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Antarctic conservation

34 Posts tagged with the scott tag
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Winter Routines

Posted by Conservators Apr 23, 2013

Author: Sue

Date: 17 April 2013

Temperature: -32 degrees

Wind Speed: 20 knots

Temperature with wind chill: -50 degrees

Sunrise: 10.19am

Sunset: 3.34pm

 

When the AHT winter team arrived on the ice ten weeks ago we arrived to 24-hr daylight... and next week, already, we move into 24-hr darkness. It seems to have come around quickly, giving our internal body clocks little consistency upon which to establish reliable routines. Consequently, we are reliant on the clock, especially as we now rise and begin work in the dark. Many lights around Scott Base are now on 24/7, with power being generated largely by three wind turbines on a hill behind the base.

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An April day at Scott Base, from the wind farm

 

Not unexpectedly, our winter routine of rising, working, eating and enjoying some recreational activities in the evenings is not unlike that of the early explorers. But of course we live in a modern facility so many aspects are very different. Of days' end during the 1911 winter at Terra Nova hut Captain Scott recorded: "At 11pm the acetylene lights are put out, and those who wish to remain up or to read in bed must depend on candle-light. The majority of candles are extinguished by midnight, and the night watchman alone remains awake to keep his vigil by the light of an oil lamp."

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Historic candles from the "heroic era", Cape Royds

 

For us, each in a room of our own, "lights out" in the evenings is, of course, whenever we choose to flick the switch. And, with the ever present risk of fire, never do we light a candle... and we have 200+ smoke detectors, 200 fire extinguishers, 8 hydrants and an extensive water sprinkler system to protect the base. Further, thanks to sophisticated alarm and communication systems, there is never a need for someone to keep watch at night... unless perhaps it's in the hope of observing an aurora, and that's purely for reasons of fascination and awe!

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Author: Karen

Date: 2 December 2012

Temperature: -7°C

Wind Speed: 10 knots

Temperature with Wind Chill: -15°C

 

After over six years with the Trust as Administration Officer, I was given the opportunity to visit Antarctica to assist the team during a busy period.  I was both extremely excited and concerned at the same time, since I was told that the majority of my time involved camping in a tent at Cape Evans (the site of Captain Scott’s second expedition base).  Having never camped before, this was worrying, but I was not going to let that get in the way of such a remarkable opportunity.

I arrived at Cape Evans by Hagglund, it took approximately one and half hours from Scott Base.  Walking into Scott’s hut for the first time was very emotional: even after seeing thousands of photos, they did not prepare me for the feelings stirred.  When I stepped inside I immediately noticed a distinctive smell, it took a few seconds before I realised it was the blubber stack, (left behind by the Ross Sea Party) stored in the western annexe.  After over 100 years the smell was still extremely strong. It was like I’d been transported back in time and I was back in 1911, all was very real, in fact I was expecting to turn around and see Scott or one of the men from his party sitting at the wardroom table. 

Walking around Scott’s hut I found myself thinking how noisy it must have been with 25 men living in the hut when it was first built in January 1911, but today it was eerily quiet, all I could hear was the wind howling around outside.

 

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Stack of blubber in the Western annexe, Cape Evans

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Veiw of the Western annexe, Cape Evans

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Freezer Ingenuity

Posted by Conservators Dec 13, 2012

Author: Kevin

Date: 28 November 2012

Temperature: -4 degrees celcius, sunny and bright

Wind speed: 5 knots

 

We have now been at Cape Evans, the site of Captain Scott's Terra Nova hut for the last three weeks or so. Our daily work pattern is now well established. Morning meeting and radio schedule with Scott Base at 07.30am, then off to work until 11.00am when we stop for first lunch, then work again until 3.00pm when second lunch beckons. Final work period is over at 7.00pm with dinner at around 7.30pm.

 

We take it in turns to cook, so as there are only four of us on site, it comes around pretty quickly, with some people looking forward to it more than others, as spending your day digging out one hundred year old marrow fat lard from tins has been known to dampen the appetite!

 

Over the last week or so we have been lucky to have good weather with temperatures above -5 and lots of sunshine, giving us beautiful views of Mount Erebus and the Barne Glacier. Whilst this may seem good to those far away, it leaves us with a dilemma. We rely on snow banks for our fresh water and keeping our fresh food frozen. The fine weather sees the banks literally melting away in front of our very eyes and we still have two more months on site.

 

This morning our "freezer" was looking decidedly worse for wear so it was time for improvements. More snow was packed on top and around the sides and a better door was fitted. All courtesy of the carpenters used timber stack.

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Freezer looking a bit sorry for itself

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Freezer on its way to a new look (Barne Glacier in the background)

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The Little Joys

Posted by Conservators Dec 3, 2012

Author: Martin Wenzel

Date: 20/11/2012

Temperature: -6 degrees celcius

Wind Speed: 14 knots

Wind Chill : -20 degrees celcius

Sunrise: n/a

Sunset: n/a

 

About a week ago I started  working on fuel storage boxes found  around Robert Falcon Scott's expedition hut at Cape Evans. They were used to transport fuel tanks for the motor sledges that turned out to be not very  successful in Antarctic conditions. Conserving large numbers of these and other historic boxes which are in all states of disrepair, and come in a variety of styles and conditions, requires a lot of patience. And yet it is still fascinating when boxes have little surprises in store, provide a new structural challenge or show a particular nice piece  of wind sculpted timber.

 

Missing part of a board yesterday, and contemplating how to secure what was left over, I started looking through some debris found around the box. And there it was - clearly the missing piece but looking quite different. The piece attached to the box was weather worn and had lost up to 2mm of thickness through abrasion while the found piece had been protected for a hundred years and looked almost new. Joining them again looked a bit unusual but provided  the structural integrity needed. It is only a matter of time until the found piece will adjust its appearance.

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Same board, but a different look

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One board again.

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Dig, dig, dig!

Posted by Conservators Nov 28, 2012

Author: Jana

Date: 12 November 2012

Temperature: -12 °C

Wind Speed: 20 knots

Temp with wind chill: -38 °C

Sunrise: n/a

Sunset: n/a

 

One of the first tasks that we usually tackle when we arrive at the historic huts is to remove some of the massive amount of snow that has accumulated around the buildings during the  winter.  At both Shackleton’s hut at Cape Royds and Scott’s hut at Cape Evans, drifting snow piles up each year in the lee of the buildings, burying artefacts and pushing up against the walls of the structures themselves.  If this snow is left in place, it can turn into a thick layer of ice that becomes nearly impossible to remove, or it melts slowly in the summer sun, which can cause water damage to the walls of the buildings and to the objects sitting outside.  That’s why we make sure to dig it out while it is still in a perfectly snowy, shovel-able state! 

It usually takes several days of dedicated digging to remove all of the snow in question: we take turns hacking away at the deeper parts of the drifts or gingerly brushing where we know the artefacts are buried, and then we haul all of the loose snow by wheelbarrow or sled away from the building so it can melt where it won’t cause any damage.  As anyone who has shovelled out their driveway after a snowstorm knows, it is hard work wielding a shovel all day long, and we definitely feel like we’ve earned our lunches on digging days!photo 1.JPG

Snow on the north side of Scott's hut upon our arrival

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A day's worth of digging got us this far!

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Do you take milk in that?

Posted by Conservators Sep 5, 2012

Author: Jana

Date: 5 September 2012

Temperature: -16C

Wind Speed: 25 knots

Temp with wind chill: -28C

Sunrise: 08:56

Sunset: 16:51

 

 

Now that the short burst of springtime flights bringing fresh staff and supplies to Scott Base is over, we are once again in “isolation” mode.  With no more flights due to arrive until October, the sudden influx of fresh fruit and vegetables, worth their weight in gold to most of the winter-over staff who have done without for so many months, has sadly come to an end.  

 

Careful planning ensures that our supply stretches as far as possible, but some of the fresh goods, including milk, will only last for so long.  It seems a small thing, but for most of the year, it is powdered milk that staff at Scott Base add to their coffee and tea and use to pour over their cereal, and as any dairy-phile will attest, it is just not quite up to snuff!  And so while we have the real stuff, we make the most of it.

 

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Tin of milk powder during conservation © AHT/Jana

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Detail, Trumilk label © AHT/Jana

 

Funnily enough, our current glut of fresh milk comes at a time when I am treating (what else!?) historic tins of milk powder.  It seems that our enforced use of powdered milk is no different than that of the early explorers, with tins of Trumilk milk powder having been found in both Scott’s and Shackleton’s huts.  I am sure the early explorers would relate to our appreciation of fresh dairy, though it’s hard to tell what they would make of our espresso machine!

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Preservation Week

Posted by Conservators Apr 26, 2012

Author: Susanne
Date: April 18, 2012
Temperature: -16.3°C
Wind Speed: 11knots
Temp with wind chill: -20°C
Sunrise: 10:33am

Sunset 3:09pm

 

 

Starting next week, museums, libraries, and archives all over the United States will be celebrating Preservation Week. This annual event promotes conservation for collections of all sizes from museum collections to personal family heritage. Objects are the only tangible evidence we have of the past and the work of conservators and preservation specialists is critical to saving these irreplaceable treasures of human and family history. While the remote locations of the huts prohibit large amounts of visitors, the Trust has developed other resources that you can use to “visit” the huts and see the conservation work.

 

To check out a virtual tour of the huts visit the Trust’s webpage at http://www.nzaht.org/AHT/PhotoandVirtualTour/.


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Stefan and Susanne discussing the conservation of tins with a lab visitor. © AHT / Gretel

 

One way that we share the conservation projects taking place on the huts is through public tours during the winter season. We invite our friends from McMurdo Station, located 4km away, to visit the laboratory and view some of the artefacts undergoing conservation work. These tours are always a fun way to talk with people and explain the processes used to protect this iconic collection. We all feel very fortunate to be a part of this project and it’s a great reward to be able to share it with you!

 

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Woollen sock from Cape Evans after conservation.

Note the repair to the heel area and how even the repair has worn through from wear © AHT

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Remembering Scott

Posted by Conservators Apr 10, 2012

Author: Gretel
Date: 6 April 2012
Temperature: -15 ° C
Wind Speed: 10 knots
Temp with wind chill: -25 ° C
Sunrise: 8.46am
Sunset: 7.07pm

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Captain Scott’s last birthday dinner 6 June 1911 © Herbert Ponting

On Thursday 29th March 100 years ago, Captain Scott made the last entry in his diary before succumbing to starvation and exhaustion in the freezing cold, on his return trek from the South Pole.

"Since the 21st we have had a continuous gale from W.S.W. and S.W. We had fuel to make two cups of tea apiece and bare food for two days on the 20th. Every day we have been ready to start for our depot 11 miles away, but outside the door of the tent it remains a scene of whirling drift. I do not think we can hope for any better things now. We shall stick it out to the end, but we are getting weaker, of course, and the end cannot be far.
It seems a pity, but I do not think I can write more.

R. SCOTT.

For God’s sake look after our people."

At Scott Base we marked the momentous occasion with a commemorative dinner. It was a solemn and yet celebratory affair. Speeches  and toasts were made and remembrance given not only to Captain Scott but to all those whose lives have been claimed by Antarctica.

Earlier in the day the Scott Base winter team posed for a photograph to mark the event. We recreated from scratch the scene of the last birthday dinner for Captain Scott, held at Cape Evans on 6 June 1911. According to his diary, that night Scott and his men dined on ‘Clissold’s especially excellent seal soup, roast mutton and red currant jelly, fruit salad, asparagus and chocolate’. Comparing menus I think we at Scott Base had the better cuisine. I’ll leave you to compare the photographs...

 

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Recreation of Scott’s birthday dinner at Scott Base 29 March 2012 © Steve Williams

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Sea Ice Formation

Posted by Conservators Oct 4, 2011

Author: Jane
Date: 30 September 2011
Temperature: -26°C
Wind Speed: 12 knots
Temp with wind chill: -40°C

 


This has been an unusual year for the sea ice around Scott Base. In March it broke out in front of the base for the first time since 1997. The sea ice began to form again soon after the ice floes were washed out of McMurdo Sound. It is now around 1.8m thick in front of the base.

 

Image 1.jpg

The ‘Big John’ crack extending out from Hut Point into McMurdo sound. This crack is now impassable. Mount Discovery to the right and Black Island to the left, with a mirage visible along the bottom.  Photo AHT/ Jane

 

 

Further North the sea ice is still moving, causing the formation of large cracks. We managed to get to Cape Evans to do our Winter Hut Inspection on September 17th, but we had to park the Hagglund a few hundred metres out from the shore due to cracks in the sea ice which were not safe to cross in a vehicle. A few days later it was impossible to get to this area, as cracks along the flagged route had opened up substantially. One of the cracks we crossed is now about 2.5m wide.

 

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Looking down on Terra Nova hut from Windvane Hill with the Barne Glacier in the background and the Hagglund parked out on the Sea Ice.
Photo AHT/ Jane

The edge of the sea ice is now close to Cape Royds which is much further South than it has been in recent years. It has been very warm this winter, with temperatures often in the range of  -10°C to -20°C.  This combined with the frequent stormy conditions has hindered the sea ice formation. The cut-off date for sea ice growth is usually mid-October so it is unlikely to improve enough to allow for vehicle travel in the area over the summer season. This will have an impact on our work.


To see out what our weather looks like on Ross Island you can check out the webcams at Scott Base, Arrival Heights and the windfarm by clicking on this link: http://www.antarcticanz.govt.nz/scott-base/webcams

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WINFLY approacheth

Posted by Conservators Aug 18, 2011

Author: Jane
Date: 17th August 2011
Temperature: -33°C
Wind Speed: 15 knots
Temp with wind chill: -48°C
Sunrise: Friday!

 

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The view from the summer lab looking out over the Ross Ice Shelf to the daylight behind Mount Terror. Jane/AHT

It is just three days until the first flight of the WINFLY season (the pre-main season flights to exchange cargo and personnel ahead of the main season that starts in October). We are expecting a few new faces at Scott Base and about 350 at McMurdo. It will disrupt the everyday routine we have all become used to and will most certainly lead to a few faces that look like an animal caught in the headlights.


It is wonderful to see daylight creep ever further into the sky behind Mount Erebus and there is a noticeable difference in the number of people who sign out at lunch time to go for walks to absorb some Vitamin D! Just the idea of daylight seems to have given people a new energy that has been lacking for some time now.


We are all looking forward to the mail and fresh fruit and vegetables that will come down. Unfortunately, it is the end of the winter season for Antarctic Heritage Trust and we are working hard to get some last minute work completed before our new conservator, John, arrives on Saturday. We celebrated the end of our winter together with a special dinner followed by a performance in the bar by the Scott Base band- sadly, their last performance together as guitarist Julie leaves next week with Sarah and Martin.

 


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The summer lab beside the hangar with this year’s new pressure ridges just visible. Jane/AHT

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Author: Jane
Date: 07/06/11
Temperature: -32°C
Wind Speed: 10 knots
Temp with wind chill: -42°C
Sunrise:
Sunset

 


We have a radio station at Scott Base. 97FM keeps us entertained at work and in the bar in the evenings. We do not really have any TV stations, which is quite nice, although we do get the TVNZ news every evening so we can keep in touch with what is happening around the world.

 

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Johnny 5 giving us the run down of daily events on 97FM Scott Base radio.© Aht/Jane

Our communication engineer, Anthony, also known as Johnny 5, is our resident DJ. We all create playlists, which he changes regularly, but not often enough sometimes. Every now and then we will ring him with requests to play, or stop playing a particular song.


We even have promos on the radio which have been recorded by past residents of the Base, including one by Sir Ed Hillary.


Every morning, Johnny 5 gives us the weather and a run down of the daily events on Ross Island in his usual witty way. This often involves a prelude to what Lance has prepared for morning tea and every now and then a secret recording of someone having a rant about world politics and the proliferation of zombies in the area.


97FM may have an audience of only 14, but we think it has broken some world record for more plays of ‘Stairway to Heaven’ than any other radio station in the world.

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Return of the Sea Ice

Posted by Conservators Mar 23, 2011

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!

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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.

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Sea ice forming in front of the summer labs © AHT/Jane

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The Huts  15 years on

Posted by Conservators Feb 9, 2011

Posted by Sarah


Date: 29 January 2011
Temperature: -9
Wind Speed: 0 knots
Temp with wind chill: -9

It was with great anticipation that I flew out to Captain RF Scott’s Terra Nova Expedition 1910-1913 hut at Cape Evan and Sir Ernest Shackleton’s 1907 Nimrod Expedition Hut at Cape Royds on Saturday.  I have been working as a conservator at these huts since the 1997. Since my last trip in 2006, an enormous amount of work has been undertaken by the building conservators to shore up the huts and remove ice and snow from under the hut, to improve the internal environments. Additionally, thousands of artefacts have been conserved and placed back on display.


The visual and environmental changes inside the hut were very noticeable. The huts no longer have ice fingering its way up the wall with wet beads of corrosion glistening in my torch light. Instead the huts have a drier, more lived in feeling.  The picture shows one corner of Shackleton’s 1907 Nimrod Expedition Hut, 10 years ago the walls and floor under these beds was damp and moldy, now it is quite dry.

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Sir Ernest Shackleton’s 1907 Nimrod Expedition Hut at Cape Royds © AHT / Sarah


I’m an in no doubt these changes will have an enormous impact on the longevity of these very special places, and it is fantastic that the Antarctic Heritage Trust  has had the resources to carry out the necessary work.

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Posted by Diana

 

Date: 28 December 2010

Temperature: .9 degrees Celsius

Wind Speed: 8 knots

Temp with wind chill: negligible

Sunrise: The sun is up

 

We have had a few days at Scott Base to catch up on some work and enjoy Christmas with the Scott Base staff. We head out to the field tomorrow and since the frozen sea ice roads are closed we will be flying out by helicopter.

 

Antarctica New Zealand has one helicopter which the New Zealand Government supports, however there are three others at McMurdo Station, the American base. All four helicopters are base at McMurdo and are rotated according to event needs. The New Zealand helicopter is the newest and nicest looking – I think. It is an EC 130 Eurocopter built in France in 2007. This helicopter will carry six people, the pilot and freight. We will be flying out to Captain Scott’s 1910-13 expedition base at Cape Evans to join the carpentry team in this helicopter.

 

The other helicopters are two French built AS 350 – which are also known as “Squirrels” or in North America “A Star’s”. They carry 5 passengers, a pilot and suppliers. The other helicopter is a Bell 212 built in the USA which looks the biggest but actually has a similar capacity to the EC130. We have weighed  all our supplies in preparation for our flight tomorrow. It will be very exciting to see Antarctica from the air, as up till now we have only seen it from the ground.

 

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The New Zealand EC 130 helicopter © Antarctic Heritage Trust 2010 - Diana

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Cladding the roof

Posted by Cricket and Diana Jan 6, 2011

Posted by: Al Fastier

 

Date: 28 December 2010

 

 

The Carpentry team has spent the last two weeks cladding the roof of Captain Scott’s 1910 expedition base at Cape Evans. The product we are using has been chosen for its durability (an important factor in the harsh Antarctic environment) as well as its historical correctness in appearance. It’s a large job which requires attention to detail, such as welding the rubber seams of the cladding sheets to achieve the correct finish on the edging as used by the heroic explorers.


Fortunately the weather has favoured us, with the wind not interfering with the work and warm sunshine for the most part. A couple of times we have even managed to wear just socks on our feet for the work on the roof which heats up in the sun.

 

Yesterday we completed the cladding on the main body of the roof and it looks fantastic, fitting in well with the rest of the hut’s character.  It will really be something by the time the stables and western annexe are complete!


It is great to be a part of such an important and aesthetically pleasing project for the huts appearance as we approach the centenary of Captain Scott’s 1910-13 expedition.

 

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Cladding the roof at Captain Scott's 1910-13 expedition base, Cape Evans © AHT 2010

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