Kathy Licht, an “old hat” of Antarctic field research and part of the Antarctica’s Secrets team, shares her impressions how it feels to be back on the ice.
January 03, 2011
It’s great to be back on this amazing continent. I certainly never tire of the beauty of this place. Well, I wouldn’t call McMurdo a beautiful place, but it is buzzing with activity and provides great support for the scientists. Things are much the same here as 4 years ago when I was last on the ice. Dozens of science groups work out of McMurdo station, which acts as a hub of activity for a wide range of scientists, including geologists, biologists, glaciologists and atmospheric scientists.
McMurdo Station is the largest Antarctic station and the logistic hub of US-lead Antarctic research
Many groups, like ours, utilize McMurdo as a place to organize field gear for camping trips to distant sites on the continent to collect samples. Others groups stay in McMurdo to conduct experiments on samples collected nearby. All the science groups have small offices and some work on high tech equipment here in the Crary Lab. This is an amazing resource, particularly in terms of support staff who really work hard to help us out.
An exciting new addition to the local scenery is the small group of windmills erected to generate power for this energy hungry place. My understanding is that this effort was led by the New Zealanders, whose base (Scott Base) in only about a mile away. Luckily, the international cooperation between the NZ and US Antarctic programs means that McMurdo is benefitting from this great ‘green’ experiment in power generation.
Mt. Erebus (77°32'S, 167°10'E), Ross Island, Antarctica is the world's southernmost active volcano
McMurdo station rests on the South West tip of Ross Island, which is dominated by the active volcano, Mt. Erebus. As a current resident of the rather flat state of Indiana, I take pleasure in temporarily living on the flanks of a volcano rising more than 12,000 ft above sea level, with its nearly perpetual puff of smoke at the summit.