General Question

Harp's avatar

What's life like at an Antarctic research station?

Asked by Harp (19055 points ) October 19th, 2008

Does time pass slowly/quickly? What kinds of things does one miss the most? Is there anything to love about it? What’s the social environment like in such a cloistered setting? How long is too long?

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21 Answers

hannahsugs's avatar

Not exactly what your question is asking, but this video comes to mind.

Harp's avatar

Yikes!

richardhenry's avatar

@hannahsugs: Ug. I can’t even imagine being outside!

ccrash3's avatar

I imagine it’s as cold as a witches ti….(you know what I mean)

gailcalled's avatar

Speaking of which, is Les still among us?

Harp's avatar

She has checked in today, according to her profile

gailcalled's avatar

Not from hypothermia ward somewhere, I hope.

Les's avatar

I’m here. I had a heinous computer virus that needed to be expunged, but all is well now.

Life on an Antarctic research station. I know all about this. I am currently at McMurdo Station, which is the largest station on the continent. So that being said, we have it the best here, socially. I will have been here for two months researching the Antarctic ozone hole. It has been the most amazing experience of my life. We will be here for a short time, though. At least compared to the “townies” that keep the station running. Science groups tend to be here for shorter times (it costs money to come down here, and most grants don’t cover much more than two or three months). But the people that run the airfield, drive the transport vehicles, maintain the roads, mountaneers, office staff, fire fighters, and all the other people that keep the town living and breathing are here typically between 6 and 12 months. This is the popular season right now (summer). Popular because of the 24 hour daylight and good (relatively) weather. There are about 1000 people on station, which means it feels like a very small town. The one really good thing about living here is the people that come down here are all so interesting. It is impossible to meet someone here who doesn’t have an amazing story. Last night we had a presentation by a BBC producer and two cameramen about the making of the television series’ “Blue Planet” and “Planet Earth”. It was extraordinary.

What else? There are two bars, a coffee shop, lots of hiking, the Kiwi base is a short walk away and they have a fun “American Night” at their bar every Thursday. You can ski, go for walks, there are gyms, rock climbing facilities, you name it. I have a blog that shows some more of the types of things from the science group perspective.
http://leslieinmcm.blogspot.com/
I don’t think I could stay here much longer than 2 or three months. But it is amazing to be here. Just a week ago I did a two day, overnight winter camping class where we set up a camp on the ice and slept there over night. In Antarctica. That was amazing. I don’t think this type of life is for everyone, though. But it sure as hell was for me.

Nimis's avatar

Neato!

andrew's avatar

best. answer. ever.

Les's avatar

I’m honored, Andrew. ;-)

richardhenry's avatar

totally. agree.

Mtl_zack's avatar

where do i sign up?

Les's avatar

You can find employment info here: http://www.usap.gov/jobsAndOpportunities/
And Raytheon does the hiring for the “townines” http://rpsc.raytheon.com/

ezraglenn's avatar

wow. This is what fluther is all about!

Knotmyday's avatar

God I’d love to be there. I actually dreamed about it a month ago, and can’t get it out of my head.

Knotmyday's avatar

Also- most awesome blog ever.

augustlan's avatar

Excellent blog, Les!

Les's avatar

@augustlan
Thanks! There will be more updates coming around the middle of August, so keep checking it. ;-)

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