Working at Scott Base
We have maintained a constant presence at Scott Base since 20 January 1957, with a fluctuating population depending on the time of year.
The base is a hub of activity during the summer operational phase.
Staff undertake comprehensive training, both in Christchurch and at Scott Base, to ensure they can live and work safely in Antarctica. This training commences in September/October and requires all team members to be in Christchurch for the duration of the training.
The team will participate in Antarctica New Zealand’s Awareness Programme to learn our organisational values, team process models and Health, Safety and Environmental tools. Staff then complete a week of Fire Training. This provides all the skills and training required to fulfil firefighting duties. Fire is a major risk in Antarctica and all of our staff are trained to keep and people and property safe. Fire crews are formed during this training to participate in a fire roster on base.
Our role in Antarctica is to ensure that Antarctica’s environment continues to be protected, that scientists are support to find the answers to complex scientific questions, and that science outcomes are communicated back to policy makers and the public.
Over the season we support many different types of science events – some will work from Scott Base while others head out to field camps to undertake their research. Events could also be working from Scott Base and taking day trips to their research sites.
One of the great things about working at Scott Base is spending time with scientists and gaining an understanding of what questions they are trying to answer and how this relates to New Zealand & the rest of the world now and for future generations.
Our team play a critical role in supporting the Science community while they are in Antarctica and have the ability to help deliver scientific outcomes everyday.
Regular flights between Christchurch and McMurdo Sound occur from early October until early March. Over winter there are limited flights scheduled. In order to be self sufficient and sustainable, the base is resupplied annually by ship. Resupply occurs in February and the team on base unpack containers and get things in order before moving into Winter Operations.
Over winter we have a smaller team who run the base and we appoint a Winter Leader and Winter Engineering Supervisor to lead the team, which generally consists of 12 people.
The final scheduled flight before winter occurs in early March. Traditionally this has been the last flight to Antarctica till August. More recently there have been some additional flights scheduled which has meant we were able to send some additional staff and supplies to assist with operational work.
Flights are limited over this winter period due to the lack of sunlight. The days gradually get longer and darker through April until the sun stops rising for the Winter period. You can find out more about the sun light over winter here.
Communication with the team over the winter is via telephone and email – our bandwidth is similar to dial up speed and we cannot utilise Skype or similar web based communication progammes.