Science in an extreme environment – Horizon: Ice Station Antarctica – BBC Two

Science in an extreme environment – Horizon: Ice Station Antarctica – BBC Two


Antarctica is about as remote a place as
you can find on earth it contains 70% of the world’s fresh
water trapped in an ice sheet that’s up to five kilometers thick and because of
this Antarctica is a huge influence on global weather patterns built in 2012
the Halle research station consists of eight huge modules and just like a moon
base they have everything needed to maintain
life in a hostile environment we’re starting in the quiet room which doubles
up as a library move out into the first part of the accommodation block now
we’re moving through into the main dining room from land area this is the
real sort of hub of the station we’re just coming past all the pictures of
past winters and of course there’s me and the rest of the guys in 1981 now big
deep breath working outside through this heavy airlock type dog now we’re going to go upstairs to the
best view in Cali a panoramic view of the brunt ice shelf back in the early
80s when I was last here Halle was at the center of a global environmental
news story all about a frightening man-made hull high in the stratosphere
sprays are destroying a vital part of the Earth’s atmosphere there’s a
two-mile thick layer of the gas called ozone just here about 10 miles above the
earth it shields all life on the Earth’s surface from the sun’s harmful radiation
in fact what they found was a hole in the ozone layer the size of Antarctica
and this is the machine that discovered the ozone hole this is the Dobson
spectrophotometer measurements are still being taken on a daily basis and what
they show is that it will take at least to the end of the century for levels to
return to near normal so it seems as if the rot has stopped while this place may
be out of sight for most of us what happens here in Antarctica affects us
all each winter at Halle there’s a dazzling display of light the Aurora
Australis but when I see the Aurora I also think of huge electrical currents
which are coming down from space crashing through the atmosphere
and that whole process really is a start of a large geomagnetic storm and the
manifestation of that is the Aurora that you see in the polar regions our
research has shown that those radio waves can accelerate charged particles
up to very very high energies and damage spacecraft we call them killer electron arguably back here on earth Halley’s
most important work is to look out for signs of climate change and it’s this
snow within Halley’s clean air sector that we’ve come to take a closer look at
we’re wearing these fetching overalls to prevent us contaminating the snow
samples because the air here is so pure chemicals trapped in the snow reveal
historic climate change millennium old ice cores only contain natural
pollutants from forest fires and volcanic eruptions the snow samples
contain everything man-made in the modern world so comparing the two can
help determine the impact those pollutant levels may have on the climate
long-term measurements have found that temperatures across the Antarctic
Peninsula have risen by over three degrees Celsius over the last 60 years
that’s more than ten times the global average over the next century greenhouse
gases will drive further warming across Antarctica and its surrounding seas the
work being done at Alley is vital we need to understand those processes to be
able to predict the impact of that future warming you

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