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122 Logistical Extravaganza

02 . 02 . 2021

Notes

Watch this on video Buy us a coffee: Chris / Henry

News: Get a glimpse on the current seismic activity around the South Shetland Islands and embrace the break-up of Iceberg a-68a into smaller fragments that still are incredibly large or dive into geopolitics, architecture, glaciology, photography and conservation of Antarctica and more with the videos of the seven-day-online-festival Antarctica Now!

While logistics for Antarctic research stations are already challenging in ‘normal’ times, the pandemic has put them onto a new level and pushed everyone involved to their limits. The US Antarctic Programme and the National Science Foundation boarded their field staff in San Francisco and other cities to sail them down all the way to Antarctica. The Russian Antarctic Programme did the same, staffing icebreakers in Murmansk to send them all the way down to the 7th continent to bring the so-called winterers for the Russian stations. Most Antarctic Programmes have either cancelled or drastically reduced their research seasons in Antarctica due to the ongoing global pandemic. The British Antarctic Survey has evacuated staff from a number of research station but puts finishing touches on the upgrade on Rothera station. For those constructions, workforce have been brought to the Falkland Islands and then shipped down to the Antarctic Peninsula. And also the German Antarctic Programme operated by the Alfred-Wegener-Institute faced the necessity of becoming creative and almost causing a diplomatic incident to get the turnover staff to its Neumayer III research station.

121 Crash Landing

26 . 01 . 2021

Notes

Watch this on video Buy us a coffee: Chris / Henry

Hostile conditions in Antarctica make scientific research rather difficult, so most scientists rarely visit the 7th continent, instead using satellite data to complete their work. But sometimes even scientists are baffled when they find structures on satellites pictures they cannot explain right away.

That happened when scientists got hold of a picture that showed something that appeared to be a crash site forming long stretch in the ice. Aviation experts agreed that it could be formed by something landing there and skating to a halt. This theory wasn’t completely out of the blue since the site where this picture has been taken from is quite close to the incident site of one of the world’s worst aviation accidents when a passenger aeroplane crashed into Mount Erebus back in 1979. But the theory couldn’t hold for long once the shadows of the shown objects got taken into consideration and NASA scientists revealed an unusual type of glacier forming a seven-mile-long wall of jagged ice on the frozen sea of McMurdo Sound.

120 United in Peace? Research at the End of the World

19 . 01 . 2021

Notes

Watch this on video Buy us a coffee: Chris / Henry

Antarctica is a very special place in many ways. The sheer size of its ice cover, the astonishing wilderness, the inaccessibility, being Earth's only continent without a native human population - it seems like the last vastly untamed place on earth. It is because of that that the 7th continent turned into an Eldorado for scientists despite its inhospitality. The Antarctic Treaty has put all territorial claims on hold and devotes the continent to Science and Peace since 1959 and besides the 12 original signees a total of 54 countries operate seasonal research stations in Antarctica.

However, all claiming states operate a number of research stations to underline their claim, some of them even tried to [establish permanent civil settlements]((https://www.coolantarctica.com/Antarctica%20fact%20file/science/can_you_live_in_antarctica.php#:~:text=There%20are%20two%20places%20in,tip%20of%20the%20Antarctic%20Peninsula) and send pregnant woman to give birth to "native Antarcticans" to support such claims.

Aiming for the lowest possible “disturbance footprint” on the planet the research facilities are largely planned as temporary structures. In 2018 the Australian government considered a new infrastructure project in the area that is claimed as Australian Antarctic Territory. While the project remained largely undiscovered in the public eye in past years, resistance is now forming in the group that is supposed to benefit most from the project. Scientists are largely critical of the project, as it represents a significant interference with the extremely fragile balance of the continent and its ecosystems and could create a real bad precent in terms of the scale of investment and the impact on the environment but certainly would turn Australias footprint in Antarctica to the biggest of any nation. Beyond environmental questions, the project’s long term and more troubling impact may be the altering of the political conditions on the frozen continent.

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