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ZARGES Teaser Neumayer Station III

To the Antarctic with ZARGES Cases

The German Antarctic Research Center – Neumayer Station III

Newmayer Station III logoAs the first research station in the Antarctic, Neumayer Station III (operated by the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Ocean Research) is a combined building for research, operations, and living on a single platform above the surface of the snow that is connected with a garage that is built into the snow.

The platform holds a total of 100 containers inside a protective cover including living areas, a kitchen, mess room, and hospital as well as various laboratories, a radio room, bathrooms, power control room, and snow melting area. The garage below the station contains workshops, storage, refuse, and tank containers, and parking spaces for snowcats and motorized sleds. The edge of the ice shelf, where supply ships dock, is located nearly 16 kilometers away.One significant characteristic of the station is that hydraulic lifting equipment is used to compensate for the adverse effects of the accumulation of snow and ice surfaces without any building components being absorbed by the snow. A total load of approximately 2300 t is distributed across 16 foundation plates. Prior to lifting the entire station, these are pulled upward hydraulically, packed with snow, and then the entire garage area is filled with snow.

During the Antarctic winter, nine people normally live and work at the station: one doctor, who is also the station director, one meteorologist, one chemical air quality analyst, two geophysicists, one engineer, one electrician, one radio operator/electronics specialist, and one cook. These long-term winter residents stay 14 to 15 months. For nine months, they are only connected to the outside world by radio.

Where is the station located?

Ekström Shelf Ice, Atka Bay, north-eastern Weddell Ocean: The Ekström Ice is an approximately 8,700 square kilometer large, 100 – 850 m thick area of shelf ice in the East Antarctic.

What’s being researched?

The goal of the research work is to discover changes to global environment and the ecosystem that are in part natural and in part the result of human activity. It is therefore an important task of the Alfred Wegener Institute to inform the German federal government regarding its current research results in order to advise it effectively in terms of its environmental policy.

How are ZARGES cases transported to the station?

In two direct ways. First, the station is usually supplied once per summer (usually in December in the southern hemisphere, when it is winter in Europe) by the research ship “Polarstern”. The ship carries containers loaded with supplies and technical equipment, which are unloaded onto the edge of the shelf ice in Atka Bay and then driven to the station using the snowcats. Besides this, supply planes also land at the station eight to ten times during the short Antarctic summer. These also transport materials, but they are mainly used for shuttling scientists and technicians.

The flight path of the cases usually corresponds with Germany (Frankfurt) – Cape Town – the Russian station Nowolasarewskaja – Neumayer Station.From Cape Town to the Russian station Novo, the cases are transported with an Iljuschin aircraft. From Novo to Neumayer, they are often transported with smaller Basler aircraft (formerly DC-3).

What is transported in the cases?

Mainly technical equipment and materials that are very sensitive and require special protection and can’t simply be stuffed into a duffle bag. Plus, most expedition participants also have a ZARGES case along with them, which they use to take their personal and private effects that they can’t do without during such a trying period.

ZARGES are happy to be a part of this important research, and wish the entire Neumayer team and the Alfred Wegener Institute continued success!

THE ALFRED WEGENER INSTITUTE

For more about the Alfred Wegener Institute and Neumayer Station III, visit awi.de/.

Research team & equipment on its way to the Antarctic
Research team & equipment on its way to the Antarctic
Arrival in the Antarctic - time to unload
Arrival in the Antarctic – time to unload
No doubt about how thick the ice is: only the top deck of the supply ship is visible
No doubt about how thick the ice is: only the top deck of the supply ship is visible
Motorized sleds on the eternal ice
Motorized sleds on the eternal ice
The equipment from the ZARGES cases is used for the first time
The equipment from the ZARGES cases is used for the first time
Graduate student Johannes Lohse evaluating the tilt meter, GPS, and radar measurements
All Photos: Thomas Steuer, Alfred Wegener Institut