Thursday, 29 May 2014

Antarctic base "Dumont d'Urville"
- a bit of Europe at 66°39′ S

The Dumont d'Urville Antarctic Base is a French scientific station located in on Île des Pétrels, in Adélie Land ("Terre d'Adélie").

Coordinates: 66° 39′ S, 140° 0′ E
Occupation: 30-120 scientists

Dumont D'Urville station opened on 1956, to serve as center for French scientific research during the Antarctic International Geophysical Year 1957/1958. The station has remained in active use ever since.

It is operated by the "Polar Institute Paul-Émile Victor", a joint operation of French public and private agencies.

The station allows 30-40 people to come ashore at one time. Often, strong katabatic winds prevent landings, either by Zodiac or by helicopter.
The station can accommodate from 30 in winter to 120 during the summer.

The station plan

Dumont D'Urville station looks like a chaotic collection of cheap prefab metallic containers, most in orange to red tones.

It's frequently not inviting outside...

The Meteo Station

Inside the Meteo unit

The accomodation, unit 42 ('dortoir')

'Biomar', the marine biological lab

Le Séjour is the most demanded unit in the base; it contains the kitchen, the large room where the crew daily gathers for the meals, for parties and dancing or playing games (ping pong, snooker); Le Séjour also has a library with over 7 000 books, the video room and the café-bar.

'Le Séjour', an ugly box outside but nevertheless the best place in town.

The dining rooom.

The café-bar.

'Le Salon', the resting room.

For a good start of the day, nothing better, especially if you are French.

Le Séjour on an early summer day (starts from 25th December), under the 24h sun.

Another popular unit is the Radio / Post office, always busy with lots of mail in and out:

L'Astrolabe, the most welcome visit:

The icebreaker ship L'Astrolabe carries supplies and personnel to the station from the port of Hobart, Tasmania. It does 5 round-trips between November and March.

Compared to others, this is not the most spectacular or good looking station in Antarctica; it has no historic buildings or fabulous surroundings of mountains and glaciers. But it does provide comfort for scientists and support for he explorers of the huge iced continent, and it is a welcome human home in a remote, ruthless, desolate territory.