Archive for the ‘Antarctica’ Category

Antarctica Bites Back

Saturday, October 11th, 2008

The past week has been rather dramatic on the continent, and we’ve been busy playing a small role.

Eight days ago a member of the Norwegian team at Troll, 200 km east of SANAE IV, suffered a fracture to his ankle.  It’s a bad enough injury that he needs to be evacuated to surgical care in South Africa, but this has taken some significant time and preparation.  Early yesterday a rescue flight was launched, which had to be turned back due to the deteriorating weather at Troll.  We’re involved with assisting the communications, flight following and weather forecasting/reporting, but feel gutted that we are unable to help our ‘neighbours’ in any other way.  The massive Jutulstraumen Glacier lies between us and Troll, and although it is technically possible to reach their base in desperation, the risk still outweighs the benefit.  Furthermore, the large tracts of blue ice at Troll form a natural runway for wheeled aircraft, whereas we can only offer a snow skiway.  In the meantime, we can only offer moral support and continue with the forecasts and phone-calls

If the injury at Troll was not enough to cause worry, we have also just heard about a catastrophic fire at the Russian Antarctic Expedition’s Progress Station.  Progress is far from SANAE IV, on the coast of at roughly 70°W.  During the night of 5 October a fire burnt out of control, destroying one building.  Tragically, one member of the 29-person team is still missing, and it is presumed that they were unable to escape before the building collapsed.  Fortunately, the medical facility, food stores and some older accomodation units were spared, and with the assistance of the Chinese team from the nearby Zhongshan base, they are in no immediate further danger.  Having had our own scare with fire earlier this year, our hearts go out to the Russians.

Ross does David Attenborough

Friday, October 3rd, 2008

The discovery of a snow petrel frozen into the ice near the base inspires an impromptu sound-bite in the style of my boyhood hero and idol, Sir David Attenborough.  I used to be able to recite his ‘Life’ series shows almost to the word through repetitive, rapt watching.  Cheers to the BBC and down with MTV, for the sake of our youth!


Thanks to Sanki for the recording.

NB – SANAE IV Telephone Number Change

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008

Important note – due to upgrades to the system, the telephone numbers for SANAE IV will be changing with immediate effect. The new general telephone numbers will be:

Voice: +2721 405 9450
Fax: +2721 405 9454

The Iridium satellite telephone number remains the same. (The relevant parties who need this number can find it in the DROMLAN SAR plan and COMNAP documentation. If you don’t know what this is, don’t worry, as it means you don’t need the number.)

You are more than welcome to call us at the base for a chat or to make enquiries. If calling from South Africa, normal telephone charges apply (you don’t pay for the connection to Antarctica), but remember that you are 2 hours ahead of us and therefore it is preferable if you don’t phone at 07h00 SA time. However, we’re always available when required.