Scott Base crew strip off in heat

21:38, Feb 17 2009
HOT AND COLD: Scott Base coordinator Yvonne Boesterling, domestic coordinator Sharron Revell, and carpenter Martin Wenzel on Hut Point Peninsula, near Scott Base, Antarctica, which has been experiencing an unsual heatwave.

Like much of the South Island, Scott Base has been basking in a summer heatwave - Antarctic style.

While temperatures in Canterbury have climbed into the 30s, the Antarctica New Zealand crew has watched the temperature rise to a sweltering 3deg.

Scott Base co-ordinator Yvonne Boesterling said that definitely felt warm compared with the norm.

"There were people outside in T-shirts. I didn't think it would get this warm in Antarctica.

"When it's zero degrees in Christchurch, it's still really cold," she said.

"You don't open the door or wind down the window in the car, but here you do."


Boesterling said the temperature was so mild yesterday when she and her colleagues travelled to Hut Point Peninsula to walk on a glacier that they had to open the window in the Hagglund, an amphibian over-snow tracked vehicle.

She was able to walk in shirt sleeves, although she carried extreme cold weather clothing.

The heat has also affected the neighbouring American base, McMurdo Station.

A dozen workers hosted a beach party with deck chairs overlooking the still-frozen sea ice.

An icebreaker is due to arrive next month to break open a channel for the cargo and fuel ships that resupply McMurdo Station and Scott Base.

The beach party proved hazardous, with some succumbing to sunburn in the ozone-depleted atmosphere.

Meanwhile, the MetService has extended its marine forecasts and warnings service to the Antarctic ice-edge to cater for the increase in tourism in the sub-Antarctic region.

Spokesman Rod Stainer said last month's sinking of the MS Explorer, after it hit an iceberg south of Argentina in the Southern Ocean, highlighted the potential dangers of growth in adventure tourism.

The new service covered the open seas of the Southern Ocean from Australia to the eastern Pacific, to the the Antarctic ice-edge, and would help vessels avoid the worst weather, he said.

"It is timely that we are extending our forecasts to cover these frigid waters.

"It also provides our meteorologists with new challenges," Stainer said.

Maritime New Zealand deputy director of safety and response services Peter Williams said the service would help ships' captains make better decisions and would assist in search and rescue work in the area.


The Press