Day 3: Thickness Measurements

Day 3 was spent with Jackie Richter-Menge learning how to make snow and ice thickness measurements. We were lucky that the recalcitrant EM31 had started to work again; ‘lucky’ given that the first two groups still took the instrument out just to get a feel for using the EM31 even though no data was logged. Jackie had us put the Magna Probe and EM31 together in the Theatre beforehand (no sense spending more time out in the cold than required). After assembling the instruments, we walked them out onto the ice.

The next order of business was to set up a straight line along which to take measurements. Jackie showed us how to do this using nothing more than a thickness tape, 3 stakes, and a pair of eyes. But the strong winds made this task more difficult. The tape kept curving away from us and snagging on chunks of ice. After struggling with the wind, we managed to set up a straight 200 m line. This line would guide our measurements.

Jinlun volunteered to wear the EM31 first, which appears below as the instrument shown with long white arms. It was a awkward to carry. But each of us patiently bore it out for an easy 50 m stretch, then handed it off to someone else on our team. We could only imagine what it must be like to do a 9 km line (!) in the winter time on one’s own–something that Jackie has done in the past.

We all took turns with each of the instruments. One person would handle the EM31, another would take measures with the Magna Probe, a third person would take notes on surface conditions alongside Magna Probe measures, and a fourth would drill holes with a hand auger to get ice thickness that the EM31 measures could be checked against.

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“Now back up, Jinlun… Don’t hit the stake…”

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