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ITP28 Deployment Operations

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Before the helicopter lands on unexplored ice, a visual landing survey is performed in order to estimate the ice thickness.  The helicopter hovers at an altitude of roughly 20 feet, and a rubber tire is thrown out the door to assist the pilot with visibility during landing.  Once on the ice, the ice observer uses a 2" stainless steel ice auger and drills multiple holes in the ice to confirm ice thickness: first to make sure that it is safe for the helicopter to park and turn off its engines, and secondly to determine that the floe is satisfactory thickness for the ITP deployment. (Photo by Kris Newhall)

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Just prior to performing a test of the inductive modem network before the profiler is lowered through the ice hole, Jeff Pietro steadies the ITP profiler, while Kris Newhall attaches the inductive modem clamp assisted by Sergey Unovidov.

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Newhall and Pietro stand next to the deployed ITP system while the other deployment team members warm inside the modified sled snack hut.  Depending on other helicopter operations, it could take as long as 4-6 hours before the deployment team would be retrieved after the deployment. (Photo by Sergey Unovidov)

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At the end of the deployment, ice observer Anatoli (left), Pietro (center), and other scientists use the Iridium satellite phone to call the ship and arrange for transfer back to the ship by helicopter. (Photo by Kris Newhall)

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Back on board the Federov after a long day of operations, the helicopter is prepared for the following day operations. (Photo by Jeff Pietro)

Less than a day after the first ITP deployment from the Federov in 2008, the next ITP (number 28) deployment began.  The ice in the area was mostly first year and required an extensive helicopter survey in order to find a multi-year flow suitable for the deployment.  As a result, the chosen floe was miles away from the pre-selected ITP deployment location and the ship.

When a potential floe was chosen by Anatoli the ice observer, and experienced helicopter pilots, the door of the helicopter was abruptly opened and the ice observer assisted the pilots to a safe and secure landing on the chosen flow using a wireless communications system.  Once on the ice, the floe was drilled and found to be over 1.5 m so acceptable for the deployment.  Operations took longer than expected because of the extremely cold temperatures coupled with a 25 knot wind, causing the wind chill factor to be less than -20°C.  A modified sled hut was assembled and used as a snack hut to provide a small amount of shelter from the wind, and stocked with tea/coffee, cheese and crackers, and Russian chocolates to provide energy for the deployment team.

Once the deployment was complete and clean-up was underway, the ship was called using an Iridium telephone to recover the science team.  During the several hour deployment operations the ice drifted significantly, so that updated GPS coordinates needed to be passed to the pilots in order to relocate the deployment team.

Last updated: September 21, 2017

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