Leaders, Teams and Situations Outside the Norm
Edited by Cristina M. Giannantonio and Amy E. Hurley-Hanson
Chapter 4: Leaders in Antarctica: characteristics of an Antarctic station manager
This chapter focuses on leaders whose workplace is the world’s coldest, windiest and driest continent: Antarctica. Sitting at the southern pole, this remote, hostile environment represents 10 percent of the world’s landmass, with its total summer surface area being approximately one and a half times the size of the US, twice the size of Australia and 50 times larger than the UK (Walker, 2012). The continent’s highest point exceeds 16 000 feet (4892 meters) and temperatures fall to below –129 Fahrenheit (–89° Celsius). With wind speeds in excess of 200 miles (320 kilometers) per hour, snow is driven in blizzard conditions, while below 60 degrees latitude long months of complete darkness prevail.Since the signing of the Antarctic Treaty in 1959, nations including the US, the UK, Australia and New Zealand have established a series of scientific stations. The British Antarctic Survey currently operates two permanent scientific stations in Antarctica, from which geologists, glaciologists, atmosphericists and biologists range to explore their disciplines. Technical personnel, such as electrical, heating and venting engineers, vehicle mechanics, radio and medical staff, support the central mission of scientific discovery and usually remain on station for two and a half years without a break. Most station personnel follow a ‘normal’ working day, with meals being taken communally, although at the day’s close, ‘home’ is where they are. In this emptiest of the world’s continents, devoid of indigenous people, around 1000 scientists and support personnel overwinter on the various national stations.
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