From Phoenix airfield we climb aboard Ivan the TerraBus, and within minutes I am sweating: the Antarctic sun floods through the windows unobstructed, heating the bus to temperatures we thought we would never experience once this far south. Driving to McMurdo takes almost an hour, although the station appears much closer due to the absence of any kind of structure or object to provide scale. By the time I am in my room with my luggage it is around 9 pm. We have been in McMurdo for only two and half hours yet have somehow managed to attend two mandatory lectures, after filling up on hot food from the galley.
This season I share a room with fellow ROSETTA member Grant O’Brien, senior technician from GNS Science (formerly the Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences Limited), out of New Zealand. O’Brien excels in marine geophysics, computer modelling and programming, and airborne surveying. Last season, when a member of the Air National Guard asked how one actually uses geophysical data, O’Brien answered concisely explaining that one piece of data alone – say, just the magnetics, or just the gravity – would yield only ambiguous or nonunique results, and that reaching an interpretation with confidence involved a “harmony” of indirect methods. A harmony of methods; this resonated with me.
It is not common for teams on the ice to host members from five different institutions from the states, let alone, multiple countries. GNS’ interest in the both the bathymetry of the Ross Dependency and airborne gravimetry – as well experience with the ZLS gravity meter (which I will touch on later in more detail), our most reliable meter – makes the international collaboration mutually beneficial.