Fieldwork Campaign on the Island of South Georgia

February 2013





Figure 1. (right)  A usual scene in South Georgia.

I would like to thank the Royal Meteorological Society for providing funding for me to take part in a fieldwork campaign at King Edward Point, South Georgia, in January/February 2013.
The funding from the Royal Meteorological Society’s Legacies Fund allowed me to take part in a one month intensive field campaign on the small sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia. I had been invited by a small group of scientists from the National Centre of Atmospheric Sciences (University of Leeds) to join them in the collection of meteorological data on South Georgia. The aim of the project was to make measurements of the hazardous meteorological conditions common at King Edward Point, including gravity waves and turbulence. We also aimed to provide operationally accurate forecasts of hazardous conditions through the use of the WRF (Weather Research and Forecast) model, a state-of-the-art forecast model.

This was my first experience of a scientific field campaign, and I cannot emphasise enough how exciting it was to take part in it. Waking up on my birthday to hundreds of penguins, seals and albatross was certainly a thrilling experience. And the scenery of South Georgia makes it the most beautiful place to undertake fieldwork. Since we were investigating hazardous weather conditions, launching balloons during strong wind events was certainly entertaining, and the King Edward Point British Antarctic Survey base members thought so too!


Figure 2. Launching a weather balloon during calm conditions.

My main involvement in the field campaign was the launching of daily radionsondes. This was my first experience at releasing weather balloons, so filling them with helium in a metal shipping container in wind speeds of >12m/s certainly taught me a thing or two. The project also involved the first full deployment of a UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle), and various measurements from a LIDAR. During our time on the island, we were able to conduct three intensive observation periods. During these days, we were releasing radiosondes every three hours, and were able to collect invaluable data on the local meteorology of King Edward Point. I intend to contribute further to the data analysis, which will form chapters of my thesis and several journal article publications.

As a consequence of this fieldwork, my intellectual abilities and techniques to do successful research have greatly improved, not only by undertaking measurements necessary for my research, but also learning about the equipment behind the measurements. This will be of great benefit in any future research I undertake. This fieldwork has developed my skills by improving my intellectual abilities and techniques to do research. My PhD research programme was initially envisioned by me and my supervisors as being purely model- and data analysis based. Ultimately, the fieldwork greatly developed my ability to undertake effective and efficient data collection and research. I also gained first-hand experience of the South Georgia area, and the data collected will contribute significantly to my studies.

I am very grateful to the Royal Meteorological Society for providing me with this wonderful opportunity. I would also like to thank NCAS for inviting me on the fieldwork as well as my supervisors, John King and Ian Renfrew. My thanks also go to all the BAS base members at King Edward Point for making it an experience I will never forget.