Over the last month temperatures have gradually dropped which has allowed the sea to start freezing over. Sea ice can be very dangerous and requires very specific conditions to form sufficiently to travel across, the main threats to the stability of the ice are wind and warm temperatures. Today was the first time this year that weather has allowed us to get out onto the ice to assess it’s condition.
We travelled in submersion suits incase the ice was to break beneath us and wore skis to spread our weight as much as possible. Our aim for today was to drill holes at regular intervals and measure the thickness of the ice. What we found the ice in the bay to the north of Rothera (known as hangar cove) to be very variable. In places the ice was over 40cm’s thick and in other areas it was around 30cm. In certain areas there was a slushy layer about 5cm in depthon topof some good ice over 30cm thick. To the south of Rothera (South cove) the ice was far more uniform andconsistentlymeasured around 29cm.
Sea ice has been the cause of several fatalities within BAS over the years. Thankfully not in recent years but this is due to treating it with great caution. As such there are very strict regulations that we adhere to before travel. The following info shows the safe thicknesses in theory for sea ice travel and what we follow at BAS.
- Skis: Theory = 10cm; BAS = 20cm
- Foot: Theory = 13cm; BAS = 25cm
- Skidoo: Theory = 15cm; BAS = 30cm