LIVING ON 'THE ICE'

on . Posted in SANSA Space Science News

The land of ice and snow, the coldest, windiest, driest, least populated and most remote corner of the world, is not a place for the faint hearted. Those brave enough to embark on a journey to Antarctica will forever have a deep connection to this icy land.

The 4500 km journey to Antarctica begins at the Cape Town Harbour aboard the SA Agulhas II, a research and supply vessel. For the next three weeks rough seas, delays and seasickness are often a challenge, but it's all worthwhile when you catch a glimpse of some of the most spectacular sights you could ever imagine. Breath-taking views of icebergs and ice floats, sunrises and sunsets, not to mention the various local inhabitants such as penguins, whales and seals frolicking in the icy water as you approach the Ice shelf.

Once the ship reaches the shelf the next series of challenges begin and one must be fit and able to carry out hard manual labour under extreme weather conditions. No one escapes the gruelling task of unloading the supplies and gear from the ship onto the Ice shelf and from there hauling the load across 300 km of snow and ice to SANAE IV, the South African National Antarctic Expedition base. There are no shops on the Antarctic continent so all the supplies needed to work and live at the base must be planned right down to the last tea bag.

Space Weather: A Risk to World Economy and Society

on . Posted in SANSA Space Science News

We often take for granted that the technology we have become so accustomed to rely on daily can be affected not only by weather on Earth but also by more extreme weather in space.

An extreme space weather event, or solar superstorm, is one of a number of potentially high impact, but low probability natural hazards. In response to a growing awareness by governments, extreme space weather now features as an element of national risk assessment in numerous countries.

Solar superstorms can have detrimental effects on the power grid, satellites, avionics, and aircraft over polar regions, High Frequency (HF) radio communication, mobile telephones and GPS systems, to name a few. Space weather has consequently been identified as a risk to the world economy and to society. In the UK solar storms are listed as the fourth most serious threat on the National Risk Register and are recognised as having a potential significant impact on the UK's critical national infrastructure.

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