Confessions of a glaciology PhD student

Amusing excerpts from the diary of second-year glaciology PhD student

I have come to the end of the second year of my PhD this January. It’s been a great year, and I have been recording a lot of it in my work diary. For nostalgia’s sake, and to celebrate the calamities and bizarre situations experienced, I thought I would share some of my more humorous diary snippits from the past year.

Wednesday 22nd April 2015
‘It’s been a day of procrastination. Not much work done. I think it started when my Matlab script wouldn’t work – “Matrix dimensions must agree”… but they do agree?!?!’

Friday 31st July 2015
[In Svalbard] ‘So today went well – I reprogrammed the camera timers, accommodated for the irregular trigger cable, and also made a new camera box eyebrow… out of an ice cream tub.’

Wednesday 5th August 2015
[In Svalbard] ‘Today we packed up the boat and sailed over to Tunabreen. We got there around midday after a rocky patch which left me bed bound, eyes tight shut and concentrating on not being sick. We got there quite early and knew we would have a lot of daylight so set off to the glacier to begin scouting sites for the strain meters. It took us ages to find a suitable site as the crevasse field stretched much further upglacier than expected. Once we found a site, we drilled a marker pole so we could find it again and fashioned a flag out of my long-johns. They looked magnificent.’

The Viking Explorer moored in a calm area of Tempelfjorden, Svalbard (August, 2016)

The Viking Explorer moored in a calm area of Tempelfjorden, Svalbard (August, 2016). The infamous long-john flag still flies on Tunabreen to this day as a sacrifice to the glacial gods. Photo credit: Nick Hulton

Monday 18th August 2015
[In Svalbard] ‘Got to Tempelfjorden, went to take water samples with Kristin, lost her secchi disk in the fjord. Fan-bloody-tastic.’

Wednesday 2nd September 2015
[In Svalbard] ‘Back from a big day on Kronebreen. All the cameras were still there, a fox chewed through only one of the cables, and we spotted a herd of polar bears/arctic foxes/arctic hares (yes, in that order of suspects) which turned out to be ptarmigans after thorough investigation.’

Thursday 3rd September 2015
[In Svalbard] ‘We changed the SD card in camera 2 today, which I’d switched timers to take one photo every three seconds. It was very adrenaline pumping as I had to run out of the helicopter [whilst the rotor blades were still spinning] and change the SD card as quickly as possible. My heart was pounding and I kept thinking “Time means money. BE QUICK.” I ran back to the helicopter in good time to find our pilots taking a selfie. They obviously weren’t as concerned.’

Wednesday 23rd September 2015
[In Svalbard] ‘Today has been good. Very productive. I think I have got my [AG-347/847] practical exercise sorted. I managed to resolve the problem with DEM importing – if I ever read this diary back looking for this info, remember that Pointcatcher needs cartesian coordinates. CARTESIAN, GOD DAMMIT.

Me at camera site 8b, Kronebreen, Svalbard (May 2015)

Me at camera site 8b, Kronebreen, Svalbard (May 2015). Photo credit: Heidi Sevestre

Thursday 8th October 2015
‘I have Taylor Swift to thank for my productivity today.’

Wednesday 4th November 2015
‘Today I worked on some more Python code – the script can now change image filenames to the EXIF timestamp… ish… well… it can nearly do that.’