Saturday, January 23, 2010

Busy at Alexandra Fjord


The past two days have been pretty exciting, so rather than trying to write one giant post, I’ll split up the stories across 3 posts. Today has been my first chance to sit down and write about these things, mainly due to a lack of time, but the on-going electricity situation has also contributed.

It’s quite an odd feeling to be frequently concerned about one’s electricity supply – we take it so much for granted most of the time. Here at Alexandra Fjord, there are two ways to get electricity for one’s devices; typically we use the power we have to charge batteries for various electronics like laptop computers and digital cameras. First, we have a few generators. These are used to power scientific instruments, such as the FTIR at various field sites, and Katherine’s Gas Chromatograph (GC) in the lab at base camp. When a generator is running, other devices can be plugged in – under most circumstances we’d be hard-pressed to push these generators beyond their idle power output. Second, there is a photovoltaic (PV) system – solar power – connected to the household wiring system of the base camp buildings. The PV system is complicated and idiosyncratic, and is based entirely on the mind of Dr. Greg Henry: he designed it, bought and shipped the parts, assembled it, and knows its limitations. The rest of us just sort of guess. For example, right now I’m running my laptop computer off of this system, and I’m actually trying to drain the batteries a little bit because we think the batteries may be overcharged right now. I know very little about such things, but at least this way I don’t have to wait until Katherine wants to run her GC before I can recharge my camera’s battery.

Speaking of my camera, here’s a picture of CCGS Henry Larson just offshore of our base camp, taken yesterday.

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