Halley Research Station, run by the British Antarctic Survey, is located on the Brunt Ice Shelf floating on the Weddell Sea in Antarctica is a British research facility dedicated to the study of the Earth's atmosphere. Measurements from Halley led to the discovery of the ozone hole in 1985.
A design competition was launched by the Royal Institute of British Architects and the British Antarctic Survey in June 2004 to provide a new design for Halley VI. The competition was entered by a number of architectural and engineering firms. In July 2005 the winning design was chosen, by Faber Maunsell and Hugh Broughton Architects. It is a structure which is, like Halley V, jacked up on legs to keep it above the accumulation of snow. But unlike Halley V, there are skis on the bottom of these legs which allows the building to be relocated periodically.
Halley VI is being built in Cape Town, South Africa by a South African consortium. The first sections were shipped to Antarctica in December 2007 and completion is expected during summer 2008/2009.
Winds are predominantly from the east; strong winds usually pick up the dusty surface snow reducing visibility to a few metres.
One of the reasons for the location of Halley is that it is under the auroral oval, resulting in frequent displays of the Aurora Australis overhead. These are easiest to see during the 105 days when the sun does not rise above the horizon.
It is often not clear from articles about Antarctic bases that very few of the winterers are scientists. Most are the technical specialists required to keep the station and the scientific experiments running. The wintering team at Halley includes a chef, a doctor, mechanics, an electrician, several electronics engineers and a heating and ventilation engineer.
One of the winterers each year is designated as the Base Commander and sworn in as a magistrate, this job is carried out in addition to their normal duties for a small additional salary.
1996 saw the first female winterers at Halley. There have been at least two women wintering every year since then.
After this life continues to be hectic as there is a lot of work to be carried out during the short summer period. This includes both scientific activities and the major maintenance tasks such as raising the platforms. During this time the ship leaves to carry out other tasks.
Around the end of February the ship makes its final visit to Halley. Summer staff, departing winterers and outgoing cargo are loaded on board and the remaining winterers watch their last physical link with the outside world sail off into the distance.
The next event in the base calendar is sundown, the last day when the sun rises over the horizon. This is usually marked by a barbecue and party. The oldest winterer lowers the tattered remains of the Union Flag.
Midwinter has been celebrated in Antarctica since the days of the early explorers and at Halley there is a week of events and parties culminating in the huge midwinter meal. The BBC World Service transmits a special programme with messages from home and a piece of music chosen by each base. It is traditional for the winterers to streak around the building, although they are allowed to wear hats, gloves and boots.
Sunup marks the return of the sun with another barbecue (weather permitting), a new flag is raised by the youngest winterer.
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