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August 26, 2003 at 4:40 am #216jcbrewerMember
‘Nother day. ‘Nother question. What would life be without these ever changing obsessions of mine.
I started off with the impression that there are just a bunch of scientists down there sort of just doing science all the time. Wandering around on the ice and trying to communicate with penguins and seals or climbing up the slopes of Erebus to measure the sulfur content of gasses. That doesn’t seem to be the case though.
We’ve got carpenters, and electricians, and mechanics, and waste water treatment specialists, and firemen, etc. Everything a normal town would have. Does McMurdo have positions that normal towns don’t have, like snow clearer, or ice removal specialist?
So what is the breakdown of workload? Is it significantly different in summer than winter and do the “workers” mix with the “scientists”? Clearly the infrastructure people would have to remain to keep the machines on line. But the scientists that stay over winter… what are they working on? Ozone hole measurements? Glaciology? Climate change? Insanity? Do they go very far from the base, up onto the ice cap or anything like that?August 26, 2003 at 1:25 pm #1814thepooles98Keymaster
McMurdo, is the main logistics hub for this end of Antarctica. Virtually anyone doing research in the Ross Sea area to the South Pole to the Vostok Russian Station and back to the ocean comes to Mcmurdo first. Hence the size of the town. Many scientists do their work here, but many more head out to field camps and only do their initial safety training etc at McMurdo.
Summer at Mcmurdo is a hectic wave of thousands of people passing through. 700 to a 1000 or so can be workers at the base. The number peaks at the end of January as summer and winter crew overlap in preparation for the annual ship offload.
Every room is full for most of the summer so it’s rather difficult to shut down buildings for repairs. That work is done mostly in the winter. In the summer everything is patched and in the winter they go back, shut down the building and do a proper repair.
As far as special jobs. We do have snow removal people. Fleet Ops and big loaders. But most towns would have that. We have a Search and Rescue team. Satelite and radio communications people as well as IT and internet.
mikeAugust 26, 2003 at 8:53 pm #1815jcbrewerMember
So, it would seem, the scientists and workers aren’t really in a position to interact much. I recall when I was on ballistic missile submarines in the navy – not that much different than McMurdo in some ways – there was a healthy, and sometimes unhealthy, rivalry between the officers and enlisted personnel. I would imagine then, from what you describe, there would exist a similar sort of relationship between the scientists and maintenance personnel.August 28, 2003 at 12:49 am #1816thepooles98Keymaster
For the most part there isn’t much of a division here. For the little you can see, I think it’s driven by the shortness of the science season and the amount of work that needs to be done to keep the science projects on time. We are here to support them and try as we might there are odd times when we can’t live up to expectations, but I guess the same would be true in any work environment.
On the other hand a lot of work goes into making sure the community is aware of what we are supporting. Twice a week the science groups put on programs about their projects. Sunday night is geared to the non science minded. The mid-week program is more technical. Sometimes community members are invited to help on their time off. Often the people catching fish for study will ask for help and the dive program is always looking for dive tenders to sit in the shacks and help the divers with whatever they need.
The recreation department invites everyone to all the functions. That includes the air crews fromt he National Guard and Airforce. I think there is a little more division between the military people and civilians, though that is getting less year after year. Maybe it’s the way the military works. They maintain their own bar in the military dorm and the rest of the community is not allowed to visit without being escorted. A holdover from the officer club days? It riles some that they are invited to our functions but we are not invited to theirs, but in the end it isn’t much of a problem.
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