Field Notes: The Polar Field Services Newsletter

Meanwhile, On The Other Side of The World……

We interrupt our view of the Arctic to bring you this news from the British Antarctic Survey

One of the Halley VI modules with aurora in the background. Contractors are currently assembling the new Halley VI station in Antarctica. Photo: Richard Burt

Founded in 1956, Antarctica’s Halley Research Station achieved notoriety in 1985 when scientists there first discovered that the ozone layer, which provides critical protection from ultraviolet radiation, had been decreasing from 1975-1985. (Two years later, NOAA’s Susan Solomon and a team of scientists working at McMurdo Station in Antarctica were the first to assert that chemicals from degrading chlorofluorocarbons were the cause of the damage.)  Today, the British-operated Halley remains an important scientific research station for atmospheric sciences, geology, and glaciology.

But to logisticians like us, among the most interesting ongoing projects at Halley is the construction of Halley VI, a new station that will consist of eight modules connected together to form a long, train-like structure and will all be mobile (more on that later). Like those in Antarctica, our field stations in the Arctic experience extremely harsh weather, and the ability to easily lift and move structures is much appreciated. As snow gathers around the buildings’ legs, we spend a considerable amount of time lifting the structures and keeping the snow from overtaking them. Consequently, we’re very interested in the building of Halley VI.

This double height module will house the living room, dining room, kitchen, and gym. All photos: Martin Bell, Halley VI Deputy project manager, Logistics

Seven of the modules will contain sleeping, support, energy-generation, and science facilities. The eighth module will host a living area, dining room, gym, and kitchen and will be double height. Providing year-round living and research quarters to up to 70 people in the summer and about 16 in the winter, the new buildings are straight out of a science fiction movie.

The station's aerodynamic modules are long and thin to minimize snow accumulation. Every module is also relocatable as the legs are mounted on large skis and can be towed by bulldozers over many kilometers.

The modules have arrived in Antarctica where they are being assembled and will later be moved to the site.

Halley VI aims to minimize the station’s environmental footprint by incorporating the following design measures:

• Bio-reactors to treat sewage

• Installation of vacuum toilets and water-saving taps and showers

• Two-stage incinerators for clean burning of certain types of waste

• Solar-thermal and photovoltaic cell systems to supplement energy supply during the austral summer, when power usage is at its peak

• Reduced annual maintenance, made feasible in part with computer-controlled hydraulic rams to jack up the buildings without significant labor.

• Relocation of the melt tank to the surface so it can be filled mechanically by bulldozer.

— Rachel Walker