Tag Archives: antarctica

300 club.

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Membership to one of the most exclusive clubs in the world takes place around a short red and white striped pole in Antarctica. Only those who endure an atmospheric difference of 300 degrees Fahrenheit are granted entry.

To join the elite 300 Club, residents at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, where on winter days the outside temperature dips below -100 degrees, must bare it all. It’s an odd tradition, one that comes with a high risk of frostbite in rather sensitive, traditionally clothed areas.

To join the exclusive group, the scientists must first spend time in the station’s 200-degree sauna. Once they’re fully cooked, they dash outside (at a brisk walk, because running is dangerous) wearing nothing but shoes and an optional neck gaiter to circle the ceremonial South Pole marker, which is hundreds of feet from the station. They then get back into the steamy sauna, which helps thaw their outsides while a bit of alcohol warms them up inside. Those who complete the challenge even earn a commemorative patch.

Though the thought of a naked scientist racing across the ice in dangerously cold temperatures to circle a pole may seem simply absurd, it’s actually a beloved ritual. The temperature only gets low enough a handful of days each year, giving the wacky tradition an almost ceremonial feel. Participants are usually cheered on by bystanders who use flashlights to guide them to the pole during the perpetual winter blackness.

The marker isn’t even the true location of the South Pole. Antarctica is blanketed by massive chunks of moving ice sheets that move about 30 feet each year. The ice’s inability to sit still makes pinpointing the world’s most southern spot with permanent precision impossible.

Finding and marking the accurate geographic South Pole is an annual (fully clothed) New Year’s Day tradition for those staying at the station. Every year since 1959, South Pole residents erect a new temporary marker at the spot and retire the old one into a display case inside the station. The ceremonial South Pole remains where it is, flanked by the flags, awaiting the next group of winter scientists hoping to join one of the world’s weirdest clubs.

“we take to the breeze, we go as we please.” 

― E.B. White

 

story credits: Atlas obscura, kerry wolf

photo credits:  martin wolf – national science foundation,

craig knott – national science foundation, alan light

going south.

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snowbirds get out of michigan

and head home to the south pole 

for a bit of warmer weather.

Ann Arbor expected to be colder than South Pole on Wednesday

The South Pole in Antarctica is expected to be balmier than Ann Arbor on Wednesday, Jan. 30. The Ann Arbor area, like most of Michigan, is on track to experience a blast of bitterly cold Arctic air Wednesday that could beat temperatures down to record lows, the National Weather Service says.

As of 2 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 29, the weather service projects temperatures as low as 19 below zero Wednesday. Meanwhile, 8 degrees below zero is forecast at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica, where it is summer. If the forecast proves accurate, the former low temperature record for Jan. 30, 11 degrees below zero, set in 1911, will be broken, according to data provided by University of Michigan climate research scientist Frank J. Marsik.

The National Weather Service also issued a wind chill warning to take effect at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 29 through 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 31. The wind child is expected to dip to between 25 and 40 degrees below zero, cold enough to cause the onset of frostbite to exposed skin in as little as 10 minutes. The governor of Michigan has declared a state of emergency.

“let it go.”
― elsa the snow queen – frozen

 

 

 

 credits: mlive.com, gus burns, national weather service, hallmark cards

cold calling.

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Would You Live in an Antarctic Penguin Post Office?
Applications soar at post office in Port Lockroy, Antarctica

 

Job location: A soccer field-sized island in Port Lockroy, Antarctica.

Job duties: Process 700,000 pieces of mail, teach 18,000 cruise ship visitors and monitor 2,000 stinky penguins in less-than-ideal conditions.

Sound like a dream job? If so, you’re not the only one—officials at the U.K. Antarctic Heritage Trust say that they’ve received over 1,500 applications for a job at the “Penguin Post Office,” up from just 82 last year.
The BBC reports that the post office on Goudier Island has “comfortable” living conditions, but the lodgings aren’t exactly hotel-quality. With no power grid, heat or hot water, limited communications and 24-hour daylight, applicants must be willing to withstand harsh Antarctic conditions to apply. In return, they will receive a $1700 per month stipend and spend the summer as the stewards of the island’s thousands of gentoo penguins.

For over a decade, the island has been home to a wildlife study aimed at collecting environmental data about how humans impact penguin populations. But though the island is popular with cruise ship visitors, it’s carefully regulated to protect the penguins, and the entire eastern half of the tiny island is off-limits even to post office protectors.

  When this year’s four winning applicants take possession of the island from November through March, they’ll take their place alongside the 4,000 scientists who study in Antarctica throughout the summer.

 

credits: smithsonian.com, eric blakemore, bbc, pbs