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People exit plane sitting on ice.
Photo Credit: Cara Sucher
 

Ready for business

Summer season begins at USAP's McMurdo Station

Picture of snow-covered mountain out of window.
Photo Credit: Cara Sucher
Mount Erebus seen from the Airbus A319.
TVs show map of Antarctica.
Photo Credit: Cara Sucher
Airplane monitors show passengers their final destination — Antarctica.

An Australian Antarctic Division External Non-U.S. government site Airbus A319 landed at McMurdo Station External U.S. government site on Sept. 23, officially kicking off the summer field season for the U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP) External U.S. government site. The USAP chartered the commercial flight, which made its first visit to the Ice during the 2007-08 field season. The flight took about five hours from Christchurch, New Zealand, and carried 49 passengers. Most support flights from Christchurch are made by the U.S. Air Force from Joint Base Lewis-McChord External U.S. government site out of Washington State using the C-17 Globemaster III. A second Airbus A319 arrived Sept. 28 after three days of weather delays, along with a C-17. The Antarctic summer field season lasts from October to February. This year promises to be one of the biggest field campaigns in recent memory. Several science teams arrived during Winfly in August for atmospheric studies, as well as research on seal behavior in the winter. [See related article: Ramping up] Summer field camps will again include WAIS Divide in West Antarctica, site of a deep ice core project External Non-U.S. government site; CTAM, for Central Transantarctic Mountains, a single-season large camp focused on fossil collection, geology and paleo reconstructions of the ice sheet; and the Pine Island Glacier (PIG) camp in far West Antarctica, a helicopter camp to be established this season in anticipation of a two-year project External Non-U.S. government site to study the interaction of water and ice on the underbelly of the heavily crevassed PIG ice shelf.

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Curator: Peter Rejcek, Antarctic Support Contract | NSF Official: Winifred Reuning, Division of Polar Programs