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Antarctic conservation

85 Posts tagged with the scott_base tag
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Tent Repairs

Posted by Conservators May 31, 2011

Posted by Sarah

 

Date: 23/5/2011
Temperature: -27
Wind Speed: 5 Knots
Temp with wind chill: -50
Sunrise: NA
Sunset NA

 

 

Scott Base on Ross Island is very isolated for much of the year and new supplies are often impossible to get. An enormous amount of planning goes into getting all the things that Scott Base and all the scientists need in the field, many years in advance.  Additionally great care is taken to make things last and as much as possible is reused and recycled. This has not changed since man first arrived on the continent.

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Troy repairing a polar tent © AHT/ Sarah


The Field Support Officer and Base Leader, Troy Beaumont, has just spent many weeks repairing polar tents for the 2011/2012 summer science season, with the industrial Singer sewing machine.

 

There is a Herbert Ponting image of P.O. Evans inside Captain Scott’s 1910 Terra Nova Expedition Hut at Cape Evans, at a similar  but hand cranked Singer sewing machine, working with heavy canvas.


These ongoing connections with the heroic era remind us how lucky we are with all the modern facilities we have, and that we must also value and respect what we have here.

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Sea Anchor

Posted by Conservators May 20, 2011

Posted by Sarah, conservator with the Antarctic Heritage Trust

 

Date: 18 April 2011
Temperature: -22
Wind Speed: 20 knots
Temp with wind chill: -28

Sunrise: NA
Sunset NA


Two items arrived on my desk at Scott Base a few weeks ago. The catalogue record described them as wind socks, but as soon as I opened up the box I realised that what I had were not wind socks.


The items are cone shaped canvas devices with a wooden loop at the large end. Three ropes are tied around the wooden loop and extend to a central point above the cone of fabric.  The material is far too heavy and there is no swivel point to allow the cones to catch the wind direction.


I had no idea what they could be used for. I wondered if they would have been used to dredge water or other items from the ocean, as they showed signs of being in salt water, and having just treated the plankton net, I was thinking they could be related to science.


The week I was treating these unknown items, we had a tour of the lab for staff from the American Base, McMurdo Station. It was then that a number of Americans on the tour suggested they could be small sea anchors or drogues.
Drogues used in the ocean, attached to a small boat to slow or help steady it and have been used since antiquity.


The shape, construction and size is certainly correct for a small boat.

 

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Sea Anchors from Cape Evans © AHT

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Sun Dogs

Posted by Conservators May 20, 2011

Posted by Jane, conservator with the Antarctic Heritage Trust

 

Date: 19th May 2011
Temperature: -19°C
Wind Speed: 20 knots
Temp with wind chill: -40°C
Sunrise:
Sunset


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Sun Dog between Mount Erebus and Mount Terror © AHT/Jane


We were treated to a rare sight just before the sun left us a few weeks ago. A really spectacular sun dog was visible when the sun was low beside Mount Erebus. Sun dogs are seen as a ring of light or halo around the sun with bright spots on either side. They are often seen in Antarctica when small ice crystals are blown up into the air. As they fall towards the ground, they align vertically and act as prisms which defract the light creating the effect. It is a really spectacular sight which we will unfortunately not see again for some time!

 

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Bright spot from the side of the sundog in front of Mount Erebus © AHT/Jane

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Midnight  Alert

Posted by Conservators May 10, 2011

Posted by Martin


Date: 4.5.2011
Temperature: -31 degree C
Wind Speed: 10 knots
Temp with wind chill: -48 degree C
Sunrise: n/a
Sunset n/a

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Aurora Australis over Scott Base - Troy Beaumont

It was well after midnight when our base manager, Troy, was woken up by his pager. He carries it with him day and night in order to be alerted to any kind of emergency requiring immediate attention. A quick glance at the pager however reminded him that he had put himself on the Aurora Alert list. Anyone who sees an Aurora Australis (also known as Southern Lights), can phone in the information to McMurdo station which then gets relayed to people on the list. And it is certainly a sight worth getting out of bed for. A mesmerizing, magical light display with sheets of green light moving like curtains in a breeze across a dark sky. The light of an Aurora is emitted by atoms, molecules and ions in the upper atmosphere that have been excited by the solar wind, which is basically a stream of electrons and protons. The density of magnetic field lines in the polar regions channels this effect and makes it visible.  

 

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Aurora Australis over Scott Base - Troy Beaumont

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Installment 1 - Boxes

Posted by Conservators Mar 23, 2011

Author: Martin

 

Date: 16-03-11

Temperature: -20°C

Wind Speed: 10 knots

Temp with wind chill: -40°C

Sunrise: 07:08

Sunset: 20:53

 

 

In my last blog I talked about boxes in waiting and the setting up of my workbench here in the Hillary Field Centre at Scott Base. Now I will talk about where the boxes came from and what will happen to them. Ever since they were used by Sir Ernest Shackleton to build a garage and stables outside the expedition base for his 1907-1909 British Antarctic (Nimrod) Expedition, these boxes have survived in one of the harshest climates on earth. Most of them still contain the original food. The food however has become an environmental risk as the boxes disintegrate and without intervention most of them would be lost to the environment very soon.

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Remains of the east wall of the stables © AHT

 

Over the summer months we have spent several weeks dismantling and excavating the structures, packing the individual boxes up and transporting them to Scott Base for conservation. This also included creating a very detailed record about the condition and location of every single item. It allows us to return the conserved boxes next year to their original location. They are now stored in their frozen state until we are ready to thaw them and look at their content for the first time in more than 100 years.

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Diana gets a box ready for travel © AHT

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Posted by Lizzie

 

I’m writing this from sunny Cape Royds, looking out onto Mt Erebus, just a small vapor trail visible today from Ross Island’s active volcano. All around me is the sound of a very busy camp - we’ve gone from four to nine! This week Diana, Cricket, JT and I have been joined by Randy (Canada), Jamie W (Scotland), Martin, Jamie C and Al (NZ).


Productivity has shot through the roof, offset by the time it takes to do all the dishes….

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From L-R: Jamie C, JT, Martin, Jamie W, Al, Randy © AHT

 

The last three days have seen the whole team moving artefacts, equipment and supplies from Scott Base to Cape Evans to Cape Royds and vice versa. It’s a big job involving several tracked vehicles, many sleds and the support of Antarctica New Zealand staff, who put in some long days to get us into the field and all set up.


We’ve had some fantastic weather – here’s a shot of the artefacts in transit with Mt Erebus in the background, and not a breath of wind!
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The artefacts on the move © Diana / AHT

 

Similarly to last year, the sea ice edge and open water are visible from the cliffs next to Cape Royds. The Adelie penguin pairs are looking plump, and are busy keeping their eggs warm, and taking turns to head out on fishing expeditions. Meanwhile the humans are waddling industriously about like giant orange and black penguins, returning artefacts to the hut…..

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Flag raising ceremony

Posted by Cricket and Diana Oct 20, 2010

Posted by Diana

 

Date: October 20, 2010
Temperature: -22 degrees C
Wind Speed: 5 knots
Temp with wind chill: -26degrees C
Sunrise: 3:24 am
Sunset 12:07 am

 

The conservators with the Antarctic Heritage Trust come to Scott Base at Winfly (early August) and stay until almost the end of “Mainbody” ( the summer work term) when the “Winter over” conservators come in. This means that the AHT conservators get to know two seasons of Scott Base employees.
We recently took part in the Flag raising ceremony which is held to celebrate the work of the outgoing 2009/10 team by the incoming 2010/11 team. It is in commemoration of the first flag raising ceremony held at Scott Base.

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Winter flag © AHT/Diana

 

In 1957 a short but impressive ceremony took place, attended by Sir Edmond Hillary, Captain Harold Ruegg, Administrator of the Ross Dependency, Captain Kirkwood from the Endeavour, Admiral Dufek (US Navy), Captain Weiss from the USNS, Pte. John R. Towle, the press and workers associated with the establishment of Scott Base. The youngest member of the party, 20 year old Able Seaman Ramon Tito RNZN, hoisted the first flag. The flag pole used was an historic one recovered from Hut Point where it had been placed by R.F. Scott in 1902-04.

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Joel attaching the flag  © AHT/Diana

 

Our 2010 ceremony had 20 year old Joel lower the flag which flew all winter and raise the new flag. The top of the flag pole is still the original from Scott’s era.

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New flag up © AHT/Diana

 

The ceremony had a turning of the page feel about it with the excitement of the new crew at being in Antarctica and for the departing crew the prospect of seeing their families again after 13 months on the ice.
 

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Posted by Cricket

 

Date: 6 October 2010
Temperature: -15C
Wind Speed: 40 knots
Temp with wind chill:
Sunrise: 5:30am
Sunset 9:50pm

 

Sundays are our day off at New Zealand’s Scott Base, and, when the weather permits, these are the best days to set off on longer hikes.  There are a series of marked trails throughout the southern tip of Ross Island, one being a hike up to Observation Hill that Diana featured in previous blog, and another is called the Cape Armitage Loop.  Last Sunday, a friend and I walked the 8k trail that took us out in front of Scott Base, along a flagged route over the sea ice to the U.S. McMurdo Base.  It is an open and flat route that affords views of the distant Trans-Antarctic mountain range, and White and Black Islands, and follows along the back side of Observation Hill.

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Trail System on the Southern Tip of Ross Island © AHT/Cricket


The trail is named after Albert Borlase Armitage, who joined R.F. Scott’s 1901-1904 Discovery expedition from the merchant service and served as Scott’s navigator and second-in-command.  Among other accomplishments, Armitage successfully led the Western Journey, becoming the first to ascend the Ferrar Glacier and reach the summit of Antarctica.  This was quite a feat considering that his party consisted of seaman who had little cold weather and no climbing experience.  One author said that before this journey, the highest any man from that party had ever climbed was up the mast of a ship.  Though likely an exaggeration, it serves as a helpful reminder that most of Scott’s men had never before experienced anything like the Antarctic terrain and climate.

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View of McMurdo from Cape Armitage Loop © AHT/Cricket

 

Armitage’s Western Journey was quite difficult and the party suffered fierce blizzards, altitude sickness, and one even a heart attack.  Surprisingly, all survived and returned safely to the Discovery base camp.  Knowing a little of the history, I smile at the irony of the Cape Armitage Loop name, for the trek is a tranquil and relatively easy route that, as advertised, offers solitude and escape.  And, it conveniently ends near the coffee shop at McMurdo where you can sit back and have an easy rest of the day with a big mug of hot chocolate.
 

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Posted by Cricket

 

Date: 28 September 2010
Temperature: -28C
Wind Speed: 10 knots
Temp with wind chill: -36C
Sunrise: 6:47am
Sunset: 8:45pm

 

Last Saturday, we celebrated the end of the winter season at New Zealand's Scott Base, Antarctica, with a special dinner prepared by Bobbi, our chef.  The evening was the last time all 14 of us could unwind and be together before the 36 new summer and winter-over crews arrive this week.

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The dinner table © Antarctica NZ/Alfred

 

After an afternoon of base tasks (Diana and I worked up good appetites while helping clear snow from around all the entrances), we gathered around a table full of appetizers of herb chicken balls, spicy shrimp , pesto bruschetta and smoked salmon, and watched the beginning of the Grand Final Australian Rules Football game between St. Kilda and Collingwood.

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Dinner and dessert © Antarctica NZ/Alfred

 

We then all moved into the dining room and sat down to a  cleverly plated meal of  jam-crusted rack of lamb served with polenta, steamed green beans and honey roasted yams.  The lamb was an unusual treat since meat bones are an expensive waste on this continent where all rubbish has to be shipped out.  For dessert, we had panna cotta drizzled with blueberry sauce and topped with hardened twists of caramelized sugar.  It was a great evening.  The opportunity to relax, hear stories from the winter and laugh was the best treat, especially in light of these last couple weeks when everyone around the base seems cocooned away, spending long days in their work areas getting ready for the handover period.

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Mindy                      August 4, 2010


Temperature:           -17.0°C
Wind Speed:           10 knots
Temp with wind chill: Approximately -30°C
Moonrise:                Below horizon
Moonset:                 Below horizon

 

When we arrived at Scott Base (New Zealand’s Antarctic research station) in February, pools of open water were everywhere.  It was hard not to notice the waters of McMurdo Sound through breaks in the ice.

 

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The open waters of McMurdo Sound, as viewed from Observation Hill in March. When the sea ice freezes over,

the Cape Armitage Loop runs directly through this area.  © AHT / M. Bell

 

After months of winter, these pools have frozen over.  It is now possible to assess the potential for local travel over the sea ice.  Armed with flags, a GPS unit, measuring tapes, shovels, hot chocolate and a very large drill, we ventured out on to the sea ice.  With Tom, Scott Base winter manager, at the helm, we followed the Cape Armitage GPS route at a cautious pace.  Observing the landscape closely, we stopped to measure, assess and mark potential dangers like cracks in the sea ice.  We also stopped to determine the ice’s thickness at specific points along the route.

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Digging down through the snow to find the ice surface, with Observation Hill in the background.

© Antarctica New Zealand / T Arnold

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Drilling into the sea ice to determine its thickness

© Antarctica New Zealand / T Arnold

As a general rule, a minimum of 75 cm of ice is required for sea ice travel.  Measurements gathered from our trip suggest the portion of the route we surveyed is good to go.  When the route is completely profiled, the path of safe travel will be marked with flags and the fun can begin.  Me, I’m keen to get out for a good ski!    

 

 

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