On the Ice

14 Jan: Training, Safety First!

Hello Everyone!

It has been a busy first few days here at McMurdo Station. Most of the time has been filled up with training (yes, training), meetings, and even a brief weekend break. We work 6-day weeks here, with Sunday off. (And even some science keeps going on Sundays). I’ve also been very fortunate to visit with colleagues I have not seen in some years who work very hard here at McMurdo Station to make all of the work we do possible.

First, before you can do any work out in the field, we must be trained on how to live, work, and operate all sorts of things both in McMurdo as well as out in the deep field. Hence, since arriving, we have completed the following training activities:

Light Vehicle Driver Training (and I had to do a driver’s test!)
Fire Safety
Waste Management
Environmental Awareness
Antarctic Field Safety
Outdoor Safety
Helicopter operations

Attached are photos of going through a full survival bag, so we know how to handle all of it. We practice lighting stoves, setting up tents, how to stay healthy and manage risks. Also, you can see, there is no “trash” here in Antarctica – but we do separation of all waste at source, with a 65% recycling rate. I think the US is half of that figure or so. And yes, when in the field, we bring EVERYTHING back…everything…for waste management and recycling. So, I will be bringing a Pee bottle with me on my day trips to work on the weather stations. Beyond this I had several planning meetings for planning our actual work. Now we start to dig into flying/driving places hopefully before the week is out! (Once things are scheduled)

Contents of Survival Bag

Waste bins outside of Crary

Waste bins inside the buildings

This weekend, had a nice spot of weather with temperatures around 30°F, calm winds, and sunny skies. Hence, I got to walk out to Hut Point Peninsula – just next to the station. Here I was able to get photos of some seals, and yes, the US Coast Guard Icebreaker Polar Star has arrived! It is cutting a channel for resupply and research vessels to visit McMurdo station in the coming weeks. Also located here is Scott’s Hut – a hut built by Sir Robert Falcon Scott, during the heroic age of exploration of Antarctica. The hut is still here, and is now a protected area – you have to have a permit to enter the hut. Inside, you find all of the items Scott, and others who used the hut, left behind, as they left them (things really don’t degrade away here that much in Antarctica). Also in the background, you can see the “ice pier” (covered with the volcanic rock found here (there is no “dirt” here). The ships will be docking in what is known as Winter Quarter’s Bay – one of the southern most points in the world you can sail a ship. At the very tip of Hut Point is a cross in honor of George T. Vince – a member of Scott’s 1901 crew. He died falling off the “Danger Slopes” in a blizzard back in 1902, and slipped into the sea/ice below. The tip of the peninsula itself has now “calved” off into the ocean and made an even steeper cliff into the water below. Also in the photo is a view of McMurdo Station as it is today, as well as Observation Hill on the other side of the station.


US Coast Guard Icebreaker

Scott’s Hut

Vince’s Cross at Hut Point with Observation Hill and McMurdo in the backgroun

There are a series of talks/presentations given here at McMurdo Station. One is the Sunday lecture. This lecture is attended by most folks on station. The largest spot is the galley where we have our meals. This week’s presentation was on some of the historical figures who explored the Antarctic – especially ones like Vince – who are not well known, but were a part of the early exploration and early science accomplished here in Antarctica. Folks such as Crozier, Vince, Ross, McMurdo were discussed. Many impressive folks that did great work that aren’t household names, and collectively paved the way for modern Antarctic science.

More later in the week!

Best Regards,


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