Dear Friends and Colleagues,

The lidar legend in Antarctica will be continued by our outstanding students from CU-Boulder! This great news makes my flight back home today a pleasant journey!

Our official photo of the 2012-2013 summer lidar crew (from left to right): Weichun Fong, Xinzhao, and Cao Chen. To impress Xian that McMurdo could be sometimes warmer than Boulder, we purposely didn’t wear the official red parka.

Since the start of the McMurdo lidar campaign in late 2010, many students and researchers have participated and made great contributions. Our lidar observations at McMurdo are full diurnal coverage through all 12 months of a year, including both summer and winter. To achieve such a goal, a ‘winter-over’ lidar scientist must stay through the Antarctic winter to run the lidar. Zhibin Yu became the first winter-over lidar student in 2011, and Brendan Roberts was the 2nd winter-over engineer in 2012. Today our PhD students, Weichun Fong and Cao Chen, are finally PQed for winter 2013! Weichun will stay through the dark Antarctic winter this year as our 3rd winter-over lidar scientist, and Cao will go for winter 2014!

Inside the lidar lab at Arrival Heights, Cao and Weichun are confident about the lidar system at the end of my visit, because we have tuned the lidar to its best performance.

After the ice stock celebration on the New Year’s Eve, our new year 2013 at McMurdo started with a completely clear and blue sky at 8:20am in the morning. I rushed to Arrival Heights and turned on the lidar for data, as I didn’t want to wake up the students — they deserve a good sleep after so many days of hard work. But Weichun and Cao came just half hour later, and they were great in fine steering the beams for the highest lidar returns. The lidar ran beautifully and we were excited by the gorgeous data containing another extreme Fe event on January 1st, 2013!

Weichun on the roof of the lidar observatory — the winter-over lidar student for 2013!

Through working with them in the last three and half weeks at McMurdo, I have got to know both students even better, and I am very confident to say that they both are excellent lidar students! After three and half weeks of hard work, both lidar channels have been optimized to their best performance, and we have achieved the highest signals around mid-January, 2013 among the last 2.5 summers. Weichun is more than ever knowing the lidar, especially the laser system very well. I’m sure that he will try his best to get us the best ever data! Cao has also impressed me very much at the end of the trip, and I believe he will be an outstanding winter-over student in 2014!

Panorama to the south of Arrival Heights lidar building taken by Elaine
A skua bird at the Hut Point Ridge
An Adelie penguin with a white circle around its eye near the Hut Point — the only penguin I saw this season
We have seen many seals as shown in this photo — they are waiting at an ice crack
A Weddell seal closeup

Flying out with the Nobel Laureate Sir Paul Nurse on January 16, 2013 and chatting with him during the flight was a great honor to me. Dr. Nurse won the 2001 Nobel Prize in physiology and knighted by the British Queen in 2001, I believe. AntNZ science manager Dr. Ed Butler and AntNZ scientist Dr. Adrian McDonald brought him and other Distinguished Visitors (DVs) to Arrival Heights on January 14th, and our student Cao Chen gave them an excellent introduction of the lidar project.

A Terra Bus we took to go to the Pegasus Airport on the McMurdo ice shell. The bus was towed on a “magic carpet” because the ice is so soft this year — dirts blown from the Black Island help melt the ice.
A mountain among the Trans-Antarctic mountains seen during our flight out of the ice
The Antarctic mountains, sea ice, and open water between McMurdo and New Zealand

We are very grateful to many people for their support through the project. Besides some descriptions in the last two years of my journey reports, I’d like to add a few more examples: Adrian and Dominique hand-carried in parts for us, Richard Dean taught us the fittings for water system, and Dr. John Walling and his colleagues at Light Age, Inc. gave us support as always. With great support and collaboration, the legend of lidar will continue in Antarctica.

Looking forward to a very successful winter 2013 by Weichun Fong! 
Many new data and new discoveries from Arrival Heights lidar!


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