Photos: No coronavirus, only isolation at Antarctica’s research stations

Antarctica is the only place on earth where there are no Covid-19 cases. Lockdown is the default mode there. The continent has no trees, no local people. Summer is freezing. Winter gets no sun. Thousands of scientists drop in between October and February to conduct research on everything from climate change and geological history to astronomy and penguins. A look at the different international research stations on the continent, including India's own. For India, this year’s expedition has been dropped, though automated studies of the climate and the sea continue, with 50 researchers stationed there.

Updated On Sep 27, 2020 11:06 AM IST 9 Photos
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India’s first permanent settlement in Antarctica was built in 1983. Bharati (pictured here), opened in 2012, and is where scientists study palaeoclimate, climate change and how polar changes influence India’s monsoon. Communication is through dedicated satellite channels providing connectivity for voice, video and data with India’s mainland. (National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research)

India’s first permanent settlement in Antarctica was built in 1983. Bharati (pictured here), opened in 2012, and is where scientists study palaeoclimate, climate change and how polar changes influence India’s monsoon. Communication is through dedicated satellite channels providing connectivity for voice, video and data with India’s mainland. (National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research)

Updated on Sep 27, 2020 11:06 AM IST
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Bharati, which opened in 2012, pioneered the use of shipping containers as part of the core structure, saving assembly time and money. Some 134 of them form an insulated three-level base that includes living areas, a kitchen and gym, offices, labs, workspaces and support areas. (Courtesy Bof Architekten)

Bharati, which opened in 2012, pioneered the use of shipping containers as part of the core structure, saving assembly time and money. Some 134 of them form an insulated three-level base that includes living areas, a kitchen and gym, offices, labs, workspaces and support areas. (Courtesy Bof Architekten)

Updated on Sep 27, 2020 11:06 AM IST
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Halley VI is the most southerly science research station operated by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and is located on the 150-metre thick floating Brunt Ice Shelf, which moves 400 metres per annum towards the sea. (Courtesy Hugh Broughton Architects)

Halley VI is the most southerly science research station operated by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and is located on the 150-metre thick floating Brunt Ice Shelf, which moves 400 metres per annum towards the sea. (Courtesy Hugh Broughton Architects)

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When Brazil’s base burned down in 2012, it knew it had to build bigger and better. The new Comandante Ferraz, which retains the old name and location, opened this year. It’s twice as large, with 17 labs, a heliport, cabin-style rooms and a lab to process biological samples immediately. (Courtesy Estudio 41)

When Brazil’s base burned down in 2012, it knew it had to build bigger and better. The new Comandante Ferraz, which retains the old name and location, opened this year. It’s twice as large, with 17 labs, a heliport, cabin-style rooms and a lab to process biological samples immediately. (Courtesy Estudio 41)

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Belgium’s Princess Elisabeth station has the distinction of being the continent’s only zero-emission base. Built in 2009, it runs on wind and solar energy and has on-site water treatment and recycling. (Polar Foundation)

Belgium’s Princess Elisabeth station has the distinction of being the continent’s only zero-emission base. Built in 2009, it runs on wind and solar energy and has on-site water treatment and recycling. (Polar Foundation)

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Germany’s Neumayer Station III is built on a platform above the snow-covered surface. Engineers adjust the station’s 16 hydraulic supports on a regular basis, allowing it to adapt to changes in snow cover. In the summer, up to 50 people live and work at the station. (Felix Riess / AWI)

Germany’s Neumayer Station III is built on a platform above the snow-covered surface. Engineers adjust the station’s 16 hydraulic supports on a regular basis, allowing it to adapt to changes in snow cover. In the summer, up to 50 people live and work at the station. (Felix Riess / AWI)

Updated on Sep 27, 2020 11:06 AM IST
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Korea built its second Antarctic Station, Jang Bogo Station in 2014, further enabling research and collection of various data regarding climate change, topography and geography surveys, upper atmosphere and space science research. (Courtesy HBA Architects)

Korea built its second Antarctic Station, Jang Bogo Station in 2014, further enabling research and collection of various data regarding climate change, topography and geography surveys, upper atmosphere and space science research. (Courtesy HBA Architects)

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Taishan, China’s fourth station, looks like a bright red flying saucer or a Chinese lantern. It features an aircraft runway, labs and observation areas, oil storage and an emergency shelter. It was raised quickly – 28 workers took 53 days to assemble it. (Gov.cn )

Taishan, China’s fourth station, looks like a bright red flying saucer or a Chinese lantern. It features an aircraft runway, labs and observation areas, oil storage and an emergency shelter. It was raised quickly – 28 workers took 53 days to assemble it. (Gov.cn )

Updated on Sep 27, 2020 11:06 AM IST
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The Americans have Antarctica’s largest base. McMurdo, established in 1955, sits on rock, not ice, and has access to a harbour, landing strips on sea and shelf ice, a helipad, and is made up of over 100 individual structures. They even host a music festival, Icestock, on December 31, featuring the scientists on site. (National Science Foundation)

The Americans have Antarctica’s largest base. McMurdo, established in 1955, sits on rock, not ice, and has access to a harbour, landing strips on sea and shelf ice, a helipad, and is made up of over 100 individual structures. They even host a music festival, Icestock, on December 31, featuring the scientists on site. (National Science Foundation)

Updated on Sep 27, 2020 11:06 AM IST
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