UK & World News

  • 8 August 2014, 12:32

Antarctic Researchers Lose Heating At -55.4C

British researchers living on an ice shelf in Antarctica have said they are in "good spirits" after experiencing a 19-hour power outage during record freezing temperatures.

The 13 staff members from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) have been dealing with a "serious operational incident" at the Halley Research Station since the end of last month.

Temperatures have been as low as -55.4C (-67.7F) on the Brunt Ice Shelf causing extremely difficult living conditions for the Cambridge-based team.

A statement on the BAS website said "power and some heating are back online" and the station has been able to maintain good satellite communications.

The cause of the power loss is not known.

Electrical and renewable energy engineer Anthony Lister is one of the people in the station who has been keeping the public up-to-date with the situation on Twitter and on his blog.

He wrote: "Whilst all the fun was happening at #halley6 (not that it's over) we had the lowest ever recorded temps down here at -55.4. Which was nice."

Mr Lister says the team is drinking lots of tea and has a big kettle. He reiterated that they are all healthy and making sure the station is in good order.

BAS said: "Contingency plans for alternative accommodation on site are in place and ancillary buildings are being made ready in case of a further power-down.

"Our urgent priority is to ensure the continued safety and wellbeing of the wintering team."

The survey added that all science, apart from meteorological observations has been stopped.

The Halley Research Station is the centre for atmospheric science programmes and the 13 research and support staff are "wintering" there at present.

The BAS website says medical facilities at Halley include a surgery with emergency facilities and there is also a full-time doctor at the station.

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