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Employment in Antarctica

Stations / Ships / Etc:

McMurdo Station:
Located on Ross Island, in the Ross Sea region the station was established in December 1955. It is the logistics hub of the U.S. Antarctic Program, with a harbor, landing strips on sea ice and shelf ice, and a helicopter pad. Its 85 or so buildings range in size from a small radio shack to large, three-story structures. Repair facilities, dormitories, administrative buildings, a firehouse, power plant, water distillation plant, wharf, stores, clubs, warehouses, and the first class Crary Lab are linked by above-ground water, sewer, telephone, and power lines.

Population: Peak summer population can exceed 1,100; winter population is about 250.

Weather:
Records: +46F (+8C) to -58F (-50C)
Summer Mean: +26F (-3C)
Winter Mean: -18F (-28C)
Annual Mean: 0F (-18F)


South Pole Station:
Americans have occupied the geographic South Pole continuously since November 1956. The central area of the station was rebuilt in 1975 as a geodesic dome 50 meters wide and 16 meters high that, with 14- by 24-meter steel archways, covers modular buildings, fuel bladders, and equipment. Detached buildings house instruments for monitoring the upper and lower atmosphere and for numerous and complex projects in astronomy and astrophysics. There is an emergency camp. A number of science and berthing structures were added in the 1990s, particularly for astronomy and astrophysics.

A new elevated research station is now being constructed on site and will replace the dome by 2006.

Population: Some 28 scientists and support personnel winter at the station, and 200 or more people work there during the summer.

Weather:
Extremes: +8F (-13.6C) to -117F (- 82.8C).
Summer Mean: -18F (-28C)
Winter Mean: -76F (-60C)
Annual mean: -56F (-49C)


Palmer Station:
Palmer Station is located on a protected harbor on the southwestern coast of Anvers Island off the Antarctica Peninsula. Palmer is the only U.S. Antarctic station north of the Antarctic Circle. The station, built on solid rock, consists of two major buildings and three small ones, plus two large fuel tanks, a helicopter pad, and a dock. Construction was completed in 1968.

Population: Somewhat over 40 people can occupy Palmer in the summer. Wintering population is about 10.

Weather:
Extremes: -24F (-31C) to +48F (+9C)
Summer Mean: +35F (+2C)
Winter Mean: +14F (-10F)
Annual Mean: +26F (-3C)


Field Camps
Major Camps: During some summer seasons, USAP establishes and operates one or more major summer research camps in areas of particular scientific interest. Typically these camps consist of Jamesways (quickly erected structures made of canvas and wood), and they support a population of 40 to 60 during the November-January period.

Huts: If summer research projects are expected to continue over several seasons at the same location, huts may be erected. Huts, which can be expected to last for several years, provide space, stable working areas, and comfort not achievable with tents.

Tents: Small parties requiring temporary shelter use single- or double-walled tents of several designs, both modern and traditional.


R/V Laurence M. Gould
The R/V Laurence M.Gould, was built in 1997 by Edison Chousest Offshore, Inc., Galliano, Louisiana. The Gould is a 76 meters in length, and is ice-strengthened (Ice class ABS A1) . The Gould replaces the R/V Polar Duke, which was chartered by NSF from 1985-1997. The Gould, a multi-disciplinary research platform, is designed for year-round polar operations and can accommodate 26 research scientists for missions up to 75 days long.

 


R/V Nathaniel B. Palmer
In 1992, Edison Chouest Offshore Inc., Galliano, Louisiana, built and delivered a 94-meter research ship with icebreaking capability for use by the U.S. Antarctic Program for 10 years or more. The ship, Nathaniel B. Palmer, is a first-rate platform for global change studies, including biological, oceanographic, geological, and geophysical components. It can operate safely year-round in Antarctic waters that often are stormy or covered with sea ice. It accommodates 37 scientists, has a crew of 22, and is capable of 75-day missions.


Icebreakers: Polar Star / Polar Sea
A Polar-class, America's most powerful icebreaker, operates annually in the Antarctic. Either the Polar Star or the Polar Sea deploys to Antarctica each year to break a channel through McMurdo Sound and perform other logistics tasks. A Polar-class icebreaker is 122 meters long and displaces 13,400 metric tons. Its diesel engines provide 13,400 kilowatts for normal operations. When required for icebreaking, gas turbines can be operated to increase the power to nearly 45,000 kilowatts. In open water the ship cruises at 13 knots; maximum speed is 17 knots. The ship carries two helicopters. Crew size is 154; the ship can accommodate 20 scientists.