British Antarctic Survey (BAS) are celebrating Midwinter’s Day in Antarctica. In a tradition which began in the days of Captain Scott, today’s event (Friday 21 June) marks the shortest, and darkest, day of the year. This year’s science and support teams will brave the elements for a long distance run (weather permitting) followed by a festive meal and exchange of gifts that the team members have made for one another. A special highlight is the annual Midwinter broadcast on the BBC’s World Service which includes messages from loved ones.
This year’s broadcast on the World Service will be aired at 21:30 GMT tonight and lasts for half an hour. It is presented by BBC radio presenter Cerys Matthews and contains greetings from families, work colleagues and several VIP guests. It’s on frequencies: 7360kHz, 9455kHz and 5875kHz.
The Prime Minister, Theresa May, has sent a message of support.
In her own message to staff BAS Director, Jane Francis, says:
“I know you are far away in the cold and dark, but you play a really vital part in the amazing science that BAS does.
“The measurements that you are making down in Antarctica, even through the winter, play a really key part in the evidence we are collecting to figure out how Antarctica is responding to climate change. And this is really important, because what happens in Antarctica affects the rest of the world.”
BAS has three stations which it operates over the winter months; Bird Island, Kind Edward Point and Rothera. There are currently 35 staff based at these stations. They include scientists, electricians, plumbers, chefs and doctors.
Staff will celebrate with breakfast cooked by the station leaders, special meals and the exchange of handmade gifts. Other activities will include the ever popular Midwinter Olympics at King Edward Point, pub quizzes and a Bake Off at Bird Island.
If you wish to tweet greetings to those working in Antarctica then please use #BASmidwinter.