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Tuesday, 27 January 2009 01:01
After Fifty Years The Gamburtsev Mountains EmergeWritten by Antarcticaâ€™s Gamburtsev Province Project
Photo Credit - AGAP team
There were many times in the last two months where it seemed that the Antarctic Continent would win, keeping hidden the extensive landscape of subglacial lakes and mountains beneath the several kilometers of ice on Dome A. All the advance planning and negotiating with program leaders and logistics groups for enough days in the field to run the airborne geophysics were of little importance once we arrived on Antarctica. At this point we were negotiating with the continent herself, and we learned she can drive a hard bargain!
The group at AGAP S camp had anticipated that with the camp on the West side of Dome A, and set down from the highest point on the ice sheet, that the weather would not be a strong factor in our flight schedule. We learned otherwise. Weather was a constant issue. Mapping flights were grounded and sent back early. Support flights delivering fuel were diverted and returned. Thick air with little visibility and howling winds that battered the area combined to cause frustration and setbacks for the research team. However, the group was determined. Doubling their flights on clear days, jumping to four flights a day from two flights a day, allowed the team to regroup. In the end with just five flights remaining, two days worth of flights, the team was determined not to let the continent win. After deliberating and waiting for several days, the weather cleared and the project was flown to completion.
The hidden terrain of large lakes and alp sized mountains will be pieced together from the over 50,000 kilometers of flight lines that have been collected. The first glimpses of the Gamburtsev silhouette are a reward to all who worked on the project. Time to head home, but with a renewed respect for Antarctica, her power and her presence.
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