Global environmental challenges
Penguins’ chatter outside my tent woke me to Christmas Day in Antarctica, but instead of Santa’s sleigh there was just the usual run to ensure our human waste doesn’t permanently become part of this frozen wilderness.
With 24 hours of daylight it was, needless to say, very different from the traditional Christmas most of the ten members of the Mawson’s Huts Foundation living in East Antarctica are familiar with.
It was probably not the ‘White Christmas’. I would have imagined as a child growing up in Ireland and very different to the hot Australian festive season I have become used to, marked by barbecues and often bushfires.
However, it was a fairly typical day for Antarctica, and for this icy plateau.
Here we are about 3,000 kilometres from the nearest part of the Australian mainland, working with a team who are trying to preserve the relics of the legendary 1911-1914 expedition of Antarctic pioneer Sir Douglas Mawson.
The research vessel Professor Khromov is just a few kms off the easternmost point of Siberia, and U.S. technologist Kevin Taylor is struggling to reel in an orange buoy that had been deep beneath the Bering Strait for nearly a year.
The first time he tries, the ship veers too far away from the prize and must make a slow, wide turn for another pass. The second time, Taylor’s hook is not quite ready and the float bobs again into the Khromov’s wake. This takes practice, even in calm waters.