Antarctica New Zealand's Operations and Infrastructure team plans all transport and support activities for the groups we support in Antarctica. This includes transport (air and land)in and out of the field, equipment and set up of field camps, communication systems (radio and Iridium phone) back to Scott Base, and specialist clothing, equipment and people who can help complete the teams objectives.
Field parties, equipped with the correct clothing and a balanced diet, need to ensure their living accommodation is equally well designed. They use specially designed polar tents, with separate groundsheet made to withstand high winds and wind-driven ice particles. A warm night's sleep is ensured by using a mattress and two sleeping bags.
Field parties may camp up to a hundred days in an Antarctic summer. The weather dictates how much work can be accomplished. The most demanding conditions are associated with high winds or with whiteout conditions. Whiteout is a time of complete cloud cover at low altitude possibly with snow. In whiteout there is no detail in the snow or cloud, crevasses and the horizon are both invisible, so it is dangerous to be moving into unknown territory. By contrast, in high winds, snow drifts near the ground, and a combination of wind-driven snow and wind-chill can make it difficult to collect scientific data accurately. Such days are best spent "lying up" and working within the safety of the tent. In periods of good weather during the continuous daylight of midsummer field parties may work around the clock to compensate for time spent lying up.
Antarctica New Zealand has a number of policies and procedures in place to ensure the safety of all people supported by the programme, whether they are at Scott Base or out in the field. These procedures include:
A variety of transport methods are used to transport people and equipment in Antarctica. Transport types include:
Antarctica New Zealand currently contracts Southern Lakes Helicopters (SLH) to provide flight services within Antarctica. SLH provide an AS350 B3 (Aeorospatial Squirrel rego IDE) helicopter, which is joined with aircraft from the United States and Italian Antarctic Programmes to form a logistics pool shared between the three nations. This shared pool enables each programme to travel where they need to go to support their activies in the most efficient way, reducing fuel consumption through shared loads, thus lowering the impacts of human activity. Helicopter travel must also adhere to environmental regulations which prohibit flights over protected areas and provide guidelines for landing close to animals.