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Antarctic conservation

64 Posts tagged with the scott-base tag
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Hi, It's TV's Ben Fogle here.

 

I'm in Antarctica working on a documentary about Captain Scott. It's been a fantastic trip so far. I'm living with the Antarctic Heritage Trust conservation team at Cape Evans, the site of Captain Scott's last expedition base. A few days ago I helped Diana, Cricket and Lizzie load up the 1500 objects conserved at Scott Base over the winter and a hagglund (tracked vehicle) brought the vast array of objects out over the sea ice. A long slow and delicate operation. These arrived safely and the team have been busy repopulating the building with the objects.

Ben for Blog.jpg

 

I have been struck with the atmosphere, presence and history at Cape Evans. The place has a unique smell which is not unpleasant. It's a mix of seal blubber, old food, leather and textiles. The classic images of Herbert Ponting coupled with the evocative diary entries of Scott's expedition members really bring this place to life.

 

The dedication of the Trust staff in this challenging environment is inspiring to witness. I'm hopeful we can do this magnificent place justice in the documentary.

 

Ben Fogle

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Scott Base weather

Posted by Cricket and Diana Nov 2, 2010

Posted by Diana


Date: November 3, 2010
Temperature: -15.4
Wind Speed: 12 knots with gust to 30 knots
Temp with wind chill:
Sunrise: The sun is up all the time
Sunset


Here in Antarctica the weather is very important, as it was when Captain RF Scott and his men were at Cape Evans. Back in 1912 the readings were all taken using manual instruments, as can be seen in this image of Dr. Simpson taking the weather at Wind Vane Hill.

 

Today we have an electronic system which monitors actual wind speed and temperature as well as recording it on a chart. This is in the weather area of the Hatherton laboratory at New Zealand’s Scott Base.

 

SB Electronic Weather.jpg
Hatherton Laboratory ©   AHT/Diana


During a big storm the needle on the wind speed meter can jump up 50 knots, or sometimes more. There is also a graph which continually records data. Some mornings, if it was windy through the night, I go up to the Hatherton Lab to see how strong the wind was. Last night we had gusts over 50 knots. There was a white out when I happened to wake up and look out at 3 am. Thankfully the wind died down as today was the day we packed to head out to Cape Evans.  More on that to come.

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Posted by Cricket

 

Date: 20 October 2010
Temperature: -23C
Wind Speed: 5 knots
Temp with wind chill: -26C
Sunrise: 3:24am (!!!)
Sunset: 12:07am (!!!!)

 

Shortly after the arrival of the new summer base staff, a week of daily and sometimes twice-daily fire drills began.  When a fire alarm sounded, the protocol for those of us not on fire crew duty was to hurry to the flag pole to get checked off the roster and then assembled in the historic TAE/IGY hut until we were cleared to go back to work.  The drills allowed us time to admire the interior of the first building at Scott Base, which has been preserved and maintained for the public.  It includes much of the old equipment and fixtures as well as displays of early clothing, food stuff and even a big metal bathtub.

TAE.jpg

TAE/IGY hut © Cricket/AHT

 

The history of the TAE/IGY hut and the original complex at Scott Base is interesting.  The idea began in 1953 when the British announced the beginning of the International Geophysical Year program and their intent to cross Antarctica.  Such a polar crossing required support bases on opposite ends of the continent, one in the Weddell Sea and the other in the Ross Sea.  Dr. Vivian Fuchs, the leader of the trans-Antarctic expedition, selected the already famous Sir Edmund Hillary to head the Ross Sea group and construct Scott Base.


The four-room TAE/IGY hut was completed in 10 days on January 20, 1957 and was the first of six interconnected buildings.  It was the most important building in the complex because it housed the galley, radio room and served as Hillary’s office and bunkroom.  Originally called the ‘A’ Hut, it was renamed to its current name in 2001 to reflect its original purpose of the Trans-Antarctic Expedition (TAE) and International Geophysical Year program (IGY).  At that time it was also officially registered under the Antarctic Treaty as a historic monument.

Interior.jpg

Panorama of the interior © Cricket/AHT

 

One on my favorite features, and this is likely influenced by the reason for our visit, is the fire escape hatch.  The hatch is a small red square door near the top of one wall with an industrial refrigerator door latch.  After a week of throwing around reasons for what seems like an awkward and inconvenient design, our best guess was that it was placed high, rather than low near the ground, to allow egress without obstruction from potential snow drifts. We wondered, though, why so small, how would you get up there quickly (there was no ladder) and, if there were no snow drifts outside, would you get hurt diving through?

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Posted by Diana

 

Date:                August 31, 2010
Sunrise:           9:36am
Sunset:           4:15pm
Temperature: -31.1 degrees C
Wind Speed: 0
Temp with wind chill: -31.1 degrees C

 

Cricket and I had our driving test this week, our introduction to the conditions and hazards associated with driving at Scott Base, Antarctica.

Transportation has changed a lot since the days of the early explorers. Until the late ’80s dogs were used for travel, however, snow machines and vehicles have taken over. Our instructor was Lex, the mechanic at Scott Base this year. Lex is an amazing mechanic as he can repair and modify diesel, petrol (gasoline) and two-stroke engines and hydraulics, all of which are in the fleet. He is a very busy man.

Lex beside Piston Bully by Diana.jpg

Lex beside Piston Bully, with snow mobiles © AHT/Diana

 

 

For the most part, when travelling between the American Base McMurdo and the Pegasus air strip, we use trucks modified for travel down here. The larger tyres are used because the standard snow tyre would wear out the road too quickly. The vehicles are all four wheel drive. The fuel used is also modified to withstand the low temperatures: the diesel vehicles use AN8, an aviation fuel containing Kerosene; the petrol (gas) equivalent is Mogas, it has reduced octane.

 

Land Cruiser by Diana (2).jpg

Land Cruiser © AHT/Diana

 

The vehicles all have block heaters to keep the oil and lubricants flowing when not running and in-cab heaters, these are activated when the vehicle is plugged in. At McMurdo there are several dedicated plug-in places just for Kiwi’s. We also have a “hitching rail” here at Scott Base for plugging in.


To be continued

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