Friday, 28 October 2016

Your questions: What it's like living there

What’s the population? Do people live there permanently?
The overall population would be bigger in summer than in winter, because most people go down there in the summer. About 37,000 tourists visit Antarctica each year, but they don't all go ashore. 
But nobody lives permanently in Antarctica (and it has never had an indigenous population). There are about 66 bases owned by different countries. Some of them are quite big (like the American base at McMurdo) and others very small. One estimate is about 4000 people living on all the bases in the summer and about 1000 in the winter. On Scott Base, there are up to 85 people at any one time in the summer (but a lot of people coming and going), and about 10 during the winter. 
Most people go to Antarctica to work on scientific projects. They might stay for a few weeks, or a year, and they might come back another time to keep working on their project, but they wouldn't stay there forever. Other people are there to help keep the bases operating - they might be engineers, cleaners, cooks, mechanics or drivers.   

How many layers of clothes do you have to wear?
It depends on the weather and the season and what you are doing. Inside Scott Base, you can wear what you might wear at home. But whenever you go outside, even for a short time, you have to think carefully about what to wear and how to put the layers on in the right order. 
Have a look at this video (you have to scroll down the page) on What to wear in Antarctica. See if you can count and identify how many items of clothing she puts on.  

Could you snow board there?
At Scott Base, you can go cross-country and downhill skiing and mountain biking. I wasn't sure about snowboarding, but then I found this photo. So maybe you can!

Santa snowboarding at Scott Base, Photo by Yvonne Martin
©Antarctica New Zealand Pictorial Collection [Image No] [1991-1992]
Is it hard to live there because of the cold?
Well, it is cold. 

Do people live in igloos? 
Most people live in the buildings on bases, or if they're out in the field, they might live in tents or even converted containers. 

Do you eat disgusting food? 
No! The food at Scott Base is apparently pretty amazing!

Becky Goodsell was Winter Base Leader at Scott Base in 2013, and she did an online interview about "What I Do" that you can read here. She said,  "The chef is the most important person on base for many reasons! Yes, the food is very good. In winter it pretty much all comes from the freezer or our dry goods store, but thankfully our chef makes it exciting. My favourites: Thai Green Curry, Sweet n sour pork, Roasts, the cakes & biscuits, and sometimes the traditional kiwi fish n chips nights served in newspaper."

If you can find a copy of School Journal  Part 4 Number 1 (2006), you can read my article Frozen food, about one of the Scott Base chefs, Donna Wightman. 

Why do people want to live down there?
Here's Becky Goodsell again: "I think it started out being the place, which is definitely the best place on earth, but these days it's mainly about the people. The environment is stunning but it's also a great bunch of people to work with." (That's an interesting quote. Where do you think is the best place on earth?)

Do they have shops?
There is a gift shop at Scott Base. Just one! You can buy souvenirs, toiletries, phone cards, stamps and snacks. 
Shop at Scott Base, Photo by Chris Rudge
©Antarctica New Zealand Pictorial Collection [1987-1988]
Do you get wi fi there?
Good news and bad news. You can get news from home via letters, phone calls and emails. There is enough Internet for you to use gmail and Facebook, but not enough to use applications like Skype and You tube. But wi fi - I'm guessing not...

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