Antarctica -3 Dangerous
I’m McKensie Daugherty, your host for On the Ocean. The Antarctic is a beautiful place, with many scientific discoveries just waiting to be made. However, there are many challenges that come with working in the coldest place on earth, far away from any human civilization. The distance from populations poses a problem in resources. To the many thousands of researchers on the continent, things like food and basic supplies are in high demand. However, the continent is too far for a round trip by air, and the winds are incredibly dangerous to fly in. Therefore, the interactions between Antarctic researchers and their home countries are by ice breakers, the ships equipped to handle the thick ice needed to pass through to get to research stations, such as McMurdo station, of the United States. These ships are required to carry at least 2 years worth of food onboard for every mission, in the event they get stuck or need to resupply another station. Another challenge is the time it takes to get to the continent. It takes an average of 7 to 10 days to sail across the circumpolar current flowing around Antarctica in the coldest, windiest place on earth. Ice breakers have reinforced hulls, but they are still vulnerable to icey dangers like ridges that can penetrate a hull and endanger the ship. Ice breakers can also get stuck, causing a massive delay and potentially requiring outside help. The strong winds can keep ships away from the continent, and cause severe frostbite to the crew if they are above deck. The waves too, are incredibly strong, causing problems for the ships and those aboard them. One of the greater dangers are icebergs, a large piece of frozen freshwater that has broken off from shelf ice or a glacier. These are incredibly dangerous, as the strong winds can cause huge chunks of ice to break off at any moment. Ships try to avoid icebergs, to prevent this ice from falling on them, or to get hit by the massive underwater part of the floating iceberg, which could have sharp peaks or ridges. This has been On the Ocean, a program made possible by the Department of Oceanography and a production of KAMU-FM on the campus of Texas A&M University in College Station. For more information and links, please go to ocean.tamu.edu and click On the Ocean.
Contributing Professor: Dr. Chrissy Wiederwohl
R.V.I. Nathanial Palmer with ice scratches in the Antarctic
Scientists Deplaning in Antarctica