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Podcast: The Berg Field Center
Posted March 29, 2018
Photo Credit: Mike Lucibella
Located uphill from most of the rest of town, the Berg Field Center is home to all the survival gear used by researchers in the field.
In Antarctica, scientists conduct cutting edge research on a harsh and barren continent. It's no easy task, but to help make it happen the U.S. Antarctic Program employs small army of support staff to get these researchers the supplies they need, transport them to where they need to go and keep them safe throughout.
A lot of the jobs they do are the same that any small town needs to function, often with a specialized twist that comes with working in such a remote place, but others can be less obvious. The Antarctic Sun Podcast is taking a behind-the-scenes look at the workers and what they do to make science at the bottom of the world possible.
This Episode: The Berg Field Center
Antarctica is a continent devoted to science, set aside as a pristine natural laboratory for researchers to study. But it's a laboratory unlike any other on the planet. The continent's subzero temperatures and vast empty expanses punctuated by dangerous crevasses are a constant hazard for scientists out in “the field.” To work here safely, researchers need specialized equipment beyond just test tubes and lab coats.
The Berg Field Center, known more popularly as the BFC, is home to all the survival supplies a team of researchers working in the farthest, most remote corners of the continent would need. They can check out everything from tents and sleeping bags to ice axes and crampons. It's the program's lending library for outdoor gear.
There's a saying that Antarctica can be "a harsh continent," and that can be especially true on the gear used out in the field. Not only do the people working at the BFC have to keep track of the immense amount of equipment that's constantly being checked in and out, but they have to make sure it's kept in good condition and each piece of equipment is in good working order before it goes out the door. Over the dark winter months when no researchers are out in the field, the team at the BFC repairs any wear and tear they find, before issuing it again the next season.