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Author: Sue

Date: 4 June 2013

Temperature: -25 degrees C

Wind Speed: 10 knots

Temperature with wind chill: -38 degrees C

Sunrise: n/a

Sunset: n/a

 

It's natural that when a small group of people live together in close quarters in a harsh environment and a remote location such as Antarctica, a strong camaraderie develops and a bit of a deal is made when there's something to celebrate … and of course birthdays are one of those things.

This week marks the anniversary of Captain Scott's birthday – he celebrated his 43rd, and what was to be his last, birthday at Terra Nova hut on 6 June 1911. He wrote: 'It is my birthday, a fact I might easily have forgotten, but my kind people did not … an immense birthday cake made its appearance and we were photographed assembled about it. Clissold had decorated its sugared top with various devices in chocolate and crystallised fruit, flags and photographs of myself'. Scott goes on to describe how, later, they all sat down to a sumptuous spread of: 'Clissold's especially excellent seal soup, roast mutton and red currant jelly, fruit salad, asparagus and chocolate—such was our menu'. 

 

Click here to see a picture of Scott's birthday celebration http://www.spri.cam.ac.uk/library/pictures/catalogue/article/p2005.5.438/ 

 

Here at Scott Base, Becky our winter base leader, recently celebrated her birthday and asked for something a little more low key, forgoing the seal (!!) in favour of some simple fish 'n' chips out of newspaper in the bar with a screening of the Australian movie The Castle. Damian our cook topped it off with a totally OTT igloo-shaped dark-chocolate rum cake covered with white-chocolate drops, and filled with layer upon layer of chocolate cream ... a creation of which I'm sure Clissold would have approved!

 

Scott's Birthday.JPG

Birthday celebrations at Scott Base

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Author: Jane

 

Date: 16/03/11

Temperature: -25°C

Wind Speed: 15 knots

Temp with wind chill: -35°C

Sunrise: 07:08

Sunset: 20:53

 

 

We have had the rare pleasure of open water in front of the base for a few weeks now. The open water has attracted a range of wildlife that would not always be seen here. The curious emperor penguins that Sarah described, lots of little Adélies, Weddell seals and even whales. It was quite an experience to look up from the Scott Base dining room table and see a pod of Mike whales swimming past!

Image 1.jpg

Whale swimming near the pressure ridges in front of Scott Base © AHT/Jane


The temperature is beginning to drop now and we seem to be steadily hitting -20°C and lower. The sea has been freezing over nearly every day, but then it has either washed out into McMurdo Sound or melted up until now. On Monday the sea in front of the base froze over and it looks like it is going to stay frozen this time. A whale managed to pop its head up for a moment in a melt pool yesterday, but unfortunately I think this may be the last we see of them for a few more years. Three Adélies were seen running towards Cape Armitage early this morning.


The penguin exodus and the ever shortening days seem to herald the beginning of winter and the wonderful sunrises and sunsets that it brings.

Image 2.jpg
Sea ice forming in front of the summer labs © AHT/Jane

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Posted by Jamie on 4 January 2011

 

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The British Antarctic (Terra Nova) Expedition (1910-1913) seal  © AHT / Jamie

 

Today marks one hundred years since the landing of Captain Robert Falcon Scott and his 30 men (six of whom were destined for Cape Adare as the ‘northern party‘), on the ship Terra Nova at Cape Evans.  In the coming weeks the ‘Terra Nova’ hut was erected in anticipation of various scientific endeavors for the coming year and ultimately attainment of the South Pole (some 30 odd days behind the Norwegian Amundsen).

 

Whilst there were no big celebrations planned for today (4/1/2011) there was a definite sense of occasion as we set off for work on Scott's hut, still standing tall, after one hundred years on the harshest continent on earth. It was the usual work around the hut, finishing off re-cladding the roof, repairing the stables and treating various atrefacts (currently Oates bed frame).


As we worked through the evening an Emperor penguin approached us across the fractured sea-ice, coming right up to the hut within arm’s reach. As we watched intently it carried on its exploration of the huts perimeter. Up close they truly are an impressive creature. Astonishingly large in stature both high and wide, their size enormous in comparison to their adelie cousins, the colour of their coats so stunning you could gaze at them for hours. It was certainly a moment to remember as well as a stark contrast (beyond the obvious) to Scott’s taxidermy penguin at his study table.

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Emperor penguin © AHT / Jamie

 

Penguin on table.jpg
Penquin on table at Scott's hut © AHT


After dinner I went for a walk to view the world from the lookout towards Inaccessible Island, managing to avoid the familiar attack by nesting skua.  Ahead in the distance, open water with groups of seals and penguins surrounding the water and an iceberg, as the Trans Antarctic ranges provide inspirational backdrop. As the snow began to fall lightly it became as serene as ever and I imagined a group of men frantically unloading the ship to spend over a year isolated from the rest of the world with aspirations of conquering the last frontier on earth. Whichever way you think about it the determination of those men was second to none, the stories of their hardships dressed down in diaries as only small hurdles.

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Water's edge © AHT


To end the day I had a walk around the hut as per usual. As described by Sir David Attenborough “It is a time warp without parallel”. Also a pretty cool way to wind down as this landmark day draws to an end.    

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The Tenements 1911 © Herbert Ponting, Antarctica NZ Pictorial Collection

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Author:          Diana

 

Date:             January 13, 2011
Temperature: -1 to -2 degrees celcius
Wind Speed: 15 knots (20-30 knott gusts)
Temp with wind chill: -roughly -8c
Sunrise: Sun is up all the time

 

There are no naturally occurring sources of fuel for heating or cooking available in Antarctica. It has therefore always been necessary to bring some source of fuel. Today we use LPG (propane) and furnace oil for heating and cooking. They come to Antarctica with the container ship in February every year.


During the Heroic Era of Antarctic discovery, coal and coal Bricketts as well as paraffin were brought down, but they also used something more local – seal blubber (fat). It was not as effective a heat source and left a sooty layer from its smoke but worked just the same.  See this image of Meares and Oates at the blubber stove, cooking food for the dogs, May 26th 1911.

 

The Ross Sea Party, stranded from their ship the Aurora when she broke free of her anchors in 1914-15, used primarily blubber for heating and cooking. There remains a pile of seal blubber at Cape Evans from this group. With the restoration work going on it was best to cover the pile but this week the table-like cover was removed. The surface was cleaned by picking the bits of scoria gravel, feathers and dust off.  A retaining dam was constructed around the pile of blubber to keep it intact. It is an amazing site and the aroma is quite distinctive.

Blubber pile resized.jpg

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Posted by Diana


Date: November 12, 2010
Temperature: 0 degrees celcius
Wind Speed: none
Temp with wind chill:
Sunrise: The sun is up
Sunset: The sun does not go down


We have been working at Captain RF Scott’s Terra Nova hut at Cape Evans, Ross Island for two weeks. While onsite we live in a camp not far from the hut with views of Mt Erebus and the Barn Glacier.

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Dive hut with Erebus is the background © AHT/ Diana

 

Located close to our campsite is an American scientific event dive hut . A heated wanigan covers a diving hole which has been drilled into the ice.  You can see to the bottom 85 feet below, with krill and other small water creatures swimming round in the hole – a wonderful place to visit. This evening I walked across the sea ice from our camp on land to the hut. The snow has been blown off and the amazing warm weather and blazing sun have made the ice is so slippery you can almost skate with your boots.

 

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Inside the dive hut © AHT/ Diana

 

I was in the hut with Stu, one of the Antarctic Field Trainers from Scott Base, watching the marine life and thinking wouldn’t it be fun if a seal swam by when one appeared – it was barreling towards the hole till it saw us and then it made a big “U” turn. We were completely startled as she came so quickly and then swam by, a beautiful dappled grey form sliding by the hole.

0

Posted by Cricket


Date: 16 September 2010
Temperature: -20C
Wind Speed: 0 knots
Temp with wind chill: -20C
Sunrise: 7:26am
Sunset: 6:15pm

 

Last night after work we took a walk following a flagged route around the pressure ridges.  Pressure ridges are ice formations, common to sea ice in the winter.  In essence, they form when two floes are forced together causing large sections to break off and uplift.  The ridge in front of Scott Base forms when the Ross Sea Ice Shelf pushes up against the stationary sea ice, which is locked in place against the shore.

Pressure Ridge.jpg

Pressure ridges © AHT/Cricket


Visually, pressure ridges are dramatic and sculptural.  In the evening light they are particularly stunning, reflecting pinks and oranges while showing off their different shades of blue.  Before coming down to the ice, an artist who worked here alerted me that one rarely sees pure white in Antarctica. And now, seeing the landscape for myself, it’s amazingly true.

Seal w Mt Erebus.jpg

Seal with Mt. Erebus © AHT/Cricket


The route we followed took us out across the sea ice and up and over the ridge to the Ross Sea Ice Shelf.  Along the back side of the ridge, as we were about to head back over, we sighted a huge grey-brown ball in the near distance. “A seal!” Diana yelled.  We stood silent, watching it lounge about for a while, and trying to find a crack where it might have come up from.  We were later told that seals litter the ice during the summer, and a sighting means they are just now returning for the season.