Feb 05, Earth/Earth Sciences
Halley Research Station, devoted primarily to work in atmospheric science, was established by British Antarctic Survey in 1956. Halley researchers also perform glaciology and geology studies. Notably, scientists first recorded ozone layer depletion in the stratosphere above the Antarctic here.
Antarctic conditions have caused problems for Halley research bases. Accumulated snow, measured at more than three feet per year, crushed buildings in the first four bases. Movement of the ice shelf toward the ocean at an annual rate of a quarter of a mile means that research stations are at risk of falling into the ocean when ice separates from the mainland. These factors give buildings that cannot be moved a lifespan of only ten years.
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Halley V had extensible steel legs, allowing operators to maintain the buildings above the snow's surface. The legs, though raised every year, were eventually trapped in 75 feet of ice. Because the station was rendered immobile, it was carried along with the ice and was therefore at risk of plummeting into the ocean when the ice caved.
In June 2004, the British Antarctic Survey and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) launched a competition to design a new research station. In addition to being able to cope with moving ice and heavy snow accumulation, this new station would have to provide psychological comfort to the station's residents—around 70 in summer and around 16 in winter—who are at great risk of stress and depression related to the harsh Antarctic weather and permanent lack of sunlight in winter.
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