This town is largely a scientific research outpost. But much of population is here to maintain the base and community. There are pipefitters, electricians, carpenters, chefs, dishwashers, mechanics, power plant operators, as well as mountaineers, helicopter pilots and technicians, science laboratory staff and so on. The scientists come through for their specific projects, often passing through on their way to a remote field camp such as the dry valleys, or on their way to the US’s South Pole station.
Research is funded primarily by the National Science Foundation and to a lesser extent NASA, and encompasses many disciplines, including glaciology, microbiology, organismal biology, astronomy, climate change science (ice core gas records or paleooceanography). My group is down here to conduct (meta)proteomic analyses of the phytoplankton living in the sea ice and in the Ross Sea. This is part of a collaborative project with the Venter Institute, who are doing the DNA (cDNA actually) sequencing that is complementary and crucial for the protein work we are doing. And our focus is really to contribute to a foundation of genomic and proteomic information so that we can begin to study fundamental questions about how these phytoplankton communities will respond to climate change and what controls their current impact on the carbon cycle.
Here’s some recent Antarctica related news:
And along less newsy lines: McMurdo station has a thriving amateur arts and music scene. Icestock (and here is one of the longest running events here. And I showed up on the night of an Alternative Art show. All this from people who work 6 days a week. I’m a fan of small towns and have been asking how come MacTown (as they call it) is so artsy (and how we can get our town of Woods Hole to be even more so).
And if you’ve made it this far, an Antarctic rock video about penguins: