Tales from the field: maintaining seismic stations at the South Pole

Dec. 16, 2012. Aubreya Adams in the ice tunnels below Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, Antarctica. (The tunnels are COLD!
Like caves in the rest of the world, they maintain the average ambient
temperature. Here, that’s between -50 and -60.

My eyelashes were frozen (although that happens all the time here) and my balaclava kept freezing to my face. Also, the zipper to my parka froze shut from the moisture in my breath!) (Credit: Aubreya Adams)

As Christmas approaches enterprising citizens at the South Pole Station erect a trash tree. (Credit: Aubreya Adams)

There’s been an addition to the trash tree. I think the sombrero was a nice touch. (Credit: Aubreya Adams)

New Year’s Day: Pole Moving Ceremony. Every year, the geographical pole is moved to account for the movement of the ice. It is also given a new “topper” or cap made by the folks who wintered over the previous year. It’s a pretty big deal, so it was neat to participate in the ceremony. (Credit: Aubreya Adams)

This year, the cap includes pins representing the planets and the moon in their relative positions today 1/1/2013. Fun fact: this year’s cap is the first ever to have a proper orientation as well as location. (Credit: Aubreya Adams)

Signatures from the over-winterers on the bottom. Also, there is a pin representing Pluto, for those who don’t quite want to give it up as a planet. (Credit: Aubreya Adams)

A group of people built a tiki hut/ice bar in their
spare time, made the decorations, and bought the food and alcohol on
their own so the rest of us could have an awesome and unique New Year’s
party. (Credit: Aubreya Adams)

Hanging out at the ice bar. (Credit: Aubreya Adams)

By Jan. 6, I was already on my way home. This is McMurdo Station — the departure point for planes flying north — as seen from the hut built by polar explorer Robert Scott in 1902 during the Discovery Expedition. (Credit: Aubreya Adams)