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Record snows crush historic Antarctic hut

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  • npat1
    From: http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/0,2106,3880666a7693,00.html Record snows crush historic Antarctic hut 28 November 2006 By JOHN HENZELL An Antarctic hut used
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 30, 2006
      From:
      http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/0,2106,3880666a7693,00.html

      Record snows crush historic Antarctic hut
      28 November 2006
      By JOHN HENZELL

      An Antarctic hut used by Captain Robert Falcon Scott is being crushed
      under record snowdrifts, prompting a marathon digging effort by a New
      Zealand-led team.

      Four conservators with the Antarctic Heritage Trust (AHT) spent a week
      shovelling 85 tonnes of snow from around Cape Evans hut in a bid to
      prevent more damage being caused by snowdrifts one third bigger than
      it has faced in its 95-year history.


      A quirk of global warming is that more snow is predicted to fall in
      Antarctica as temperatures rise, putting more strain on a fragile hut
      located in one of the planet's harshest environments.


      AHT executive director Nigel Watson said the unprecedented conditions
      threatened the hut and put urgency into the fundraising drive to
      safeguard it.


      "For the last two years rafters in the stables have partially
      collapsed
      under the weight of the snow and the other thing we've seen is that
      when the snow melts, it flows into the hut and refreezes," he said.


      "That's never happened before. It's all been in the last three years
      with an unprecedented level of snow accumulation. There's been a
      significant change in terms of the environment."


      The hut is one of the top drawcards of Antarctica and still features
      Scott's sleeping bag lying on the bunk which he left in 1911 on his
      ill-fated expedition to the South Pole, never to return.


      New Zealand is responsible for preserving the Cape Evans hut, as well
      as Scott's earlier hut near Scott Base and another built by Sir Ernest
      Shackleton at Cape Royds, but is continuing to lobby for Britain to
      chip in 3 million (NZ$8.7m) for its share of the cost.


      Watson said they were looking at a range of options to help the site
      cope with snow accumulation, including lessening snow build-up by
      installing wind vanes to create a vortex, or barriers. No decision has
      been announced and any plan would need approval by the Ministry of
      Foreign Affairs and Trade.


      Amy Ng, a Wellington-based conservator, said in a blog that it took
      about a week of hard work to dig out the hut so they could use a
      jackhammer to create a drainage channel in the frozen ground to avert
      a repeat of the meltwater that flooded the hut in 2004.


      She said snowfalls around the hut this winter were much higher than in
      previous years.


      To reduce the need for future manpower, the Antarctic Heritage Trust
      is in the final stages of developing a strategy to manage the
      accumulation of snow around the hut. The team of conservators has
      moved on to the hut at Cape Royds built by Shackleton's 1908
      expedition.
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