Wednesday, August 02, 2017

What's It Like to Spend Winter at the South Pole?

Here at The Adventure Blog we cover the South Pole exploration and ski season fairly extensively each year. That period usually begins around the November 1 and runs through the end of January, which is about the same timeframe for the austral summer in the Antarctic. But what is it like to be at the South Pole during the winter, when no flights get in or out and the skeleton crew there is completely isolated? One researcher shared his experience with ExWeb about what it is like to winter at the bottom of the world and endure the long night that comes with it.

Robert Schwartz is in his 13th year of staying at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station during the winter. Located at the 90ºS, the facility is now in the midst of a long six-month night, although the skies overhead are often filled with stunning auroras. So what does Schwartz do to survive these periods of extreme cold and isolation? He told ExWeb his job is to maintain several microwave telescopes to ensure that they continue to collect data and operate throughout the winter. He is the only person from his project that is there during the winter months.

The scientist also talks about the changes he has seen at the South Pole station over the years, including switching to a new venue and an increase in the number of personnel for the winter months. When he started, that number was just 28, but this year it has risen to 46 in total.

Schwartz says that the teams are always busy working on some project or another, which makes the time go by faster than you would expect. He indicates that they do look forward to three key events, which include the equinox in March, which is when the sun sets, Midwinter solstices, and the the equinox in September when the sun returns at long last.

For those of us fascinated with the frozen continent, this is an interesting article to say the least. If you've ever wondered what life was like at the South Pole Station during the winter months, this will provide some insights. Check out the full story here.

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