McMurdo Antarctica Lidar Project

Penguins at last! »

by xinzhao | posted: January 22nd, 2011

During the night of January 21-22, 2011 — the night I finally flew out of the ice — we witnessed a live “show” of an Adelie penguin versus a Weddell seal at the Hut Point on Ross Island in Antarctica. I also photographed four emperor penguins standing beside the runway to Pegasus International Airport. The beauty of Antarctica has attracted so many people year after year regardless of the harsh environment. Even before I boarded the northbound C-17 flight, I had already begun to miss the magic of Antarctica! Continue reading Penguins at last!

Triumph at McMurdo, Antarctica »

by xinzhao | posted: January 18th, 2011

Patience, creativity, and persistence finally paid off! The A-130 lidar team successfully resolved the lidar EMI (electro-magnetic interference) issue at Arrival Heights in the 9th week at Antarctica.

Nice weather has returned to McMurdo so the team is happily running the lidar to collect data for our science goals. An icebreaker ship, Oden, finally made its way through to reach the Hut Point on Sunday, January 16, 2011, and a research vessel, Palmer, followed its path to dock at McMurdo. I finally climbed to the top of the Observational Hill the night of January 17th, 2011. All these came along with the arrival of Dr. Chet Gardner – a colleague and dear friend of mine and the co-PI of this lidar project! Continue reading Triumph at McMurdo, Antarctica

8th week at McMurdo: Science activities & Skype teaching on ice »

by xinzhao | posted: January 11th, 2011

After the gorgeous weather around Christmas (maximum reaching about +5C with clear sky), McMurdo had overcast sky for nearly two weeks from December 28th, 2010 to the morning of January 9th, 2011. Since the lidar beam couldn’t penetrate such thick clouds, we took this time to optimize the lidar system, provide training opportunities to our winter-over student Zhibin Yu, spend tons of time to work on the EMI issue, and do preliminary analysis on our lidar data collected so far. The 8th week was highlighted by Dr. Vladimir Papitashvili’s 2nd visit to our lidar at Arrival Heights, the science lecture I gave to the folks at McMurdo and Scott Base, the teaching of a lidar class to CU-Boulder graduate students via Skype, and a new classical story of Zhibin! Continue reading 8th week at McMurdo: Science activities & Skype teaching on ice

Happy New Year 2011 from Antarctica! »

by xinzhao | posted: January 1st, 2011

We at McMurdo are probably one of the first groups in the world to enter the new year 2011, as the local time is the same as New Zealand (two hours ahead of Australia, five hours ahead of China, and 20 hours ahead of Colorado). A special new year celebration was named “Ice Stock” at McMurdo – a music festival from 6pm to 1am. The warm weather around Christmas didn’t repeat, and the outdoor temperature was around -7 deg C during the celebration. Even so, many people still stayed hours enjoying the different music bands. We came to the celebration just before the new year bell, and joined the folks in counting down the time.

“Happy New Year!!!” — Finally we burst out this greeting from our hearts!!! Saying goodbye to the wonderful year of 2010, as the new year of 2011 brings bigger hope to everyone! We are looking forward to science breakthroughs and more lidar adventures in 2011!

A relaxing moment for the lidar team (Weichun, Xinzhao, and Wentao). Zhibin was sleeping so missed this celebration.

Happy New Year!!! Wasn't I a little crazy at that moment? The gentleman between Weichun and Xinzhao is Electrician Jason, and the gentleman on the right is PJ Chanpentier - an old lidar friend who wintered over at the South Pole for a broadband sodium lidar system ~13-15 years ago.

Continue reading Happy New Year 2011 from Antarctica!

6th week at McMurdo, Antarctica: Christmas on Ice »

by xinzhao | posted: December 26th, 2010

The Christmas 2010 at McMurdo was marked by nice, warm and clear weather, delicious Christmas dinner, and the hard work of the lidar team at Arrival Heights. It’s certainly an unforgettable one!

Excited by the preliminary results of our 24-48 hours of continuous lidar data, the lidar team members were determined to collect more data while optimizing the lidar system during the Christmas weekend from Friday 12/24/2010 to Monday morning 12/27/2010. Everyone contributed significantly, and I tuned my schedule to work with the winter-over PhD student Zhibin Yu in the lidar operations. This provides us more opportunities to go through the lidar principles, technologies, and in particular the Fe Boltzmann lidar system in more details. I’m very delighted that Zhibin is making significant progress. In the meantime, we utilize short group meetings to discuss issues occurred during the lidar operations and optimization so that students and research scientist can learn more about lidar, and we can update the lidar operation procedure and check list to make them more suitable for the new environment. Continue reading 6th week at McMurdo, Antarctica: Christmas on Ice

5th week at McMurdo, Antarctica: Happy Solstice! »

by xinzhao | posted: December 22nd, 2010

December 22, 2010 was a summer solstice in Antarctica but a winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere.

I am very happy to announce that we successfully obtained both channels (372 and 374 nm) of lidar data with the Fe Boltzmann lidar from Arrival Heights, McMurdo in Antarctica on December 20th, 2010. And the lidar operation lasted for 48 hours across the summer solstice point (0:48 UTC on December 22, 2010). This is another milestone of the lidar project, although there is still a long way to go to optimize the system. Continue reading 5th week at McMurdo, Antarctica: Happy Solstice!

4th week at McMurdo, Antarctica: First lidar light off Arrival Heights »

by xinzhao | posted: December 22nd, 2010

Dear Friends and Colleagues,
The 4th week (December 4-16th, 2010) was long and dramatic for the A-130 lidar team because we went through hell to reach the heavens!!!

First, what happened in the heavens?

I am very happy to announce that we obtained the first Fe signals (372 nm) from Arrival Heights on December 16, 2010. It was at 1:50am UT, and the layer’s peak was at 96 km – quite high, indicating PMC heterogeneous removal effect! Although there is still a long way to go, the first light is a milestone for the lidar project! Continue reading 4th week at McMurdo, Antarctica: First lidar light off Arrival Heights

3rd week at McMurdo, Antarctica: assembling the lidar »

by xinzhao | posted: December 21st, 2010

Dear Friends and Colleagues,
The 3rd week on ice was extremely busy so this post will be short as I need to get up earlier tomorrow morning to deal with many things. Despite quite a lot of frustration, the important progress we made included:

  • All lidar boxes were finally moved into the Arrival Heights Kiwi’s laboratory on December 1st, 2010;
  • two power consoles were fixed and powered up successfully, including the seawater-moisture damaged one;
  • the 372-nm laser was successfully up running at our first try to fire it up;
  • and the overall structure of lidar setup emerged.

Continue reading 3rd week at McMurdo, Antarctica: assembling the lidar

An unfortunate challenge and some creative solutions »

by xinzhao | posted: November 30th, 2010

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Happy thanksgiving from McMurdo, Antarctica, although a few days late!

What a busy and tough week we had on the ice! Construction, moving, unpacking and installation become so difficult in this cold world! Seawater-moisture, damaged power console and broken frames were the subject of this week, but at the end victory smiled upon us!

Continue reading An unfortunate challenge and some creative solutions

Warm greetings from McMurdo, Antarctica! »

by xinzhao | posted: November 24th, 2010

Once again I am on the ice. It is my 5th trip to the Antarctic, and also the beginning of our new lidar campaign at the USAP (United States Antarctic Program) McMurdo Station (77.85S, 166.67E). The purpose is to complete an observational chain for Antarctica in combination with previous lidar measurements made at the South Pole (90S) and Rothera (67.5S, 68.0W), Antarctica. Continue reading Warm greetings from McMurdo, Antarctica!