Transcript for The Voyage of the Lee, segment 09 of 21


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McMurdo Station, a spartan inhospitable looking scientific post, the major scientific staging area in the world. Thousands of miles distant from any other major facility, it is located in the most harsh environment on earth in a place which has been aptly described as the Great White South. David Howell of the U. S. G. S.

Behind me is McMurdo, part of which you can see. McMurdo Station is the main staging area for research in the Antarctic. There are approximately four hundred people here during the main season. The season operates from late August - early September through February eighteenth. Today is February one. We're very much in the phase-down portion of the season. The wintering-over population in McMurdo is approximately ninety people. Their main function is not that of science, though there is a minor amount of science that takes place. It's primarily people to just insure that the - there's no damage done to the buildings or to any of the water reticulation or electrical power systems as a consequence of the very great cold. Today is February one, austral summer, and it's approximately ten degrees Fahrenheit.

Much time is spent in the warmth of the barracks, but there are occasional forays outside to nearby landmarks, few as there are. The scientists are especially interested in a visit to the wooden hut occupied by the British Antarctic Expedition headed by naval officer Robert Falcon Scott in the first decade of this century. Scott and four companions died on this trip during their return journey from the South Pole. Preserved in this natural refrigerator, the hut and its contents look much the same as they did more than eighty years ago. In his diary Scott referred to this crude building, insulated with quilted seaweed and compressed forage bales, as the most comfortable dwelling place imaginable. We have made unto ourselves a truly seductive home within the walls of which peace, quiet, and comfort rain supreme. Many of the provisions Scott brought on the trip still line the walls, their contents still sealed. Scott's hut stands in stark contrast to the modern housing scientists in McMurdo experience today.