There have been a couple other AMA threads out there, but most were in the past tense, and all were from the "other" side of the continent, people working at the relatively large station of McMurdo, which can hold well over a thousand people. So I figure I'd give people some perspective from this side.

I'm currently working at Palmer Station, which is ~700 miles south of Chile and has a maximum capacity of just 44 people (we have 26 here currently).


Ask Away!

Edit Because I'm getting the same questions many times:

-It's not as cold as you'd think, currently around 30f with some light snow falling. Winters are in the 0F range and summers are in the 50s. This station is so far north that we're not actually in the Antarctic Circle, and the ocean currents coming down from South America keep things pretty mild. The other US stations get WAY colder, South Pole was -98F a couple days ago.

-I'm a general building maintenance/make-broken-stuff-not-broken/carry-heavy-things-around guy. This place is pretty small so job descriptions are a bit loose.

-I got this job via dumb luck, I had applied years ago to work on the other side (McMurdo), but then my resume happened to be on top of the pile when the guy they had lined up for this job at Palmer decided not to show up for the airplane. They called me in a rush, asked if I could deploy in three weeks, and it went from there. This is my second season down here, I did a winter at this station a few years ago.

-Male/Female ratio is about 70/30, but it can vary drastically depending on how many science groups are here. Dating happens in roughly the same manner as any other population.

EDIT AGAIN OMFG replies. I've done another batch, but I'm going to start skipping the common/repetitive/boring/stupid questions.

FINAL EDIT Seems like this has mostly run it's course, but if anyone still has things they're curious about, feel free to post and I'll answer it in the next day or two. To everyone asking for a link to the job websites, I'm not going to link myself, as there may be some weird legal issues with me being employed currently. I don't know, but I will say that 30 seconds of googling will find you all of the information that you will need. In fact, someone in this thread has actually linked to one of the main pages directly

Comments: 660 • Responses: 46  • Date: 

IhaveSomeQuestions56105 karma

1) How does someone with 0 experience get a job in Anarctica?

2) What law do you fall under? Who enforces it?

3) I imagine people have a what happens in Anarctica stays???

4) Is it possible to get illegal drugs there?

5) What do you miss the most about where you are from?

6) How is the food?

7) Do you have any funny stories about people getting fired and having to leave in shame?

8) What is the worst crime you have heard of since being there?

9) Best Anarctica legend?

10) How much do you tip at a sit down restaurant in the US?

TotallyToast116 karma

Hey, some interesting questions instead of another "How cold is it?"! :)

-Have some kind of useful working-with-your-hands skill, and spam the hiring website relentlessly for any and every position that you're even slightly qualified for or able to do. If you've really go no idea the difference between a claw or ball-peen hammer, get a job as a DA (dishwasher) for a season. The job sucks balls (seriously, it's horrible), but you can network and meet people. If you prove yourself to be a hard worker and smart, you'll probably get an offer from one of the other departments that has ill-defined job requirements, but needs people that are very sharp and will bust their ass.

-We operate under US law, there's no police force here but we're pretty good at self-policing. If you fuck up you get fired, so that's an incentive to not be a blatant dumbshit.

-A bit. More so after we got some backlash on the ice after some of the more interesting recreational activities made the mainstream news circuits (like the jello wrestling incidents)

-Of course not, that would be naughty and in gross violation of the Antarctic Treaty. Or something.

-Fresh fruits and veggies are the most prized and rare items and we miss them when we don't have them; we're only supplied once every 4-6 weeks, and the other stations are completely cut off over the winter. But other than that? Fuck the real world, with it's traffic and rent and bills and hassles. I and most other people are here because we love it here.

-Here at Palmer the food is pretty damn good, very good in fact. This is mostly a function of the small population and leeway the cooks are given to make whatever the hell they want. At McMurdo, where they have to feel 1200+ people and often just go from the US Navy recipe book, it can be less appetizing.

-WAY too many to type up here. Google around for some, Big Dead Place is an amusing repository of outlandish half-truths and exaggerations that are good for a chuckle.

-There was the infamous "Hammer Incident" a number of years ago at McMurdo where one guy tried to kill a couple other dudes with a hammer.

-Boozy the Clown has been known to make appearances from time to time, heaven help the person s/he sets sights on.


bearskinz63 karma

Have you seen the movie "The Thing"?

TotallyToast86 karma

At least once a season we have "Bad Antarctic Movie Weekend", where we watch it, Aliens Vs Predator, Virus, and whatever other terrible movies we can find. Usually while decently lubricated and throwing things at the screen.

Hoplite120 karma

John Carpenters The Thing is AMAZING dont insult it!

TotallyToast2 karma

Well we do have random cabinets and things around station labeled "Flamethrower Storage"

rakantae61 karma

How do you get down there? I imagine you can't just book a flight on Delta.

TotallyToast121 karma

If you go to McMurdo or South Pole, you fly in military C-130 or C-17 cargo planes, wedged in the cargo bay in between pallets full of doohickies and doohicky parts.

However, Palmer Station (where I'm at) is so small that there's no room for an airstrip or anything, so we get here via ship. We fly down to the southern tip of South America, and then board an icebreaker for a week-long trip across the Drake Passage and eventually arriving on station. The ship usually sails once a month and is also our resupply vessel, bringing in supplies and such.

TotallyToast52 karma

Hey guys, it's bed time for me, but if you keep posting questions I'll be back in about 18 hours if there's anything new I haven't answered yet.

AmericanRover43 karma

How often do the scientists have snowball fights with other nationalities stationed in Antarctica?

TotallyToast67 karma

Well the nearest other base is a Ukrainian station well to the south of us on a different island, and after that is probably all the stations on King George Island a few hundred miles to the north. So, never.

That being said, whipping snowballs at co-workers is a very popular way of passing the time here.

sashay3343 karma

What type of entertainment do you have? What is the man/woman ratio and is there alcohol?

TotallyToast131 karma

Pretty good entertainment; we've got a communal lounge/bar area with a 1080p projector and a 110" screen, Wii, PS2, and huge selection of DVDs. The internet connection is reasonable enough that while you're not going to be watching Youtube very easily, you can look at pictures of cats without issues.

There's plenty of booze, and the male/female ratio is about 70/30, but on a station this small it can fluctuate wildly depending on which science groups are here.

Blix3r41 karma

Do you ever have parties with penguins?

Does Morgan Freeman tend to be in your thoughts when you're working alone?

How cold is it at the moment?

Are you ever afraid of an epidemic and you are the last human survivors in a frozen wasteland?

Edit: What would you do after learning of an epidemic?

TotallyToast86 karma

No, we can't hassle the wildlife unless under the supervision of a scientist, for valid scientific reasons (Such as helping to weigh and measure the baby penguins). You wouldn't want to party with penguins, anyway. They smell pretty bad.

No, I'm more of a David Attenborough kind of guy

About 30f.

No, but we would have one hell of a going-out party if we did.

AGreatAdventure16 karma

Would you be afraid of zombie penguins?

TotallyToast64 karma

Not on land, they're pretty stupid even not-zombiefied.

JoePhatty33 karma


TotallyToast56 karma

Satellite link, I think it's on the Iridium network but I could be very wrong, I'm not an IT guy (not right now at least). I was talking to the station manager earlier today about it and he said it's in the $10,000/month range, for a 3mbit link. That little pipe carries everything, from phone calls to pictures of kittens with captions.

JoePhatty37 karma


TotallyToast92 karma

Your tax dollars at work! :D

MaxPowerNz27 karma


Like troops and miners and engineers, (who get stationed in towns with very little areas to spend money)- do you find it easier to save money for the lack of being able to spend it on something else?

If you don't mind me asking, can I have a ball-park figure of how much you would earn in a 6 month stint?


TotallyToast47 karma

This is exactly it; the pay here isn't brilliant, but the fact that you pay for nothing save for booze (housing is provided, as is food and transport) means that every dollar you make rots in your bank account, waiting for you to do something fun with.

Pay vary wildly based on the position, and there is an uplift based upon how many years you've been in Antarctica (starting with 16% for your first year, going to 24% for five or more). Also, the contract just changed companies this year, any most of my info is scuttlebutt from talking with other people, so these numbers might be WILDLY off-base.

The lowest-level jobs, the dishwashers and general assistants and janitors get around $350-$400/week, while the slightly-skilled positions such as "Carpenter's Assistant" get around $500. PC techs can make between $700-$900/week depending on experience, and I hear rumors the very highly skilled trades like Pipewelders and Lineman make way more than that, in the $1500/week+ range.

steve-d15 karma

Since you are not working within the borders of a country how does income tax work?

[deleted]69 karma


TotallyToast2 karma

Actually, because Antarctica is not a foreign country, we do have to pay income tax. It blows goats, but that fight went all the way to the SCOTUS, and we got bitch-slapped.

stevenyee22 karma

If you ran outside naked right now, how long would it take for you to die?

TotallyToast72 karma

Probably an uncomfortably long time, it's only about 30f here now.

salpara22 karma

Are you familiar with Sir Ernest Shackleton and the amazing story of his and his crew's survival after their ship The Endurance became crushed in pack ice? Do people often talk about the history of the place you're at and the previous difficulties people had in reaching it? Are there interesting relics from the past there?

TotallyToast47 karma

Oooooooh yeah. Most of us work here in Antarctica because we love this continent (either that or we're too broken to function in normal societies). Shackleton's hut is still standing a few miles from McMurdo, and due to the climate is shockingly well preserved (it looks like they only left a few years ago). The stories of Amundson and Scott get a lot of traction as well, most ice-people are quite well versed in Antarctic History.

DR62 karma

we're too broken to function in normal societies

Could you talk about the people that "are too broken to function in normal societies"?

TotallyToast7 karma

That's a big of an inside joke, the saying is; The first time you come to Antarctica is for the experience. The second time, it's for the money, and the third time it's because you can no longer function in normal society.

Being on the ice for longish periods of time can often have a very fundamental effect on who you are as a person, especially what you value and aspire to in the world. After you're here a couple times, you find yourself caring less and less about many of the things that we're seemingly supposed to care about when living in a larger society, and only doing things that you really do feel are important. Things like a stable career, predictable lifestyle, owning property, buying shiny new toys, having the right brand name on your clothes, generally being a good little worker bee that keeps society functioning, these lose their luster to many people here.

You go back to the real world, and so much of people's assumptions about life seem so fucked-up. The endless sitting in traffic, the urban pollution, noise, and anal retentiveness. The absurd over-abundance and conspicuous consumption, people freaking out over shit that just doesn't matter. The working all year round, getting a couple of weeks off if your lucky and if your boss says it's okay. People breaking their backs every day at jobs they pretend to care about for companies they pretend to like, stretching themselves to the limit to make the house payment or car payment or credit card payment, so they can have the newest TV or this season's fashions or the upscale kitchen appliances to impress their friends.

Fuck. That. Noise.

I guess I shouldn't slam the real world too much. Many people really do like the stability and security that living in the US full time offers. They like the predictability of it all, having a defined path set out for them at each step). And lets be honest, a lot of people can be very very happy working 9-5, three weeks of vacation a year, couple cars, house and a family. And more power to them.

But it's not for me. And it's not for many of the people I work with.

That's a VAST generalization, of course, and a lot of it probably has to do with the type of people that Antarctica attracts. We have a fair number of one-and-done'ers, people who work a single season and never return. Some people liked it fine but weren't interested in the contracting lifestyle, some never really fit in with the ice culture, some just wanted the experience, some hated it. But many other people stay, some for decades at a time. Because as strange as Antarctica can be, it's nowhere near as strange as America.

TotallyToast28 karma

Ooooooh yeah. Most people who work here in Antarctica are here because they REALLY REALLY wanted to be in Antarctica specifically, very few people are here because "Eh, it's a job". Consequently, most of us are intimately familiar with this continent's history, not only Shackleton but also Scott, Amundson, Byrd, and the many other pioneers who first explored here.

Shackleton's hut is still up a few miles from McMurdo; due to the climate it's remarkably well preserved. It looks like they only left a few years ago.

techiebabe20 karma

Do you have any electricity pylons? Or, as youre such a small base with small need, maybe just a pole carrying electricity, maybe a transformer?

Reason? I run the electricity Pylon Appreciation Society. I know, it sounds geeky. But I was trying to get pics of pylons or poles around the world and no Antarctic scientists have answered me before. I would love to share the answer with our members on our messageboard.

As an aside I heard a fascinating doc on the radio about a doctor on the pole, she also worked as the post office worker! Do you have any unusual roles like that?

TotallyToast30 karma

Actually, no, this station is so small that all the electrical supply is buried cables between the two buildings. If you want pics of that, I'd advise you to google around to find personal blogs of other people currently at McMurdo, and ask them. Scientists are usually too busy to reply to odd requests, but general workers are usually happy to help. A few years ago, someone mailed one of his teeth down to the ice to be buried at the South Pole, and they obliged him.

stereotypicaliowan19 karma

What are your favorite and least favorite parts of your job?

TotallyToast45 karma

My favorite parts of living here is the rec opportunities, and the culture of people at this station. Palmer especially attracts the backpacker crowd, probably a little bit more hippy/granola-eating than the other stations, so I fit in well here. Once summer picks up there are penguins EVERYWHERE, and we can take the Zodiac boats out for recreational usage to drive around and take in the amazingly beautiful location we're in. It's just a really chill place to be in the off hours, the people are cool and the food is good.

Least favorite parts? Anything to do with fixing the sewage system sucks, or cleaning the grease trap in the kitchen. But it's pretty standard building maintenance stuff and I don't really mind much of it more than any other tradesperson does.

random5guy18 karma

What do you guys do down there? What science groups go down there?

TotallyToast21 karma

Mostly marine bio and oceanography, climatology and some air sampling. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute has been coming down here repeatedly for decades with various projects, but we get groups from many different universities.

Armadylspark18 karma

Does the six months darkness/six months light mess with your sleeping schedule?

TotallyToast22 karma

This station is so far north that we have pretty well-defined days at nights, and we never hit the absolutes. We're a few degrees north of the Antarctic Circle, so even at mid-winter's day (June 21st, usually) we get a few hours of twilight surrounded by darkness and at mid-summer, we'll get a few hours of dusk. But for most of the year we have clearly separated days and nights, they just fluctuate a lot.

jeffwong17 karma

Are there any weapons on base? For killing rabid wolves or Norwegians?

TotallyToast2 karma

We've got a rifle and shotgun here, with the intention that they are to be used only for if a scientists needs to "sample" a large animal, like a seal or something (And the paperwork process to be permitted to do this is MASSIVE)

TotallyToast27 karma

Heh, not me :) Those went to McMurdo, the biggest US station on the other side of the continent. We've got plenty of them here though.

one-of-the-herd11 karma

Hey. I was station manager at Palmer for the 1986 season, just before the ship sinking. Having fun? How is the food? Got a good cook? Take your time coming back, it sucks here! Elections and all!

TotallyToast2 karma

Yup, we've got two good cooks this season, so far the food has been great! Still well supplied with freshies even.

sashay3310 karma

What is your occupation?

TotallyToast19 karma

Currently, I'm a general all-purpose building maintenance/help carry heavy things from point A to point B dude. This station is so small that rolls can be loosely defined.

MainStreetExile11 karma

How did you get this job?

TotallyToast13 karma

-I got this job via dumb luck, I had applied years ago to work on the other side (McMurdo), but then my resume happened to be on top of the pile when the guy they had lined up for this job at Palmer decided not to show up for the airplane. They called me in a rush, asked if I could deploy in three weeks, and it went from there. This is my second season down here, I did a winter at this station a few years ago.

That1McGuy9 karma

How long have you been down there and how many times have you went "down there" with coworkers?

TotallyToast13 karma

I did a winter here a couple years ago, and now I'm here for the summer.

That1McGuy10 karma

Now for that other question I asked ;)

TotallyToast23 karma

Which I am avoiding answering to protect the honor of all parties involved (Hey, it was a long winter...)

evilmail8 karma

How strict are you guys about not introducing non-native species? Do they make you check your shoes/clothes to make sure you're not bringing seeds or animals into a pristine environment?

TotallyToast2 karma

Extremely careful about it, especially as so many of us are travelers/backpackers who travel to the rest of the world as well. We all scrub our boots and gear before we come down to make sure we're not "packing a pest"

Kivulini8 karma

Do you get a lot of clear nights down there? I always thought it'd be one of the best places to see the night sky.

TotallyToast14 karma

Actually, very few. Because of the quirks of where we are on the Antarctic Peninsula and how the warm/cold ocean currents line up, the vast majority of our days are overcast and we have a lot of precipitation.

outfoxthefox7 karma

We all know it's cold as fuck and weather can get crazy down there. And I'm sure you looked into things as much as possible and prepared as best you could before making the move down, so with that said:

What do you do there?

How did you get the job?

Were there any changes that you had to make that took you by completely by surprise? Anything you just had to learn by figuring it out? (Like frozen toilets)

TotallyToast17 karma

Not as cold here as you'd think, as I've mentioned above.

I got this job via dumb luck, I had applied years ago to work on the other side (McMurdo), but then my resume happened to be on top of the pile when the guy they had lined up for this job at Palmer decided not to show up for the airplane. They called, asked if I could deploy in three weeks, and it went from there.

I had read extensively about the ice before coming down, as I'd dreamed of it for a long time, so I thought I was mostly prepared for it. What REALLY took me by surprise was the quality of people that I've met here, and how comfortable it is (relatively).

Figuring out how to fix stupid broken things that shouldn't be broken is basically my job :) I can't say anything really stands out above the rest, because every day throws me at something I've never worked on before that I have to sort out. The toilets themselves are indoors and don't freeze, but once we had a heat trace on a sewage line fail and all 40 something foot of the pipe under the building froze and burst. That was an interesting one to get sorted out, it involved jerry-rigging a turbine heater with some huge ducting under the building to get stuff thawed enough that we could get the pipe back together, and re-wrapped in insulation. That was not a fun week.

outfoxthefox5 karma

What kind of background do you have that allows you to get a job like that though? I mean, handy man alone probably ain't gonna cut it. I imagine they want a bit more than that. Can you elaborate?

(Also, thank you for your previous answer!!)

TotallyToast15 karma

Heh, I was a high-school dropout who worked in IT my whole life before coming to the ice. My trades background came from working with my father when I was growing up, he was a contractor doing residential kitchen/bath remodeling.

So yes, handy-man alone will easily cut it as long as they actually know what they're doing, especially if you're okay taking one of the lower-level "Carpenter's Assistant" jobs to get their foot in the door. Now, if you'll be hired back for another season or into a higher position is a different story, but usually once people get here it's very obvious who belongs and who doesn't. Some people don't like the culture here, some lied like rugs on their resumes just to get here but turn out to be hilariously incompetent, some are one-and-done'ers, and some people are just hard workers with enough screws loose that they want to come back.

Half the hiring battle is finding people who fit in with the ice culture, and the other half is people who want to come here in the first place and actually have useful skills; a seemingly huge percentage of ice-dreamers are college kids who majored in 18th century irish poetry or something similarly useless. That's not to say they're excluded, they just usually take one of the super-low-level grunt jobs to start with (One year, every person washing dishes in the galley at McMurdo had a PhD), and prove themselves there. If you're smart, and a hard worker, you'll find a less-sucky job after your intro season. I think our current Cargo/Logistics person majored in Theater and started as a dishwasher, for example.

But if you can swing a hammer, know the difference between a box-end and adjustable crescent wrench, and can select the appropriate sawzall blade for cutting metal instead of wood, you'll probably find work in Antarctica. You'll be outside most of the day and it will be hard, physical labor, but you'll be here.

If you're not already a skilled and established trades-person, the best plan is to get one of the low-level jobs, work your ass off and prove you're sane/crazy enough to survive long-term in Antarctica, and you'll likely be hired back and can start moving up the chain every year.

Dem0n56 karma


TotallyToast3 karma

There's all the work computers, but everyone brings their own laptop (or two, in my case). Lots of tablets this year as well, Palmer has station-wide Wifi, a luxury that they DO NOT have at McMurdo.

We work 9 hours a day, six days a week officially for your job. But at least at Palmer, on top of that there's other station duties that you have to do on rotating schedules. Kitchen Help once or twice a week, and each Saturday everyone pitches in to clean the station by picking chores out of a hat.

Temps stay pretty stable day-round, we're right on the ocean and it helps regulate the temps a lot.

Sure, here's one from when we went boating/hiking last weekend:

Maybe not until retirement, but at least for the next 5 years. I think it's likely that I would come back here every few years through the rest of my life, but a lot can change in the next 40 years.

During the winter I was here we got 65 knot winds sustained, which was a lot of fun trying to do anything in. Snow blowing that hard feels like a sandblaster on your face.

Fossafossa6 karma

Has winter "broken" yet? It doesn't look too bad in that picture, but I guess it just isn't blowing snow. What are you doing/observing that necessitates staying over-winter in the middle of nowhere Antarctica?

TotallyToast8 karma

Not really, we're still getting fresh snow (which you can see in the picture, although my little camera sucks at capturing it). I'm actually part of the summer crew, I got on station a few weeks ago and we're in the process of getting it ready for the upcoming season. I'm a sort-of building maintenance guy, but I wear a lot of other hats as well.

Potz4prez5 karma

If your coworker was dying, would you drink their piss in an effort to make a saving diagnosis if a doctor told you to over a live video stream?

TotallyToast2 karma

Heh, we watched that episode here. They didn't get a single thing right; for one, there's no wind turbines at Pole.

slumlord4 karma

I have a question that haunted me during my adolescence!

I visited Palmer Station back in 1994 on a tourist trip down there (I was 15).

When we went inside, there was a calendar hanging in the kitchen (or some kind of break area), and someone had written on one of the days "SEX DAY". That was the ONLY thing on the calendar for the month (it was December)! My young mind imagined that Palmer Station turned into a hedonistic wonderland for one day in December.

So, my question to you is this: Is "SEX DAY!" a thing at Palmer Station and, if so, is it what my 15 year-old mind thought it was?

TotallyToast2 karma

HA! No, I can promise you that was just Antarctic humor. Someone probably wrote that on there to fuck with the tourists :)

pioneer_queer4 karma

How long do you plan to stay in this job? What kinds of challenges (if any) do you anticipate about returning to life not on Antarctica?

TotallyToast49 karma

We work by the season usually; you're hired for a summer season or a winter season. If you're really nuts, sometimes they'll let you stay a full year. Usually, people will do rotating seasons; they'll work consecutive summers or winters, so they do a sort of six-months-on-six-months-off thing. I plan on being at this job for another couple seasons, and eventually moving up the food chain to some higher-paying positions. I do love my job and wouldn't trade it for the world, but eventually I'll want to be able to save a bit more money so I don't have to hostel it around the world when I travel.

I don't plan on returning to life that's not Antarctica, I can't fathom going back to the rat race. You can keep your white picket fences, 2.3 kids and two SUVs in the driveway, fuck that noise. I'll work for six months, and then I'll go travel for six months. By the time the money runs out it'll be time to come back to the ice.

ChiguireDeRio2 karma

That bit about working six months and travelling six months out of the year reminded me a lot of this movie.

One of the heavy machinery operators had a degree in philosophy. He was talking about how all the people down there are "part-time workers and full-time travelers". I really enjoyed that thought. I actually applied to a job at McMurdo as an Electronics Tech, but never heard back. I wound up getting into grad school. I'll keep on applying until I get an opportunity to go down there though.

Edit: I actually found the guy's quote:

"I think there's a fair amount of the population here who're full time travelers and part time workers. So, yes those are the professional dreamers, they dream all the time. And I think, through them the great cosmic dreams come into fruition because the universe dreams to our dreams. I think that there is many different ways for the reality to bring itself forward, and dreaming is definitely one of those ways"

  • Stefan Pashov, Encounters at the End of the World

TotallyToast2 karma

Ugh, that movie . . . a lot of my friends were at McMurdo when he was there filming that, most of them weren't a fan, they found the cameras very intrusive. And he definitely hammed it up/made it WAY overly dramatic and some stuff was flat-out retarded (Like the scientists putting their ears to the ice to "listen to the seals"). And it was a little strange that he made this shpeel at the beginning that he wasn't there to do another wildlife movie, yet then spends half the movie showing underwater footage of jellyfish and shit. Fuck, if you're going to make a movie about the people down here, actually make it about the people who work here. Not a couple of workers, and then going back to focusing on the science again.

TotallyToast8 karma

Our contract lengths are usually per season: You're hired for the summer or the winter, roughly six months at a time (varies depending on the station). Many people, myself included, work rotating seasons, doing a six-on/six-off type thing. Work a summer, take six months off, come back for another summer, another six months off, etc. I plan on doing this job for another couple of years that way, and eventually I'd like to move up the chain some.

I plan on being on the Antarctic rotation for the forseeable future; the idea of returning to the real world to live full-time, with it's rent and traffic and bills and TV and kids all over the place? I can't think of anything more horrible, that has no appeal to me.

Nakishwana4 karma

Where do I apply?

What nationality are you?

TotallyToast7 karma

If you google around you can easily find the information on which companies fill which positions. It's just like applying for any other type of job.

I'm an American, as are 99.9% of the people who work at the US stations. Other countries have their own stations and have difference processes for working there.

ghrent3 karma

Cool! I'm doing research on Antarctic seismology, but unfortunately I just download datasets and I'm not actually going down there.

How protected are the sensitive scientific instruments from the elements? I'd feel better about my results knowing that the seismometer isn't getting knocked around by 70mph winds.

Are the scientific staff there mostly established researchers or younger people?

TotallyToast8 karma

Well most of the seismology is done on the other side of the continent, often in the Dry Valleys or elsewhere in the vicinity of McMurdo. It's usually up to the science groups to protect their instruments as well as they need to be protected, or at least tell us how protected they need to be so that we can build adequate shelters for them.

I'd say the science staff by population is about 80% young grad students, otherwise known as "Free Slave Labor" for the established scientists. Some of the really established ones don't even bother coming down anymore, they send their slaves/grad students to gather their data for them.

Valeriaan3 karma

How often do you see auroras?

TotallyToast3 karma

Actually, we're so far north at this station that we don't get them very often. And even if we did, we have so frequent cloud cover that we probably wouldn't see them.

aon_m3 karma

How often do you run into the National Geographic guys who do this:

TotallyToast3 karma

Every year, they stop by this station regularly. It's a bit of a vacation for us, they'll usually let us run around on the ship for a while.

MrB1ond32 karma

Do penguins do it doggystyle?

TotallyToast3 karma

Nah, the female lays on her stomach and sticks her tail up, and the male stands on her back and kind of squats. We couldn't figure out what the hell we were looking at when we first saw it.

Polendino2 karma

Is there any communication with other bases? Namely, the Aussies in Mawson/Davis/Casey Antarctic Bases? Are they bros? :D

TotallyToast2 karma

Nah, they're way on the other side of the continent. But we can reach the Ukrainians at Vernadsky on the VHF link, we'll occasionally play chess with them over it.

justinsayin2 karma

Is there a quick way out for non-emergency but important stuff? Like if you got an e-mail that your parent had only 2 days to live...could you get back to the U.S. in a hurry?

TotallyToast2 karma

Not from Palmer you couldn't, because our only link to the world is the ship, and it takes five days to get here from Chile (and then five more to get back). Even if the ship is on station, when you ask to leave, they're not going to alter their schedule and disrupt potentially millions of dollars worth of scientific work just because someone's family is sick.

Now, if there's a medical emergency, they will do everything they can to get the person out ASAP, but if the ship isn't in the area, it might take a few days for it to even get to station, before it can start the transport back to Chile.