Exploring life on Antarctica

Isabel Lamb investigates the chilling realities of Antarctic life

Isabel Lamb
27th November 2020

Christmas on Antarctica falls in the summer season, a rather chilly period from October to April. Those polar scientists and their support teams living and working on the world’s southernmost continent are given no festive reprieve by the polar forces.

Antarctic life is tiring. In summer the sky is constantly light and cloudless. Light reflecting off the snow is blinding, and risk of UV exposure and burning is high. Sleep schedules, maintained by circadian rhythms synchronized to regular light conditions, are disrupted, meaning it’s easy to forget to sleep and exhaustion is common. The irregular light can also affect hormonal functions, which can exasperate depression, stress and irritability.   

Image Credit: Yuriy Rzhemovskiy via Unsplash.

Being lazy is just not an option. Scientists are there to work and tend to a lot. When they are not carrying out their specialist duties they are all pitching in to do the mundane chores and general upkeep for the base they live on. Failure to properly maintain generators, ration stores and survival equipment can literally mean the difference between life and death in this gargantuan frozen wasteland.    

When venturing away from the base you always prepare for longer than expected to avoid freezing to death or starvation, just in case you are unable to return due to extreme weather.

Luxury is about as far from reality as is possible. Bedrooms are shared and cramped so getting along with those you are going to be living on top of is essential. However such sleeping arrangements must seem blissful after being stuck in a tent off base during a snow storm. When venturing away from the base you always prepare for longer than expected to avoid freezing to death or starvation, just in case you are unable to return due to extreme weather.   

Image Credit: Dennis Rochel via Unsplash.

Living on Antarctica means overcoming psychological and physical challenges in order to survive. But despite such challenges, many continue to venture south due to the wealth of scientific knowledge that can be gained from the world’s largest desert.

Featured image shows Atmospheric Research Observatory, South Pole, Antarctica. Image Credit: NOAA via Unsplash.

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