The Halley Research Station is temporarily shutting down given concerns on ice cracks. All the staff will be pulled out from the Antarctica in March for safety after they observed a 25-mile crack in the ice 10 miles north of the station.

The Halley VI is run by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS). It is based on the Brunt Ice Shelf. The staff is not in danger, but they think that it would be advisable to leave the place for precaution. They expect to return to the Antarctica once the winter is over, in November. They still have not decided what they are going to do with the on-going research.

The Halley Research Station is temporarily shutting down given concerns on ice cracks. Photo credit: Discover Magazine
The Halley Research Station is temporarily shutting down given concerns on ice cracks. Photo credit: Discover Magazine

“As a precautionary measure, BAS will remove its people before the Antarctic winter begins.” Said the British Antarctic Survey

The BAS has chosen to remove its staff from the Halley VI station located on the Brunt Ice Shelf in the Antarctica. This move comes as a response to a new crack on the ice near to where the station is located. According to BAS officials, they observed a 25-mile crack about 10 miles north of the station. They say that they don’t know what is going to happen with the ice break, but given this unpredictable situation, it is better not to risk the staff. They say that the crack might cut off Halley.

The Halloween crack

However, though the crack was key to understanding the decision taken by the BAS, it is not the cause. They are more concerned about a different break. A fissure that opened the ice 17 km to the north and east of the base. It was called “the Halloween Crack” since it was discovered on 31 October 2016.

“Changes to the ice, particularly the growth of a new crack, presents a complex glaciological picture that means that BAS scientists are unable to predict with certainty what will happen to the ice shelf during the forthcoming Antarctic winter,” the research organization said in a statement.

BAS say that they don’t expect the crack to widen much more, but they don’t want to risk the staff because, in the case of a calving event, it would be extremely difficult to react in the depth of the Antarctic winter, when everything is very dark and cold. They say that a temporary closure of the station is the prudent action to take. They expect to return in November once the winter in the Antarctic is over.

Halley VI has been vital to gather climate data         

Along with the Rothera base on the Antarctic Peninsula, Halley leads the UK presence in the Antarctic. It gathers data on climate change, and its data played a critical role in the identification of the ozone hole in 1985.  Recently, Halley VI has become an important center for studying solar activity and its impact on our planet.

The staff, which is integrated by 20 people, is concerned about the ongoing experiments. They don’t know if they should shut them too until they come back or let them run autonomously. They did say they will monitor the Halloween Crack via satellite to see how it develops in the winter.

Source: BBC