It's all north from here
February 14, 2011 10:06 AM   Subscribe

Last February work was completed on the South Pole Station. Curious how all that material gets to the bottom of the world? Not enough time to sit through YouTube goodness? Catch up on the latest research or just get a dose of cuteness. (my first post here...go easy on me!)
posted by ironbob (20 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
OH GOD I HOPE THEY DON'T FALL OFF!
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 10:12 AM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Operation Deep Freeze (the bottom of the world links) is fascinating, thanks for sharing.

Whether or not you think the armed forces are bloated, they sure get to do some interesting work. In a way, I'm sure the logistics the Air Force is working with supplying Antarctic research will one day provide the groundwork for interplanetary exploration. If the armed forces could guarantee non-violent, scientific work upon enrollment, I would have seriously considered that path.
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:24 AM on February 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I knew I forgot something! Werner Herzog's film "Encounters at the End of World" is widely available on your favorite streaming media source. Sure beats another YouTube link!
posted by ironbob at 10:43 AM on February 14, 2011


Curious how all that material gets to the bottom of the world?

For a place that is supposed to belong to all nations, it seems absolutely improper for scientists to accept the transport assistance of the U.S. Air National Guard.

They aren't making those flights for charity you know.

If the armed forces could guarantee non-violent, scientific work upon enrollment, I would have seriously considered that path.

Everything about the armed forces is ultimately about violence. That's why the call them armed forces. And that why (IMHO) they have no business down there.
posted by three blind mice at 10:44 AM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks ironbob; since you first mentioned that you're working 'down' there, I've been eagerly waiting for you to post on it!
posted by artof.mulata at 10:47 AM on February 14, 2011


For a place that is supposed to belong to all nations, it seems absolutely improper for scientists to accept the transport assistance of the U.S. Air National Guard.

Really? Why is it improper for a government agency to help out as opposed to say, a corporation that's in it for the money? Or is your problem that it's part of the armed forces and not some other part of the government?

Everything about the armed forces is ultimately about violence.

So... you disapprove of the Army Corps of Engineers building levees to defend cities from flooding?

Look, yes, the military is first and foremost a tool of controlled violence. But it's not like everything it does is directly perfectly linked to violence against human beings and it's therefore impossible to interact with it without contributing to human suffering. By that logic shopkeepers should refuse to sell things to soldiers because ultimately that's supporting violence.
posted by Tomorrowful at 10:56 AM on February 14, 2011


Looks like they're making IKEA furniture there.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:29 AM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


By that logic shopkeepers should refuse to sell things to soldiers because ultimately that's supporting violence.

A tertiary argument. It looks to me very much like one of those peacetime exercises that has as it's point the conduct of potential war in a region which is "ideally" neutral turf, owned by all.

So... you disapprove of the Army Corps of Engineers building levees to defend cities from flooding?

Not at all, but I would also understand that building levees is a peacetime exercise for an organisation that in war builds fortifications. It's not the Peace Corps of Engineers, or maybe I am giving them more credit as soldiers than they deserve?
posted by three blind mice at 11:30 AM on February 14, 2011


I couldn't help noticing, as I was paging through Antarctic Connection's section on Shackleton's expedition, they scroll temperature readings from the various stations scattered around Antarctica. They range from 21F (the UK station) down to -91F (the Russian station). Now that's cold!
posted by tommasz at 11:47 AM on February 14, 2011


Don't forget, tommasz, that it is summer down there at the moment.
posted by bashos_frog at 12:04 PM on February 14, 2011


It's a little late in the season so the weather is getting a little sketchier(no more beer runs in T-shirt & shorts) It's generally 0-10F during the "day," but we had a solid week of -15F days. Here's a little example of what is right around the corner: Condition I at McMurdo Station.

I suppose I should apologize (a bit late) for my shameless romantic fascination with this place.
posted by ironbob at 12:26 PM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I should say, I find the idea that one can go for beer runs on Antarctica entirely charming.
posted by hippybear at 12:29 PM on February 14, 2011


Here's a nice NYTimes article on the McMurdo Marathon. The woman they interview near the beginning - Gracie Sorbello - previously went across the US on a unicycle. I went on a couple bike rides with her a few years ago, and it was surprising to find she was not only in Antartica, but placing in marathons there, as well!
posted by kaibutsu at 1:13 PM on February 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wow, and I completely forgot the link.

Let's pretend we don't exist.... Let's pretend we're in Antarctica...
posted by kaibutsu at 1:16 PM on February 14, 2011


From friends who have worked there, I am told that the South Pole is a great place to pick up guys.
posted by kyrademon at 1:24 PM on February 14, 2011


Well, now that I know that beer runs are possible, all I'd need is a joint I could have any of the guys I wanted!
posted by hippybear at 1:28 PM on February 14, 2011


Kaibutsu, I see Gracie almost every day. You never know who you'll meet down here. The annual rugby match, although about as fair as a Harlem Globetrotters game, is also quite fun.

Kyrademon, The ratio @ McMurdo is something like 6 to 1. The Pole is probably higher... The odds are on your side! If this story is any indication...it's a free-for-all.
posted by ironbob at 1:36 PM on February 14, 2011


For a place that is supposed to belong to all nations, it seems absolutely improper for scientists to accept the transport assistance of the U.S. Air National Guard.

Well, it's right there in Article I, tbm.

Naturally, the only reason there's an Antarctic Treaty at all is because we agreed to disagree about everybody's territorial claims, and as far as I know, none of them has ever been renounced (see Article IV). It's not so much that it "belongs to all nations" as that the nations that have the logistics capability to be there are restraining their actions by mutual agreement. Certainly, the USANG and the other Western military units that have been involved are partly there as eyes, ears, and muscle because the Antarctic was the coldest of Cold War venues.

But in truth the majority of the effort is under the National Science Foundation, private research ventures, and even most of the logistics outside of flying the planes falls to private contractors.
posted by dhartung at 3:37 PM on February 14, 2011


The NSF owns/leases the majority of the fleet of LC-130s and directly funds something like a quarter of the maintenance crews. The C-5 & C-17 that do the heavy hauling between here & New Zealand are also paid for by the NSF. There are NO military buildings/occupation/permanent residents or anything else. The Navy, with an escort of either a Russian or Swedish icebreaker, is also involved for about two weeks out of the year delivering the cargo ships at the beginning & end of the seasons. The Royal New Zealand Air Force also shares the responsibility of flying the staff & researchers back & forth. The military, like it or not, has the equipment to do the job..and frankly a plane with skis has pretty limited application elsewhere--except Greenland--that WAS military, but now serves as a hub for the research in Greenland. For the most part everyone plays nice with each other here (what happens in Washington thankfully largely stays there).

Dhartung is right about the contracting: There is a Canadian group that handles flying to smaller camps the large planes can't get to. The shuttles, cargo & food is all handled by various groups (currently run by Raytheon's Polar Services group).
posted by ironbob at 7:14 PM on February 14, 2011


Man, this SeaBee stuff... cooler than cosplay, with a little steampunk mixed in.
posted by buzzman at 8:21 PM on February 14, 2011


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