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What is it Like to Live in Antarctica? | Antarctic Extremes

What is it Like to Live in Antarctica? | Antarctic Extremes


(playful oboe music) – I’m sorry, is this real?
– Yeah, that’s real. It’s a desiccated penguin. That’s a hundred year old
penguin, yeah, dead penguin. – That’s disgusting. And you guys left this in your museum? (chuckles) – [Michael] We don’t judge. – [Caitlin] Some of the
earliest Antarctic explorers lived here between 1911 and 1917. – [Michael] Things are
pretty much as intact as when they left. It’s kind of hallowed ground for explorers to see how fast they departed and how they left everything behind. – This was the true age of exploration. – [Arlo] Robert Falcon
Scott aimed to be the first to reach the South Pole and his team made this
hut their home base. – He was very much interested in science, as well as exploration. They had all kinds of experiments here, meteorological, biological,
and geological observations. – [Caitlin] Scott actually made it but a Norwegian beat him there and then he froze to
death on the way back. – [Arlo] Living here was pretty rough. – [Caitlin] Seal blubber. Gross! – [Arlo] And in some ways, it still is. – [Caitlin] But despite its hostility, people are still drawn to
this desolate continent today. What is living here like now? Who comes here and why? (dramatic orchestral music) – All right, fresh bagels, guys. – While living in Antarctica for a month, we experienced basically two
very different lifestyles. I set this up all by myself! One in the remote field camps. I’m pretty proud. The other in what residents
affectionately call the Town, McMurdo Station. – [Caitlin] This 105-building
station was established in the 50s and today houses
around 900 people in summer. – [Arlo] And it’s got
just about everything, dorms, offices, a hospital, fire station, waste treatment plant, weather office, vehicle maintenance shop, and 24/7 pizza. – If you’re gonna get a slice of pizza 20 minutes before dinner time, I’m at least gonna shame you about it. And it’s all here to support science, (penguins chirp and gak) stuff like research on penguins, seals, volcanoes, climate science, weird-looking glaciers, even fish. McMurdo provides logistical support for science across western
Antarctica and the South Pole. – [Arlo] But most people in
this town aren’t scientists. – Oh man, this is the
best place in the world to be a trash man. No flies, no rats, nothing rots. It’s frozen, doesn’t even really stink. – [Arlo] They are the
people who handle the trash, they are the cooks, the mechanics. – Without us, without support people, there would be no science. You need this big population
of 700 to 1,000 people to support maybe 300 scientists because you’ve gotta get them
to where they need to go, you’ve gotta get their
equipment, their food, their water, and so forth. – [Caitlin] They’re essential
for the science to happen but a lot of them never even
get to leave the station, which looks and feels sort
of like an aging mining town. So it’s hard to see on the surface what’s so appealing about this place. (dramatic orchestral music) – People either come down
their first season and say that’s it, it’s a bucket list thing, and then they never come back and there’s others that just come back year after year after year. It’s either just out of
curiosity or adventure or they just get into the community and stay with the community. I never thought I’d be doing this. I left a pretty good job to come down here and I stayed and I keep coming back. – What was your previous job? – I worked on the Space Shuttle, Kennedy Space Center in Florida. – [Caitlin] No kidding!
– Yeah. – [Caitlin] Space Shuttle to snowmobiles? – Yeah, I know, it’s kinda– – [Caitlin] You must really
like (laughs) it down here. – [Arlo] In a way,
McMurdo kind of operates like a college campus. All of your basic needs,
like meals and housing, are taken care of. (truck beeps) – You can do more with
your social time here than anywhere else in the world ’cause you’re not buying groceries, you’re not buying gas,
you’re not paying bills. I see more live music here
than I do almost anywhere else and then I get to eat three meals a day with eight of my close friends. (whimsical oboe music) – [Arlo] In the few weeks we spent here, we found that the bottom of the world is actually a pretty social place. – Yeah, there’s a lot of people who come here to escape people. It’s not that great of a place
to escape people, honestly. – [Caitlin] And it turns out on a continent where there’s
no cell phone service, you get to know people on
a whole different level. Arlo, who was your teenage crush? – Hilary Duff. (Caitlin laughs) – [Caitlin] A Baby! – [Man] It’s okay. – [Caitlin] While McMurdo
Station can be the social and logistical hub of Antarctica, the science it supports can happen in much more remote and
isolated environments. (helicopter blades flutter distantly) – [Krista] Probably the first thing you’ll notice once the helicopter goes
away is how quiet it is. It’s absolutely just
super quiet out there. You really are out there
with just your team. – [Caitlin] This is where we encountered the second Antarctican lifestyle. – [Arlo] Out in the remote field camps, you often live in a
tent, cook your own food, even poop in a bucket and
bring it back to town. – [Krista] You will be pretty amazed at how gusty it can get out there. Yeah, you gotta keep your wits about you. You can’t put anything down on the ground without expecting it to
blow away at any moment. – [Arlo] On the ice, you have to watch out for deadly hidden cracks and, of course, it’s freezing cold and windy. – It’s a strange environment to want to go and spend months away
from everyone you know and everything you know in
the pursuit of something. – [Caitlin] In addition
to completing their work, whether that be scientific research or logistical support for that research, the teams have to, well, survive and the environment makes
everything exponentially harder. – [Britney] Nothing ever works
exactly how you want it to and so there’s all these
different challenges. The technology frost
is always a challenge. We had a software glitch. We actually really don’t
know what happened. But things like that. (pensive music) – Working here is like
going up the down escalator. You have to push a little bit harder or else it’s just gonna
push you back down again. And so things are breaking all the time. It’s cold, so things
snap, things freeze up. You have to make that extra push in order to make things work. Time to get serious. (chuckles) There we go. – But why do science unless you absolutely
love what you’re studying? I mean, it’s so consuming sometimes. I think you have to be really passionate and really enjoy, ’cause
this is grueling sometimes. (laughing) This is really grueling! So I think you have to have the love. – [Caitlin] But despite the challenges, or perhaps because of them, comes an addictive sense of satisfaction. – I always tell people it
becomes more and more like work all the time and that’s
just a joke, it’s not true. (group laughs) – I don’t get it. – It’s not more and more
like work all the time. I still enjoy it. I actually enjoy bringing new people down. You know, and then you
see how they react, right? – [Caitlin] We came to Antarctica to report on the research
being conducted down here but the people we met
were just as fascinating. (quiet laughter) – There’s something about remote research that really appeals to me
and I don’t know what it is. – It was the hardest thing I’d ever done in the most beautiful
place I could imagine. – [Caitlin] It’s a bit less dangerous than it was for the first explorers and there’s a lot more support, but this place still
has a powerful allure. – They say that when you shake the planet, all the weird stuff falls to the bottom. (chuckles) I guess I’m
one of the weird ones. (playful music) (strums ukulele)
(quiet chattering) ♪ A la la la la long ♪ ♪ A la la la la long
long li long long long ♪ – [Man] Oh, somebody showed
me this when I was a kid. I forgot all about this one. – Pick two cards. Pick one card. – [Woman] Oh my god! – Oh! – You picked it. It’s magic! ♪ Til you can’t sweat no more ♪ ♪ And if you cry out ♪ ♪ I’m gonna push it ♪ ♪ Push it, push it some more ♪ (group cheers and applauds) (synth music) (calm music)

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