Regarded as the “international continent”, Antarctica is a place of worldwide cooperation, peace, and scientific discovery. There are currently 70 permanent research stations scattered across the continent of Antarctica, which represent 29 countries from every continent on Earth. Together, these countries, or ‘signatories’ of the Antarctic Treaty, must ensure the preservation and wellbeing of the natural land, and to cooperate with their fellow explorers. Each signatory of the treaty maintains either year round or seasonal stations throughout Antarctica. Some countries even maintain both, in order to maximize the amount of seasonal research that can be conducted.
The history behind the establishment of these stations hasn’t always been glamorous. Not only is it difficult to travel to Antarctica in the first place, but there’s an immense amount of work that goes into building and maintaining these stations, some of which hold up to 1,200 people at peak summer hours. Still, the human spirit persists, and has resulted in the construction of some of the most amazing and interesting places on Earth. Continue reading from Oceanwide Expeditions
The McMurdo Station, established in December 1955, is a United States Antarctic research center on the south tip of Ross Island on the shore of McMurdo Sound. It is built on the bare volcanic rock of Hut Point Peninsula on Ross Island, the most southerly solid ground that is accessible by ship. It is located just 20 miles south of Mt. Erebus, an active volcano that steams continually and erupts frequently though not violently. It is operated by the United States through the United States Antarctic Program (USAP), a branch of the National Science Foundation.
The station is the largest community in Antarctica, capable of supporting over 1,200 residents in summer and 300 in winter. As the logistical hub of the USAP, it has a harbor, landing strips on sea 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, stores, and warehouses are linked by above-ground water, sewer, telephone and power lines. All personnel and cargo going to or coming from Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station first pass through McMurdo.
Research disciplines at McMurdo include astronomy, atmospheric sciences, biology, Earth science, environmental science, geology, glaciology, marine biology, oceanography, climate studies, and geophysics. The Crary Lab contains state-of-the-art instrumentation to facilitate research and to advance science and technology. It has laboratory space, analytical instrumentation and staging areas for a range of scientific disciplines. The lab has five pods: a core pod, a biology pod, an Earth sciences pod, an atmospheric sciences pod, and an aquarium. Other facilities are maintained for atmospheric sciences and other disciplines. Continue reading from NASA