Wednesday, 13 January 2010

AWI's Neumeyer III - a base and a fleet in Antarctica

Neumayer Station III

The new center of german research in Antarctica.
Position: 70°40'S, 008°16'

On February 20th, 2009, the new german Antarctic research base Neumayer Station III was inaugurated. This is the first research station to integrate research, operational and accommodation facilities in one building, situated on a platform above the snow surface, and connected to a garage in the snow.

Within a protective casing, the platform accommodates 100 containers with living quarters, a kitchen, a mess, a hospital, various laboratories, workshops, a radio operator room, sanitary facilities, the power supply station and a snow-melting plant.

A primary feature of the new station is the ability to compensate for adverse effects of snow and ice accumulation by means of hydraulic elevation of the building, without leaving parts of the construction to be swallowed by snow. The station's energy supply comes from a block heat and power plant containing four diesel generators of 150 kW each.

Nine or at most ten people live and work at Neumayer Station during the Antarctic winter: a medical doctor who also acts as the head of the station, a meteorologist, an airchemist, two geophysicists, an engineer, an electrician, a radio operator/electronics engineer and a cook. Each team overwintering at the station stays there for 14 to 15 months. For nine months of that time, their only link to the outside world is by radio. In the short Antarctic summer, 30 searchers at most can live there.

Now itself buried 12 meters under the snow surface and under increasing structural pressure, Neumayer II had to be replaced by a new station. Neumayer III was shipped to Antarctica in January 2008 as an assembly kit comprising of the outer structure and shell of the station, and of the interlocking containers that sit inside and make up its interior habitable structure.

With a weight of 2 300 tons, Neumayer III consists of a superstructure raised on 16 hydraulic legs (resting on as many foundation slabs) that can be jacked up progressively over the years to elevate the building and counter snow accumulation. Neumayer III is a show-case of modern building technology, an will be runned by the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) for polar and marine research.


The Alfred Wegener Institute carries out research in the Arctic and Antarctic. The institute coordinates German polar research and makes available to national and international science important infrastructure, like the research ice breaker “Polarstern” and research stations .

The Polar 5, a new research plane also developed by the Alfred Wegener Institute specifically for this region.

The research icebreaker Polarstern:

A floating large-scale laboratory