Antarctic Life

A frozen outlook on life on the ice

Wednesday Walkabout Week 5: The Tag Board

Halley VI, Brunt Ice Shelf, Antarctica 75°36'36"S 26°16'14"W

Temperature: -33.4°C

Wind Speed: 11 kts SSE

Now that the weather is getting considerably colder - the past few days had been consistently into the -40's (Celsius and Fahrenheit) it is even more important to ensure that people know where everyone is when they are not within the safety of the main modules.

The Tag BoardVarious locations within and outwith the perimeter for people to indicate their location

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Wednesday Walkaround Week 4: What we do

Halley VI, Brunt Ice Shelf, Antarctica 75°36'36"S 26°16'14"W

Temperature: -34.3°C 

 Wind Speed: 6 kts SW

Firstly, apologies to anyone waiting to read this on a Wednesday, but unfortunately I was unable to update it, so this is coming to you on a Friday instead.

This week will be a short introduction to the various people in the skeleton winter crew who are responsible for ensuring the continuous running of the building, communication and science infrastructure over the long, cold and dark winter months. During a normal year, there are usually around 13 winter staff.

Throughout the year I will talk more about the work each person does in a more detailed post but below is a brief summary of each.

The station can be split up into various teams, grouping individuals sharing common theme, but in reality, we all work together.

We have the science team, the technical services team and the life services team. In some years, there is a slight overlap.

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Wednesday Walkaround Week 3: Clothing Layering

Halley VI, Brunt Ice Shelf, Antarctica 75°36'36"S 26°16'14"W

Temperature: -18.6°C

Wind Speed: 14 kts ENE

Now that winter has started to set in properly, I thought I would share with everyone how I personally dress for going outside. Everyone on station does things slightly differently, however I have found for me, the classic layering system works best for my own personal comfort.

Some of the kit is BAS issued (Baffin's, down jacket, Paramo smock, gloves and all 8000m gear), however most are my own.

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Wednesday Walkaround: Week 2 - Keeping the Elements Outside

Halley VI, Brunt Ice Shelf, Antarctica 75°36'36"S 26°16'14"W

Temperature: -25.8°C

Wind Speed: 10 kts S

This week will be a slightly shorter Wednesday Walkaround talking about keeping the elements outside. The modules are designed much like any extreme environment and has obvious similarities to a space environment, either a spacecraft or station, or indeed, when the time comes, to an outpost on another planet or moon.

The massive airlock style doors8 inches of steel keeping us from the outside

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Wednesday Walkaround: Week 1 - Waste Management

Halley VI, Brunt Ice Shelf, Antarctica 75°36'36"S 26°16'14"W

Temperature: -19.7°C

Wind Speed: 23 kts ENE

Today marks a slight change to the format of my blog posts. In combination with posts on twitter, I will be talking about various daily tasks, bits of station kit, or science routines for everyone to see what life is like during winter on station. Each Wednesday I will do what I have termed a "Wednesday Walkaround" whereby I will post a picture and brief tweet about the topic of the day before explaining things in a little more detail here.

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Winter Trip

Halley VI, Brunt Ice Shelf, Antarctica 75°36'36"S 26°16'14"W

Temperature: -29.9°C

Wind Speed: 5 kts ESE

It has been quite some time since my last post and things are looking a little different around Halley these days. Gone are the 24 hours of daylight, replaced by a mere 6 and it is rapidly dwindling - in less a week there will be no more sun for the foreseeable future.

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I spy with my little eye... something beginning with "M"

Halley VI, Brunt Ice Shelf, Antarctica 75°36'36"S 26°16'14"W

Temperature: -8.8°C

Wind Speed: 14.8 kts E

The scenery around Halley, whilst breathtaking, is sometimes just a little bit too white and featureless. On the days where the visibility is high enough, and the mirage of the horizon is quite pronounced the steep rise of the continental ice stream is visible and breaks up the monotony of endless flat white.

However, I managed to have the opportunity to fly out on one of the Twin Otter aircraft, VP-FBC, or Bravo Charlie as it is referred to for obvious reasons. This was incredibly exciting for many reasons, not least getting to see the continent properly as well as the chance to see something other than just an expanse of flat white.

The Shackleton Mountain rangeView from the cockpit of Bravo Charlie

The flying schedule is exceptionally volatile and is subject to change minutes before a planned departure into the field. Sometimes flights to one location are cancelled in favour of another, often changing the crew travelling to the site, and often with less than a day's notice.

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Day Trip to Creek 3

Halley VI, Brunt Ice Shelf, Antarctica 75°36'36"S 26°16'14"W

Temperature: -3.2°C

Wind Speed: 18.0 kts ENE

After an exceptionally busy relief period, the Shackleton has now gone leaving just the two winter teams and the summer crew.

The weather has been remarkably kind with sunny skies for at least part of the day, each and every day since I arrived, with relatively low winds and high temperatures. Today marks a slight change from this pattern, whilst it is still exceptionally warm, the wind has picked up and reached up to 25 knots earlier in the day, kicking up plenty of loose snow and blowing it across the ground, resulting in almost zero contrast and relatively poor visibility.

For us incoming winterers, we will be heading off to Creek 3, which is one of the usual relief sites, for our winter training on Friday where we will spend the weekend improving on the skills we learnt at the training week back in the UK.

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Christmas at Halley

Halley VI, Brunt Ice Shelf, Antarctica 75°36'36"S 26°16'14"W

Temperature: -7.2°C

Wind Speed: 10.8kts ENE

So I have finally arrived in Halley (well a week ago) and it is now Christmas Day, however despite the literally endless view of snow from out of my window, it does not even feel remotely like Christmas. At least it was always going to be a guaranteed white Christmas! Although it was always going to be unlikely to snow - which it has not.

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The Endurance Centenary

Off the coast of Southern Africa 29.9368°S, 12.5000°E

Temperature: +20°C

Today marks 100 years since Ernest Shackleton's ship Endurance sank. It marked the end of an arduous struggle between the wooden ship and the brutal crushing power of the ice that surrounded it.

Commemorating the centenary onboard the RRS Ernest ShackletonCommemorating the centenary with the Shackleton family plaque and the RRS Ernest Shackleton plaque

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The Line Ceremony

Mid-Atlantic Ocean 20.7834°S, 0.2263°E

Temperature: +20.0°C

Act of crossing the equatorScreenshot of the ship's guidance computer when we crossed the line
So we have now passed the equator and with it came the age old tradition of the crossing of the line ceremony.The ceremony has been practised for hundreds of years within sailing communities and a ship's crew is splint into those who have passed the equator before (and posess a valid certificate) and those who have not (or have been foolish enough to forget their certificate!).
The view at the equatorNot much to look at when 17 degrees east at the equator!

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Madeira and onwards

Atlantic Ocean, Off the coast of Palma, Canary Islands 29.7011°N, 18.6195°W

Temperature: +22°C

So I've finally managed to see something worth taking a picture of during my journey south. Our first waypoint as I've mentioned is Madeira, where we had to stop to refuel in Funchal. The first sign I saw that we were finally nearing land was a solitary bird flying just outside my window - a very welcome sight having seen nothing but the vast expanse of ocean for a solid week.

I must admit having avoided being seasick for a few days, I finally started feeling a little rough once we hit the Bay of Biscay but soon found my sealegs only for us to hit dry land again!

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South Bound

Off the English Coast 52.5747°N, 1.2781°E

Temperature: -°C

This one will be a short post without photos unfortunately. The journey has finally started and we are currently making our way south from Immingham to Portsmouth, aiming to arrive tomorrow evening. For anyone interested in seeing the seas and view we currently have from the ship you can head over to the link here to view the webcam which is situated in the conning tower at the top of the ship facing forwards.

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About Halley

Plymouth, England 50.4173°N, 4.1067°W

Temperature: +12°C

So I thought it was about time for an update but there isn't really anything exciting to show you or indeed tell you as it is mainly medical training within the local hospital here in Plymouth. Instead I thought I would give semi-regular updates on various historical things until the time comes that I can write about what is actually happening.


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Aberdeen, Scotland 57.1526°N, 2.1100°W

Temperature: +3°C

In rather stark contrast to my last post and something I'm sure I will no doubt get used to is year-round snow.

Off the back of a lovely few weeks of sun and relative warmth in Inverness, today the day started out very sunny in Aberdeen before turning very wintery with a reasonable amount of snowfall.

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Welcome to the blog!

Inverness, Scotland 57.4749°N, 4.1932°W

Temperature: +10°C

Welcome to the blog. I aim to try and update this as often as possible with as many pictures as bandwidth will allow.

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