Some Antarctic scientists train in British mud

Mon Oct 6, 2008 3:24am EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent

YELD FARM (Reuters) - There hasn't been a glacier in England since the Ice Age so Antarctic scientists flock to a muddy field here to learn how to survive on the world's coldest continent.

Camped in tents and sometimes sharing a field with horses or geese from Yeld Farm, they learn skills such as lighting a frozen paraffin stove or escaping from a crevasse -- taught dangling from ropes on nearby crags in the Peak District.

Since the 1970s, the British Antarctic Survey has trained hundreds of staff here -- cooks, pilots, mechanics and plumbers as well as glaciologists.

Its three-day course in Derbyshire in the Midlands, where the average daytime temperature is about 15 Celsius (59 Fahrenheit), is the closest thing in England to life at the frozen South Pole.

"We try to prepare people for life in Antarctica and some of the dangers," said Rod Arnold, an organizer at the British Antarctic Survey. These might include rescuing an unconscious colleague from a crevasse or tackling carbon monoxide poisoning from a stove.

Exercises include wearing snow goggles covered with white tape and then stumbling blind through heather attached to a rope to try to find a person pretending to be "lost in a snowstorm."

About 40 people took a recent safety course, among them scientists from the United States, Germany, France and Spain.

Antarctica is the world's most inhospitable continent, where Russia's Vostok station recorded a temperature of minus 89 C (minus 128 F), the coldest documented on earth.   Continued...

<p>Climbing experts at the British Antarctic Survey prepare to train scientists and other students at Baslow Edge in this September 17, 2008 file photo. REUTERS/Alister Doyle/Files</p>