Polar Painting

As many of you know I am heading south for a few months to do some painting; so what’s it all about?

On the Haute Route last year, I was chatting to Brian about a project he was involved in on Antarctica. Brian has been based at Halley Base which is in the process of being rebuilt. In fact this will be the sixth base at the site.

“It doesn’t need painting does it??”

Position of Halley Base

The new build is replacing Halley 5, which in turn has replaced the previous 4.

Halley 5

Halley V contains a mix of building technologies. Three buildings are located on platforms on steel legs, which have been jacked up annually to keep them clear of the accumulated snowfall. An accommodation building and a garage weighing over 50 tons are mounted on skis and towed each year to a new position. Halley I to Halley IV were built directly on the snow and were each abandoned within ten years, having been crushed by the overlying ice.

The remains of Halley 3 emerging at the edge of the ice shelf

Approximately 1.2 metres of snow accumulate each year on the Brunt Ice Shelf and buildings on the surface become covered and eventually crushed by snow, necessitating periodic rebuilding of the station. This part of the ice shelf is also moving westward by approx. 700m per year.

The new design allows the building to be hydraulically lifted each year to overcome the accumulation of snow and ice and also allows it to be relocated inland to compensate for the movement of the ice. The building has to provide full life support services for up to 50 people and withstand the severe Antarctic climate where temperatures can drop to -55°C.

The base of a new module
New module for Halley 6

All the module interiors (living and working areas) will need to be painted (hopefully not white!)

So that’s where I’m off to, and what I’ll be doing. I’ve had jabs for everything you could possibly get there or en-route……… Regular updates will appear here on the blog as the build continues, and dependant on the internet link from the ice-shelf.