Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions (ALE) acts as a contractor to provide flight and logistic support to National Antarctic Programs and other peer-reviewed research projects. Some projects we have supported are described below.
Belgrano II Station Airdrop and Personnel Exchange
For the past several seasons, ALE has provided intercontinental and feeder flights for the annual personnel rotation to/from Argentina’s Belgrano II station. Twenty workers were flown by Ilyushin 76-TD aircraft from Ushuaia, Argentina, to Union Glacier, then on to Belgrano II by Basler BT-67. The 20 overwintering crew returned to Ushuaia by the same route.
In February 2014 ALE undertook a major air drop of approximately 166 tonnes of food, fuel and equipment, to resupply Belgrano station for a year. The aircraft made a total of nine, 3700 mile (6000 km) round-trip flights, each delivering about 17 tonnes of cargo. ALE hired an expert crew from the Russian Rescue Center in Moscow to carry out the contract with our IL-76,with an ALE ground crew providing assistance and collecting the loads and platforms.
Sub-Glacial Lake Ellsworth Project
This UK project, involving the British Antarctic Survey, the National Oceanography Centre and several Universities, aimed to access Lake Ellsworth using a specially-engineered hot-water drill through 3 km of ice and, using the hole created, to look for life in the lake and acquire records of past ice and climate change.
ALE was part of a full proposal to explore the lake and was subsequently named as the primary logistics provider for this major scientific undertaking. ALE flew nearly 70 tonnes of equipment to our base camp at Union Glacier then transported it all to the drill site, some 295km away, using our tractor train capability.
ALE has provided flight and landing support for Twin Otter and C-130 Hercules aircraft, as well as meals and accommodation for flight crews and field staff involved with the United States Antarctic Program’s POLENET project. www.polenet.org
Criosfera 1 is a Brazilian standalone module for atmospheric data collection, prepared at the National Institute for Space Research (Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais – INPE) for the Brazilian Antarctic Program. The module was flown to Union Glacier by ALE’s Ilyushin 76, then transported 255 nm (472 km) by ALE tractor-train to it’s final location at 84°S 79°30′W.
Centro de Estudios Científicos
ALE has supported several projects by the Centro de Estudios Científicos (Center for Scientific Studies, Valdivia, Chile), including involvement in the Lake Ellsworth Project and glacier flow rate and bedrock studies at Union Glacier. CECS first accompanied the Chilean Army traverse to the South Pole in 2004 and subsequently surveyed routes from Patriot Hills to Lake Ellsworth and from Union Glacier to Lake Ellsworth drilling site. CECS is part of the Lake Ellsworth Consortium. www.cecs.cl/website/
CECS have been invaluable in undertaking GPR surveys of the Patriot Hills to Union Glacier route and of Union Glacier itself. They have worked closely with ALE commissioned land surveyors to make surveys of Union Glacier ice runway.
University of New South Wales
Researchers from the University New South Wales and University of Exeter conducted fieldwork in the Union Glacier and Patriot Hills areas during the 2010 and 2012 seasons. ALE provided flights, base camp facilities, snowmobiles and fuel, and field guide support.
2010 fieldwork focused on changes in ice sheet dynamics, using mountains protruding through the ice sheet as dipsticks of past changes in thickness and volume. In 2012 the team collected surface samples and shallow ice cores from the blue-ice at Patriot Hills. The results of their fieldwork will help contextualize recent glacial changes of the WAIS as a result of climate change and will inform our understanding of the region’s long-term climate.
Estación Polar Científica Conjunta Glaciar Unión
In January 2014, Chilean President Sebastián Piñera inaugurated the new Chilean Station, Estación Polar Científica Conjunta Glaciar Unión. ALE provided support throughout the project, including intercontinental flights for cargo and personnel, airfield support for FACh C-130 and Twin Otter aircraft, accommodation, and assistance dismantling the old Estación Polar Arturo Parodi at Patriot Hills and transporting the modules to Union Glacier via ALE tractor train. We look forward to ongoing cooperation with the new Chilean base.