Monday, June 23, 2014

Japan on ice

A few years ago, devoted readers would have seen my post showing photos of various Antarctic national stations. (Quite a good post for its combination of curiosity, education and entertainment, if I do say so myself.)

Today, I read that Japan is thinking of building a new Antarctic station to continue its work of drilling into deep, deep ice, for the purpose of investigating the ancient atmosphere for climate research.

The article doesn't say exactly where the new station would be, but notes that if you're really desperate for a place to sleep, you may find an empty Japanese building in Antarctica:
Tokyo already has four stations on the frozen continent, two of which are currently in use—the Syowa Station on the coast and the Dome Fuji Station inland.

Japanese research teams at Dome Fuji Station have sampled air captured in as long ago as 720,000 years, after drilling down 3,000 metres (1.86 miles).

At the proposed new base, scientists would be able to drill down to reach ice that formed 1 million years ago, beating the current sampling record held by a European team, which has looked at 800,000-year-old ice.
So, what does the Dome Fuji Station look like?  It didn't feature in my previous post, probably because it's rather dull:


In fact, the Japanese National Institute of Polar Research website that that photo came from indicates nothing much is going on right now at the station:
Dome-Fuji Station was established in January, 1995 to conduct deep ice-core drilling at the highest dome of Dronning Maud Land, some 1000 km away from Syowa Station. After completing 3035 m deep drilling, the station is being closed temporarily.
But there is a more entertaining photo to be found about it, on what appears to be a Japanese guy's  Flickr feed:

That's an amusingly Japanese photo, even if I have no idea exactly what they are doing.   (I also wonder if the middle two guys are from that country.)  The caption beside the photo notes this:
Japanese Antarctic Research Expedition 35th members welcomed the arrival of those of 36th after 4 months construction work for Dome Fuji Station. The station became famous later thanks to a popular cinema movie "南極料理人 (Antarctic Chef)" and we are happy if you recall the station was constructed by us in such a harsh environment (altitude 3820 m; max air temperature -29 degree C; atmospheric pressure around 750 hPa) without taking a bath for 4 months.
 Well, it sounds like the movie might be worth tracking down.

By the way, I have no clear  idea what the Japanese man on whose flickr account this appears does for a living.  He certainly takes a heck of a lot of photos of what looks like cycling races, interspersed with graphs, and the occasional photo of him doing something science-y looking. 

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