As you make the last preparations for the festive period, spare a thought for those who will be working away in Antarctica for British Antarctic Survey. Over 300 staff, scientists and support staff, will spend Christmas Day either on the BAS research ship, at one of the five research stations or in the deep field living on the ice.
If you are looking for a white Christmas then spending the festive period in Antarctica is a pretty safe bet. However, being on the otherside of the world Christmas falls right in the middle of the Antarctica summer so, unlike the long winter nights of home, everyone will be enjoying Christmas in 24 hours sunlight.
Rothera Research Station
The chefs at Rothera are busy preparing a Christmas dinner for almost 140 people currently living and working on station. The nearest shop is on the other side of the Drake Passage which means that everything for the Christmas table has either arrived by ship back in May or a small amount of ‘freshies’ flown in with the summer crew. Rest assured that there will still be brussel sprouts – even in Antarctica.
To help get the station into a festive mood, decorations have gone up in the lounge and dining room. For the wintering team, who have already spent over a year on the ice, the appearance of a tree, real or not, is enough to bring a smile to their faces.
For those really looking to get into the Christmas spirit, a Christmas grotto has been set up in the sewing loft of Fuchs House where it’s possible to enjoy watching classic holiday films sitting amongst the sheepskins and sleeping bags that form the cosy sleeping system for those heading out into the deep field.
Although staff will be having a day off here at Rothera there are still some jobs to do. The Met team will be launching a weather balloon and taking weather observations through the day and there are science parties still out in the field enjoying a simpler Christmas dinner cooked on a primus stove in a tent. The operations team at Rothera will be checking in with those in the field as well as at Fossil Bluff and Sky Blu during the daily scheds and might even be able to persuade some carol singers to head up to the Tower to get into the festive spirit.
King Edward Point Research Station
It is going to be a busy Christmas at KEP. There are a number of cruise ships coming in over the festive period and the two scientists, Meghan and Kate will be on board the Seaborne Quest early on Christmas Eve talking about the Science at KEP and life on station. Christmas eve may also be the day that the new four residents arrive, a mixture of wharf project staff, BAS staff and the Government. So what with station inductions and possible cargo it won’t be a Christmas of snoozing in front of the telly and watching the Queen’s speech!
The team are planning carol singing in the Church on Christmas Eve – a kind of early midnight mass – and on Christmas Day itself, we are going to have a Christmas BBQ and pizza extravaganza so that people can come and go as work dictates. The two chefs have been experimenting with Christmas pudding on the barbeque and traditionally Christmas inspired pizzas. Pizza topped with turkey, brussel sprouts and gravy anyone?! Fingers crossed for some bright and warm South Atlantic sun.
Signy Island Research Station
The Signy team plans to finish work on Christmas Eve and everything will be weather dependant. If the weather allows then they’ll go for a hike or if not stay in and watch a film. Several of the team will make phone calls to family and friends, so whatever happens it’ll be very relaxed, with people dipping in and out of things.
On Christmas Day the station leader is cooking the Christmas dinner as usual, this gives everyone else the day off cooking duties. After a full dinner with all the trimmings, the team will head outside and enjoy what Signy has to offer.
Boxing day is normally be a day off at Signy but this year three of the team are heading out to Foca hut on the West coast to carry out various scientific field studies.
Bird Island Research Station
Christmas falls within one of our busiest periods on station so the day is filled with our usual fieldwork schedule with a very big lunch in the middle. It’s the peak of the summer breeding season, so there are lots of fur seals with young pups, penguins and albatross chicks hatching and the season’s visiting scientists undertaking their research projects. The station is already feeling festive as there is a Christmas tree in the lounge and several decorations. Lunch will be a traditional turkey with all the trimmings along with mulled wine and minced pies. Throughout the day everyone has a time slot to call home and chat to friends and family. We’ll end the day watching a classic Christmas film together.
Halley Research Station
The season is in full swing at Halley Research Station. A team of around 30 personnel are carrying out essential science experiments and maintenance on site. Christmas Day is a routine work day but the chefs will be spoiling everyone with a full festive dinner of turkey and all the trimmings.