24.11. Driving from Aboa to Svea

In earlier post we mentioned the long drive from Aboa Research station to Svea station, which we did a few days ago. Here is some more about that:

The air in Antarctica is vacuum clear, the clarity that makes crystal look cheap and nasty. The sky is blue as at the edge of space and visibility is not even limited by the oblate-spheroidal nature of the planet. That’s because of another factor of looking at stuff here – the Fatima-Morgana.

This is exactly the opposite of a mirage. It’s caused by the air being very cold close to the snow surface and the air a few meters above being quite a few degrees warmer. This difference in temperature changes the refractive index of air (as in a mirage), which bends light as it passes through it. Light from objects near the horizon travels mostly in these layers and are strongly distorted. The net effect is that it seems like you are sitting in the middle of a big bowl, the horizon is up in every direction.

The combination of the great clarity and the Fatima-Morgana means that it’s a bloody long way to the horizon. So for example during the 200 km, 12.5 hour scooter journey from Aboa to Svea, the view changed exactly once. For 3 hours we drove towards a low ridge named Fossilryggen. Visible at about 50 km distance from Aboa. Finally we arrived and pulled up the 100 m or so rise with some reasonably exciting crevasses off to the left. After a couple of kilometers we crested the last short rise and there in front of us – 150 km in front of us, was Heimefrontfjella. Bugger. That was a sloooow crawl to the horizon.
 
Hour after hour sitting on the scooter hearing it drone, drone, drone and drone some more. The only distraction is the weather is, are the clouds going to get to us? Is it getting windy? (bloody hell, it did get windy and coldish). But mostly is looking at the mountains never getting closer and the painfully slow clicking onward of the scooter odometer and the GPS waypoint coming closer very slowly. I mean it’s ridiculous when there are no course changes necessary for 124 km between two waypoints. If I had made the route I would have added a couple just for the sake of keeping awake!  Drone, drone, drone… get the idea, pretty dull eh?

svealle1.jpg

Only 5 hours more of this view and we will be there! Wish I could get the BBC on this helmet antenna! Photo: John Moore/FINNARP

Not the kind of thing to want to rush out and repeat in the near future. 12.5 hours (and that was a fast trip) of scooter driving and you do feel it for a day or two after. And the last thing in the world you want to do is do it again, even though that’s what needs doing to get home, “I don’t care just leave me here” is how you feel. Well, the only thing is that here at Svea there is no water except that made by melting snow. Therefore washing of self or clothes is not easily – or for that matter difficulty, done.

After only 10 days here, the thought of the nice sauna, shower (my hair is getting quite itchy now, but that will pass in a week I know), and not having to wear these same clothes for another week starts to sound quite attractive. Its only 200 km and it only took 12 hours getting here, maybe we can pick up Kristiina when she arrives and take a shower at the same time instead of waiting for Swedarp to bring her here?

Cheers,

 -John 

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ARCTIC CENTRE BLOGS AT WORDPRESS

JAN MAYEN ARCTIC EXPEDITION 2010 by Emilie Beaudon

KINNVIKA EXPEDITION by Emilie, Venkata, Michael and Sakari

ANTARCTIC EXPEDITION by John Moore and Aslak Grinsted


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