I had the opportunity to email Princess Elizabeth Station in the Antarctic for an interview. I emailed them and Lisa Bendetti put me in contact with Johnny Gaelens. Princess Elizabeth Station is a station which is staffed with scientists from Belgium. Also, Princess Elizabeth Station is the first zero emission station, which means that they do not use fossil fuels. These are the questions that I gave him and the answers that he gave me.
Q1. What job do you do in the Antarctic?
A1. I'm responsible for all the systems in the station. These tasks are divided in a few groups, one is electricity. We produce our electricity with solar panels and wind turbines and if there is too much energy, we store it in batteries. Another technical system of the station is the heating/cooling/ventilation. Princess Elisabeth station is a passive building, so we do not need heating during the season to get the temperature inside to 20C, but we do need to ventilate to get the CO2 which is made by the workers in the station to get out and sometimes if there are many people we need to cool it. This is not difficult because outside it's always below -5C. To make water we melt snow. This happens in a snow-melter, a big device where we put snow and hot water (water heated with the sun) in it, so the snow melts and creates new water.
Q2. What ways do you think climate change is affecting your place in the Antarctic?
A2. We see that the area is changing, when going to the sea you can see that the edges of Antarctica are changing fast. Here at the station 200km from the sea, I do not see big changes but I'm only here for the 4th time.
Q3. What ways do you think that the average human can help with climate change?
A3. Consider non renewable sources (example oil) as very valuable, they can not be renewed, so if you consume fuel, think that it took million years to be made, and so if it's gone, it's gone and the next generations can not use it anymore.
Q4. What does your job entail?
A4. In this job, I'm away for 4 months, so my family misses me for long periods of time.
Q5. What is a normal day with your job?
A5. I start the day at 7:00am with making weather observations. This information is sent to the meteorological station in Antarctica to make weather predictions. Then I have a look at the systems, if it is sunny, then we can make hot water for the snow melter and if it will be windy then I can expect a lot of energy to come to the station and we can perform tasks that require a lot of energy (as washing, heating water boilers ect). After breakfast, I'm performing maintenance to the systems or I help scientists with the installation, calibration or reparation of there instruments. At noon, I launch a weather balloon. In the afternoon I continue with maintenance tasks. I stop between 7:00 and 8:00pm and then we have our dinner. The next day is another day.
This was an amazing opportunity, to interview someone from Antarctica! Thanks so much Johnny for answering these questions.
Story by William Euler