Originally published on 30 March, 2022 on odt.co.nz

Sir Edmund Hillary’s legacy lives on at Scott Base in the form of a new science building that has arrived at Antarctica.

NZ Foam are proud to have been asked to insulate this new building with spray foam insulation – providing the highest R-Value possible in the coldest climate on earth.

Image: The new science building. Photo: Antarctica New Zealand / Russell Knipe

The small but strong building will support several experiments, some of which have continued uninterrupted since 1957 when Sir Edmund and his team set up Scott Base.

The new building is part of a $334 million overhaul of the base that is set to be finished in 2028.

Antarctica New Zealand chief executive Sarah Williamson said the building will be used by scientists at Scott Base to “answer some of the world’s most important science questions”.

“This research informs policies that will help plan, prepare for, and protect the future,” Williamson said.

“After receiving the funding and the Government’s endorsement to proceed with the redevelopment in 2021, it’s fantastic to see progress on the ice already being made.

“The new long-term science building is a great step forward for the Scott Base Redevelopment.”

Looking out towards Black and White Islands, the new building will house the latest super sensitive radio receiver, nicknamed ‘ChlOE’, which is tuned to measure chlorine monoxide – a key compound in the destruction of ozone.

Scott Base is one of only three sites in the world to take the measurements, as it is located beneath the annually occurring ozone hole.

The building will also provide data logging support and power to a number of other experiments, including a weather station, seismic experiment, geophysical monitoring using global navigation satellite system, and the AARDDVARK experiment that measures space weather.

The new science building has been constructed to endure the hostile environment, including average temperatures of about -19.8 deg C down to the lowest recorded at Scott Base -57.0 deg C on September 25, 1968). It is also elevated to help manage snowdrift. 

Images: NZ Foam spray foam insulation in the shipping container that was transformed in to the new science building at Scott Base in Antarctica

Scott Base Redevelopment Project director Jon Ager said the new base is being designed to facilitate world-leading science and will better support local and deep-field science with improved efficiencies.

“Constructing the new base had the potential to impact some of the long-term science experiments, so we needed to move these with sufficient time to validate data collected in the new facilities,” he said.

“Antarctica New Zealand and members of the science community have been working in partnership to relocate these experiments, and we can’t wait to see the results of our work.”

The building was transported on the HMNZS Aotearoa, the Royal New Zealand Navy ship’s maiden voyage to Antarctica.
The “Chelsea Cucumber” green building pays homage to the existing Scott Base, which will be deconstructed and returned to New Zealand after the new base is up and running.

The new building was designed by Hugh Broughton Architects, WSP, Steensen Varming, Holmes Fire, and ACOR, and built and installed by Leighs Construction with support from the United States Antarctic Program.