EMPLOYMENT - HOME
Employment in Antarctica
What It's Like:
Life on a research station:
Work week: At US Research Stations support staff usually work a minimum of 9 hours a day, 6 days a week. There are times when more hours are required such as at McMurdo Station when the resupply vessel arrives. During "ship offload" support personnel are expected to work 12 hours a day until the ship departs.
Housing: The primary research stations (McMurdo, South Pole, and Palmer) have many similarities in their living conditions and creature comforts.
Daylight & Darkness: Much of Antarctica enjoys one long day (summer) and one long night (winter) each year with weeks of sunrise and sunset in between (spring/fall). There are spectacular displays of aurora australis (southern lights) during the winter darkness.
Recreation: Each station has a library, small gym, pool table, weight room, sauna, bar, and televisions and VCRs. McMurdo (the most comfortable station) even has recreation personnel arranging music lessons, dances, and other social events. Each station allows walks, x-c skiing and some limited hiking.
Communications: Computers are available at all stations 24 hours a day for Email, Internet and personal use. Satellite links restrict connection times to the Internet though. Telephones are available using your own credit card, but again limited by satellite link. Ham radios are available for calls to the US, but are limited by operators and signal strength.
Vehicles: Each station has a wide range of transportation ranging from snowmobiles, enclosed tracked vehicles to vans, trucks and passenger carriers. All vehicles are not available for personal use but for science or in support of science.
What should I pack? Prescription medications to last the entire season and then some, personal toilet articles, over-the-counter pain killers and cold relievers, your favorite indoor clothing, special cold weather clothing (in addition to issue clothing), towel & washcloth, prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses and supplies, recreation gear (skis, bike, music instrument), CD/Cassette Player and discs/tapes, camera & film, gym clothes, alarm clock, your favorite slippers/bathrobe, specialty food (good coffee, gourmet chocolate, etc.).
Antarctic Clothing: If you are being employed under the US Antarctic Program you will be issued Extreme Cold Weather (ECW) clothing on your way through New Zealand (McMurdo, South Pole) or Chili (Palmer) that is more than adequate to protect you, head to toe, from just about all the elements that Antarctica can throw at you.
Life at a Field Camp:
Some Important Terms: