McMurdo Station from Observation Hill
|Location in Antarctica||Ross Island, Ross Dependency; claimed by New Zealand.|
|Administered by||United States Antarctic Program of the National Science Foundation|
|Established||16 February 1956|
|Named for||Archibald McMurdo|
|Elevation||10 m (30 ft)|
|Time zone||UTC+12 (NZST)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+13 (NZDT)|
|Facilities||More than 85 buildings with facilities that include: |
The McMurdo Station is a United States Antarctic research station on the south tip of Ross Island, which is in the New Zealand–claimed Ross Dependency on the shore of McMurdo Sound in Antarctica. It is operated by the United States through the United States Antarctic Program, a branch of the National Science Foundation. The station is the largest community in Antarctica, capable of supporting up to 1,258 residents,and serves as one of three year-round United States Antarctic science facilities. All personnel and cargo going to or coming from Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station first pass through McMurdo. By road, McMurdo is 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) from New Zealand's smaller Scott Base.
The station takes its name from its geographic location on McMurdo Sound, named after Lieutenant Archibald McMurdo of HMS Terror. Under the command of British explorer James Clark Ross, the Terror first charted the area in 1841. The British explorer Robert Falcon Scott established a base camp close to this spot in 1902 and built a cabin there that was named Discovery Hut. It still stands as a historic monument near the water's edge on Hut Point at McMurdo Station. The volcanic rock of the site is the southernmost bare ground accessible by ship in the world. The United States officially opened its first station at McMurdo on February 16, 1956 as part of Operation Deep Freeze. The base, built by the U.S. Navy Seabees, was initially designated Naval Air Facility McMurdo. On November 28, 1957, Admiral George J. Dufek visited McMurdo with a U.S. congressional delegation for a change-of-command ceremony.
McMurdo Station became the center of scientific and logistical operation during the International Geophysical Year,an international scientific effort that lasted from July 1, 1957, to December 31, 1958. The Antarctic Treaty, subsequently signed by over forty-five governments, regulates intergovernmental relations with respect to Antarctica and governs the conduct of daily life at McMurdo for United States Antarctic Program (USAP) participants. The Antarctic Treaty and related agreements, collectively called the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS), opened for signature on December 1, 1959, and officially entered into force on June 23, 1961.
The first scientific diving protocols were established before 1960 and the first diving operations were documented in November 1961.
On March 3, 1962, the U.S. Navy activated the PM-3A nuclear power plant at the station. The unit was prefabricated in modules to facilitate transport and assembly. Engineers designed the components to weigh no more than 30,000 pounds (14,000 kg) each and to measure no more than 8 feet 8 inches (2.64 m) by 8 feet 8 inches (2.64 m) by 30 feet (9.1 m). A single core no larger than an oil drum served as the heart of the nuclear reactor. These size and weight restrictions aimed to allow delivery of the reactor in an LC-130 Hercules aircraft. However, the components were actually delivered by ship. The reactor generated 1.8 MW of electrical power and reportedly replaced the need for 1,500 US gallons (5,700 l) of oil daily. Engineers applied the reactor's power, for instance, in producing steam for the salt-water distillation plant. As a result of continuing safety issues (hairline cracks in the reactor and water leaks), the U.S. Army Nuclear Power Program decommissioned the plant in 1972. Conventional diesel generators replaced the nuclear power station, with a number of 500 kilowatts (670 hp) diesel generators in a central powerhouse providing electric power. A conventionally-fueled water-desalination plant provided fresh water.
As of 2007 [update] , McMurdo Station was Antarctica's largest community and a functional, modern-day science station, including a harbor, three airfields (two seasonal), a heliport and more than 100 buildings, including the Albert P. Crary Science and Engineering Center. The station is also home to the continent's two ATMs, both provided by Wells Fargo Bank. The work done at McMurdo Station primarily focuses on science, but most of the residents (approximately 1,000 in the summer and around 250 in the winter) are not scientists, but station personnel who provide support for operations, logistics, information technology, construction, and maintenance.
Scientists and other personnel at McMurdo are participants in the USAP, which co-ordinates research and operational support in the region. Werner Herzog's 2007 documentary Encounters at the End of the World reports on the life and culture of McMurdo Station from the point-of-view of residents. Anthony Powell's 2013 documentary Antarctica: A Year on Ice provides time-lapse photography of Antarctica intertwined with personal accounts from residents of McMurdo Station and of the adjacent Scott Base over the course of a year.
An annual sealift by cargo ships as part of Operation Deep Freeze delivers 8 million U.S. gallons (6.6 million imperial gallons/42 million liters) of fuel and 11 million pounds (5 million kg) of supplies and equipment for McMurdo residents.The ships, operated by the U.S. Military Sealift Command, are manned by civilian mariners. Cargo may range from mail, construction materials, trucks, tractors, dry and frozen food, to scientific instruments. U.S. Coast Guard icebreakers break a ship channel through ice-clogged McMurdo Sound in order for supply ships to reach Winter Quarters Bay at McMurdo. Additional supplies and personnel are flown in to nearby Williams Field from Christchurch in New Zealand.
Between 1962 and 1963, 28 Arcas sounding rockets were launched from McMurdo Station.
McMurdo Station stands about two miles (3 km) from Scott Base, the New Zealand science station, and all of Ross Island lies within a sector claimed by New Zealand. Criticism has been leveled at the base regarding its construction projects, particularly the McMurdo-(Amundsen-Scott) South Pole highway.
McMurdo Station has attempted to improve environmental management and waste removal in order to adhere to the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty, signed on October 4, 1991, which entered into force on January 14, 1998. This agreement prevents development and provides for the protection of the Antarctic environment through five specific annexes on marine pollution, fauna and flora, environmental impact assessments, waste management, and protected areas. It prohibits all activities relating to mineral resources except scientific. A new waste-treatment facility was built at McMurdo in 2003. Three Enercon E-33 (330 kW each) wind turbines were deployed in 2009 to power McMurdo and New Zealand's Scott Base, reducing diesel consumption by 11% or 463,000 litres per year. McMurdo Station (nicknamed "Mac-Town" by its residents) continues to operate as the hub for American activities on the Antarctic continent.
McMurdo Station briefly gained global notice when an anti-war protest took place on February 15, 2003. During the rally, about 50 scientists and station personnel gathered to protest the coming invasion of Iraq by the United States. McMurdo Station was the only Antarctic location to hold such a rally.
Scientific diving operations continue with 10,859 dives having been conducted under the ice from 1989 to 2006. A hyperbaric chamber is available for support of polar diving operations.
With all months having an average temperature below freezing, McMurdo features a polar ice cap climate (Köppen EF). However, in the warmest months (December and January) the monthly average high temperature may occasionally rise above freezing. The place is protected from cold waves from the interior of Antarctica by the Transantarctic Mountains, so temperatures below −40° are rare, compared to more exposed places like Neumayer Station, which usually gets those temperatures a few times every year, often as early as May, and sometimes even as early as April, and very rarely above 0 °C. The highest temperature ever recorded at McMurdo was 10.8°C on December 21, 1987. There is enough snow melt in summer that a limited amount of vegetation can grow, specifically a few species of moss and lichen.
|Climate data for McMurdo Station (extremes 1956–present)|
|Record high °C (°F)||10.2|
|Average high °C (°F)||−0.6|
|Daily mean °C (°F)||−2.8|
|Average low °C (°F)||−4.6|
|Record low °C (°F)||−22.1|
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||16|
|Average snowfall cm (inches)||6.6|
|Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm)||2.6||4.7||3.2||4.5||5.5||5.7||4.7||4.1||3.0||3.2||2.4||2.5||46.1|
|Average snowy days||12.8||17.6||17.8||16.4||16.2||15.6||15.3||14.5||13.3||14.5||13.5||13.8||181.3|
|Average relative humidity (%)||66.7||65.2||66.6||66.6||64.2||62.4||60.2||63.4||55.8||61.4||64.7||67.0||63.7|
|Source 1: Deutscher Wetterdienst (average temperatures)|
|Source 2: NOAA (precipitation, snowy days, and humidity data 1961–1986), Meteo Climat (record highs and lows)|
For a time, McMurdo had Antarctica's only television station, AFAN-TV, running vintage programs provided by the military. The station's equipment was susceptible to "electronic burping" from the diesel generators that provide electricity in the outpost. The station was profiled in a 1974 article in TV Guide magazine. Now, McMurdo receives three channels of the US Military's American Forces Network,[ citation needed ] the Australia Network, and New Zealand news broadcasts. Television broadcasts are received by satellite at Black Island, and transmitted 25 miles (40 km) by digital microwave to McMurdo. Also, for a time McMurdo also played host to one of the only two shortwave broadcast stations in Antarctica. The station—AFAN McMurdo—transmitted with a power of 1 kilowatt on the shortwave frequency of 6,012 kHz and became a target for shortwave radio listening hobbyists around the world because of its rarity. The station continued broadcasting on shortwave into the 1980s when it dropped shortwave while continuing FM transmission.
McMurdo Station receives both Internet and voice communications by satellite communications via the Optus D1 satellite and relayed to Sydney, Australia.A satellite dish at Black Island provides 20 Mbit/s Internet connectivity and voice communications. Voice communications are tied into the United States Antarctic Program headquarters in Centennial, Colorado, providing inbound and outbound calls to McMurdo from the US. Voice communications within station are conducted via VHF radio.
McMurdo has the world's most southerly harbor. A multitude of on- and off-road vehicles transport people and cargo around the station area, including Ivan the Terra Bus. There is a road from McMurdo to the New Zealand Scott Base and South Pole, the South Pole Traverse.
McMurdo is serviced seasonally by three airports:
The Richard E. Byrd Historic Monument was erected at McMurdo in 1965. It comprises a bronze bust on black marble, 150 cm × 60 cm (5 ft × 2 ft) square, on a wooden platform, bearing inscriptions describing the polar exploration achievements of Richard E. Byrd. It has been designated a Historic Site or Monument (HSM 54), following a proposal by the United States to the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting.
The bronze Nuclear Power Plant Plaque is about 45 cm × 60 cm (18 in × 24 in) in size, and is secured to a large vertical rock halfway up the west side of Observation Hill, at the former site of the PM-3A nuclear power reactor at McMurdo Station. The inscription details the achievements of Antarctica's first nuclear power plant. It has been designated a Historic Site or Monument (HSM 85), following a proposal by the United States to the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting.
Facilities at the station include:
Transport in Antarctica has transformed from explorers crossing the isolated remote area of Antarctica by foot to a more open era due to human technologies enabling more convenient and faster transport, predominantly by air and water, as well as land. Transportation technologies on a remote area like Antarctica need to be able to deal with extremely low temperatures and continuous winds to ensure the travelers' safety. Due to the fragility of the Antarctic environment, only a limited amount of transport movements can take place and sustainable transportation technologies have to be used to reduce the ecological footprint. The infrastructure of land, water and air transport needs to be safe and sustainable. Currently thousands of tourists and hundreds of scientists a year depend on the Antarctic transportation system.
The Ross Dependency is a region of Antarctica defined by a sector originating at the South Pole, passing along longitudes 160° east to 150° west, and terminating at latitude 60° south. It is claimed by New Zealand. Since the Antarctic Treaty came into force in 1961, Article IV of which states: "No acts or activities taking place while the present Treaty is in force shall constitute a basis for asserting, supporting or denying a claim to territorial sovereignty in Antarctica or create any rights of sovereignty in Antarctica", most countries do not recognise territorial claims in Antarctica.
Albert Paddock Crary, was a pioneer polar geophysicist and glaciologist. He was the first person to have stepped foot on both the North and South Poles, having made it to the North Pole on May 3, 1952 and then to the South Pole on February 12, 1961, as the leader of a team of eight. The South Pole expedition set out from McMurdo Station on December 10, 1960, using three Snowcats with trailers. Crary was the seventh expedition leader to arrive at the South Pole by surface transportation. He was widely admired for his intellect, wit, skills and as a great administrator for polar research expeditions.
The Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station is a United States scientific research station at the South Pole, the southernmost place on the Earth. It is the southernmost point under the jurisdiction of the United States. The station is located on the high plateau of Antarctica at an elevation of 2,835 metres above sea level and is administered by the Division of Polar Programs within the National Science Foundation under the United States Antarctic Program (USAP). It is named in honor of Norwegian Roald Amundsen and Englishman Robert F. Scott, who led separate teams that raced to become the first to the South Pole in the early 1900s.
Scott Base is a New Zealand Antarctic research facility located at Pram Point on Ross Island near Mount Erebus in New Zealand's Ross Dependency territorial claim. The research facility was named in honour of Captain Robert Falcon Scott, RN, leader of two British expeditions to the Ross Sea area of Antarctica. The base was set up as support to field research and the centre for research into earth sciences, and now conducts research in many fields, operated by Antarctica New Zealand.
McMurdo Sound and its ice-clogged waters extends about 55 kilometres (34 mi) long and wide. The sound connects the Ross Sea to the north with the Ross Ice Shelf cavity to the south via Haskell Strait. The strait is largely covered by the McMurdo Ice Shelf. The Royal Society Range rises from sea level to 4,205 metres (13,796 ft) on the western shoreline. Ross Island, an historic jumping-off point for polar explorers, designates the eastern boundary. The active volcano Mount Erebus at 3,794 metres (12,448 ft) dominates Ross Island. Antarctica's largest scientific base, the United States' McMurdo Station, as well as the New Zealand Scott Base are on the southern shore of the island. Less than 10 percent of McMurdo Sound's shoreline is free of ice. It is the southernmost navigable body of water in the world.
The United States Antarctic Program is an organization of the United States government which has presence in the continent of Antarctica. Founded in 1959, the USAP manages all U.S. scientific research and related logistics in Antarctica as well as aboard ships in the Southern Ocean.
Operation Deep Freeze is codename for a series of United States missions to Antarctica, beginning with "Operation Deep Freeze I" in 1955–56, followed by "Operation Deep Freeze II", "Operation Deep Freeze III", and so on.. Given the continuing and constant US presence in Antarctica since that date, "Operation Deep Freeze" has come to be used as a general term for US operations in that continent, and in particular for the regular missions to resupply US Antarctic bases, coordinated by the United States military.
Cape Hallett is a snow-free area on the northern tip of the Hallett Peninsula on the Ross Sea coast of Victoria Land, East Antarctica. Cape Adare lies 100 km (62 mi) to the north.
Williams Field or Willy Field is a United States Antarctic Program airfield in Antarctica. Williams Field consists of two snow runways located on approximately 8 meters (25 ft) of compacted snow, lying on top of 8–10 ft of ice, floating over 550 meters (1,800 ft) of water. The airport, which is approximately seven miles from Ross Island, serves McMurdo Station and New Zealand's Scott Base. Until the 2009–10 summer season, Williams was the major airfield for on-continent aircraft operations in Antarctica.
The South Pole Traverse, also called the McMurdo–South Pole Highway, is an approximately 995-mile-long (1,601 km) compacted snow road in Antarctica that links the United States's McMurdo Station on the coast to the Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station. It was constructed by leveling snow and filling in crevasses, but is not paved; flags mark its route.
Marble Point is a rocky promontory on the coast of Victoria Land, Antarctica, located at 77° 26' S latitude and 163° 50' E longitude. The United States operates a station at the point. The outpost is used as a helicopter refueling station supporting scientific research in the nearby continental interior such as the McMurdo Dry Valleys. Weather permitting, helicopters are able to fly in and out of the station 24 hours a day during the summer research season.
As Antarctica has never been permanently settled by humans there has historically been little military activity in the Antarctic. Because the Antarctic Treaty, which came into effect on June 23, 1961, bans military activity in Antarctica, military personnel and equipment may only be used for scientific research or any other peaceful purpose on the continent.
Winter Quarters Bay is a small cove of McMurdo Sound, Antarctica, located 2,200 miles (3,500 km) due south of New Zealand at 77°50'S. The harbor is the southernmost port in the Southern Ocean and features a floating ice pier for summer cargo operations. The bay is approximately 250m wide and long, with a maximum depth of 33m. The name Winter Quarters Bay refers to Robert Falcon Scott's National Antarctic Discovery Expedition (1901–04) which wintered at the site for two seasons.
Raytheon Polar Services Company (RPSC) was a division of Raytheon that provided logistics, operations, and staffing for the National Science Foundation's operations in Antarctica and Antarctic waters. Its contract with the United States Antarctic Program expired on March 30, 2012.
This article is about telecommunications in Antarctica.
The South Pole, also known as the Geographic South Pole or Terrestrial South Pole, is one of the two points where Earth's axis of rotation intersects its surface. It is the southernmost point on the surface of Earth and lies on the opposite side of Earth from the North Pole.
Many Antarctic research stations support satellite field camps which are, in general, seasonal camps. The type of field camp can vary – some are permanent structures used during the annual Antarctic summer, whereas others are little more than tents used to support short term activities. Field camps are used for many things, from logistics to dedicated scientific research.
Mullins Valley is a four mile long valley located at 5,400 ft elevation in the McMurdo Dry Valleys. It is one of the few dry valleys in the world to contain rock glaciers. US Antarctic Program (USAP) research has dated the subsurface ice in Mullins Valley at 4 million years old making it among the oldest ice on earth. United States Antarctic Program (USAP) research has also shown the rock glaciers in the valley to be analogous to the Arsia Mons region on Mars. Named for Jerry L. Mullins, Physical Scientist, Director, Polar Programs, Antarctic and Arctic Program for United States Geological Survey (USGS), National Science Foundation Antarctic geophysical research, and U.S Scientific Committee (SCAR) delegate to SCAR SCAGI committee. Appointed by the National Academy of Sciences, Polar Research Board. His was responsible for Antarctic field research in the Transantarctic Mountains, McMurdo Dry Valleys, Shackleton Mountains, Beardmore Mountains, Antarctic Peninsula, Mount Siple, Amundsen-Scott South Pole station and at deep field research locations in West Antarctica. His program conducted research in the disciplines of global positioning systems, geodesy, crustal motion, glacial geophysics, airborne geospatial systems, airborne geophysics, seismology, light radar (lidar), topographic mapping and he managed the USGS South Pole winter-over program from 1989 to 1994. He was appointed by the National Academy of Sciences, Polar Research Board as a US delegate to the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research Geosciences Standing Scientific Group from 1995–July 2012 and was appointed as a member of the Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names in 1994. Mullins Valley appears in the Antarctic research literature, on the maps from the British expedition of Captain Scott and in aerial photographs from the United States expedition Operation Highjump by Admiral Byrd. Mullins Valley, Mullins Lake, Mullins Glacier, and Mullins Geodetic Station, Antarctica are named for United States polar explorer and researcher Jerry L. Mullins.
Lois M. Jones was an American geochemist who led the first all-woman science team to Antarctica in 1969. They were also the first women to reach the South Pole. Jones was well regarded for her contribution to geological research in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, one of the few ice-free areas of Antarctica, and published many papers and abstracts.
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