at Halley III were a regular occurrence. The
generators were running very very close to their maximum loads and it
only needed somebody just to put one light extra on and that was it:
it tripped it all out. So consequently of course, none of the pit
rooms were heated; the whole pit room block was unheated. So you
would record -12 degrees in the winter months in your pit room.
You didn’t mess around in your pit room; you certainly didn’t spend
any time in there. The lounge was only heated from Friday night to
Sunday night; it wasn’t heated the rest of the time so that got cold
as well, though because it was in the living block with the kitchen,
it did get some heat from the kitchen so it didn’t get really really
cold, but you wouldn’t want to go and sit in there. So it was a
fairly austere sort of a place."

NERC copyright, reproduced courtesy of BAS Archives Service.
Archives ref AD6/24/1/205.

Many thanks to all contributors to this Newsletter.

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26 Oct 2019
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