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Antarctic conservation

2 Posts tagged with the solstice tag
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The world is your oyster

Posted by Conservators Aug 13, 2012

Author: Stefan

Date: August 8th  2012

Temperature: -37.5 deg C

Wind Speed: 5 knots

Temp with wind chill: -45 deg C

Sunrise: n/a

Sunset n/a

 

It was extremely difficult for me to get my head around just exactly how the transition of the seasons work down in Antarctica, but I guess the best way you could describe it is:

 

• 24hr constant sunlight

• 3-4 weeks of ambient light (without seeing the sun) getting shorter everyday

• 24hr constant darkness, with some illumination from the moon, when clear

• 3-4 weeks of ambient light (without seeing the sun) getting longer every day, and with a great deal of illumination from the moon.

 

.Sunrise.jpg

First sun of the season on the Hut, 26th August, 1911

 

Now, learn’d folk reading this, will be saying “yeah! obvious…derrrr”, but until you experience that mixture of tiredness, confusion, and firsts, trust me, the events of everyday, come as a bit of a shock. Just the other day, four of us watched a huge fiery golden globe rising over the horizon, although we knew it was the moon, it didn’t stop us asking each other over and over “it’s definitely not the sun, right?”

 

N-Cloud1.jpg

Nacreous Clouds forming over Mt Erebus

 

Equal to the aurora’s, nacreous clouds unfurl in the sky like smudges of diesel, making you feel like you’re inside a huge opalescent mussel shell, (indeed the word is derived from ‘nacre’ or mother of pearl).

 

I’ve never really had any time for solstice events but the joy of seeing the light on the snow here does place you in tune with all of your thoughts, and a real sense of time passing, life changing. Looking over Mt Erebus and seeing the light emission of the swirling pinks and violets, there is a desperation to be naive to all you’ve learned of science and to see it as a cauldron of magic, that will soon spill over and bring only good.

 

It’s nice to think that the explorers would have begun their long hauling seasons with this fever of positivity in their veins.

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Author: Gretel

Date: 20 June 2012

Temperture: -28C

Wind Speed: 20 knots

Temp with wind chill: -55C

Sunrise: N/A

Sunset: N/A

 

 

With only one day to go until the mid-winter solstice, Antarctica is a whirlwind of fun and festivities.

 

24-hour darkness has been upon us since 20 April when we watched the sun disappear below the horizon, not to be seen again until 19 August. The solstice on 20 June marks the half-way point in our winter so it is widely celebrated by many of the crews at international bases throughout Antarctica.

 

One of the main ways of celebrating is with a feast of food. Scott Base had an amazing 7 course dinner featuring scallops, venison and chocolate mousse cake to mention but a few.

 

menu.jpg

Scott Base Mid-Winter dinner menu

 

Another tradition is the polar plunge. A crazy custom whereby participants take the opportunity to jump into the sea through a hole cut through the sea-ice in temperatures of minus 30 degrees Celsius.

 

Polar Plunger.jpg

Polar plunger reclines in the freezing waters

 

We know that these activities go on throughout the Antarctic continent (and are not just confined to crazy Kiwis) as the many international bases send mid-winter greeting e-cards boasting of the delights of their base and mid-winter feast, usually extending an open invitation to all to attend. This irony isn’t lost on those who appreciate that travel to Antarctica is out of the question during the mid-winter (unless it is a question of life or death) so to travel thousands of miles across it is a wistful idea for the sake of attending a mid-winter dinner party.