Orcadas Base

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Coordinates: 60°44′25″S 44°44′33″W / 60.74028°S 44.74250°W / -60.74028; -44.74250

Orcadas Antarctic Station
Orcadas Base, 26 December 1996.
Orcadas Base, 26 December 1996.
Location map for Orcadas Base
Location map for Orcadas Base
Coordinates: 60°44.25′S 44°44.33′W / 60.73750°S 44.73883°W / -60.73750; -44.73883
Elevation 4 m (13 ft)
Population
 • Total 45
  45 in summer, 11 in winter

Base Orcadas is an Argentine scientific station in Antarctica, and the oldest of the stations in Antarctica still in operation. It is located on Laurie Island, one of the South Orkney Islands (Spanish: Islas Orcadas del Sur), at 4 meters (13.1 ft) above sea level and 170 meters (558 ft) from the coastline. Since 1904 Argentina has kept the base permanently populated, being one of six Argentine permanent bases in Argentina's claim to Antarctica, and the first permanently inhabited base in Antarctica.

The nearest port is the Argentine city of Ushuaia, which is 1,502 km (933 mi) away. The base has 11 buildings and four main topics of research: continental glaciology, seismology, sea-ice-zone glaciology (since 1985) and meteorological observations (since 1903).

Orcadas was the only station on the islands for 40 years until the British established a small summer base, Cape Geddes Station in Laurie Island in 1946, replaced by Signy Research Station in Signy Island in 1947. It also had the first radiotelegraph in the continent in 1927. The 11 buildings of the station house up to 45 people during the summer, and an average of 14 during winter.

History[edit]

In 1903 Dr William S. Bruce's Scottish National Antarctic Expedition established Omond House, a meteorological station on Laurie Island. During the expedition, however, the crew became stuck in the ice and, unable to sail off, were trapped in the station for the winter.

Bruce left the station in December of that year for Buenos Aires to fix the ship and obtain supplies, leaving meteorologist Robert C. Mossman in charge of the base to continue the observations.

Bruce offered to the Government of President Julio Argentino Roca the transfer of the station and instruments for the sum of 5.000 pesos, on the condition that the government committed itself to the continuation of the scientific mission.[1] He also offered to transport in his ship the appointed personnel back to the station.

Bruce had informed to the British officer William Haggard of its intentions in December 1903. On 29 December, Haggard sent a note to the Argentine Foreign Minister, Jose Terry, ratifying the terms of Bruce proposition.[1] Roca submitted the matter to the Oficina Meteorologica Nacional (National Office of Meteorology) who advised to accept the offering. On January 2, 1904, the installations were accepted through a presidential decree.[2]

The Scotia sailed back for Laurie Island on 14 January 1904 carrying on board Luciano H. Valette, from the Office of Zoology of the Ministry of Agriculture, Edgard C. Szmula, employee of the National Meteorological Office, and Hugo Acuña, from the Ministry of Livestock, who was also designated Postal Chief of the Orkney Islands by the Director General of the National Postal and Telegraphs Office, Manuel Garcia Fernandez. Mossman was left in charge of the expedition, along with William Smith as cooker.

In 1906, Argentina communicated to the international community the establishment of a permanent base on South Orkney Islands. On August 26, Haggard sent a letter to Foreign Minister Manuel Montes de Oca reminding him that South Orkneys Islands were British. The British position was that Argentine personnel was granted permission only for the period of one year. Argentine government ignored the note, "considering it out of time".[1]

On March 30, 1927, naval non-commissioned officer Emilio Baldoni established the first radio telegraph link with Usuahia. Up to that point, the Orcadas Base remained isolated from the rest of the world until the yearly relieve arrived. The radio station (coded LRT in Argentina) allowed for a permanent communication link.

The station depended on the Ministry of Agriculture until Argentine Navy relieved the crew with navy personnel on March 3, 1951. Formal transfer occurred on December 23, 1952, when by presidential decree the base was put under the Service of Maritime Hydrography as Destacamento Naval Orcadas.

Climate measurement[edit]

Under the Köppen climate classification system, the station is located under a tundra climate, very close to an ice cap climate.

Annual mean temperatures measured at Orcadas Base, 1901–2007

Meteorological records

  • Maximum temperature: +15.2 °C (59.4 °F)
  • Minimum temperature: −44.0 °C (−47.2 °F)
  • Average humidity: 86%
  • Average wind speed: 4,6 m/s
  • Average atmospheric pressure: 992 hPa

Average temperatures

  • Hottest month (February): 1.3 °C (34.3 °F)
  • Coldest month (July): −8.9 °C (16.0 °F)
  • Annual: −4.2 °C (24.4 °F)

Average rainfall

  • Month with the most precipitations (March): 59.4 millimetres (2.34 in)
  • Month with the least precipitations (December): 33.8 millimetres (1.33 in)
  • Average annual rainfall: 485.8 millimetres (19.13 in)
  • Days with snowfalls per year: 227
Climate data for Orcadas Base
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 12.2
(54)
9.0
(48.2)
10.8
(51.4)
7.6
(45.7)
9.2
(48.6)
6.8
(44.2)
7.8
(46)
8.2
(46.8)
6.8
(44.2)
9.3
(48.7)
8.8
(47.8)
15.2
(59.4)
15.2
(59.4)
Average high °C (°F) 2.7
(36.9)
3.2
(37.8)
2.3
(36.1)
0.1
(32.2)
−1.8
(28.8)
−4.1
(24.6)
−4.9
(23.2)
−4.1
(24.6)
−1.9
(28.6)
−0.4
(31.3)
1.9
(35.4)
2.7
(36.9)
−0.4
(31.3)
Daily mean °C (°F) 1.0
(33.8)
1.3
(34.3)
0.6
(33.1)
−2.1
(28.2)
−4.4
(24.1)
−7.6
(18.3)
−8.9
(16)
−7.7
(18.1)
−5.2
(22.6)
−3.5
(25.7)
−0.9
(30.4)
0.4
(32.7)
−3.1
(26.4)
Average low °C (°F) −0.5
(31.1)
−0.3
(31.5)
−1.1
(30)
−4.4
(24.1)
−7.0
(19.4)
−11.5
(11.3)
−13.0
(8.6)
−11.7
(10.9)
−8.8
(16.2)
−6.4
(20.5)
−2.9
(26.8)
−1.1
(30)
−5.7
(21.7)
Record low °C (°F) −7.0
(19.4)
−9.8
(14.4)
−15.1
(4.8)
−31.5
(−24.7)
−31.9
(−25.4)
−39.8
(−39.6)
−36.9
(−34.4)
−44.0
(−47.2)
−32.6
(−26.7)
−31.2
(−24.2)
−20.4
(−4.7)
−13.2
(8.2)
−44.0
(−47.2)
Precipitation mm (inches) 43.9
(1.728)
73.5
(2.894)
73.0
(2.874)
73.4
(2.89)
62.6
(2.465)
52.1
(2.051)
44.8
(1.764)
51.6
(2.031)
48.0
(1.89)
48.2
(1.898)
44.7
(1.76)
46.4
(1.827)
662.8
(26.094)
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.3 mm) 14.2 14.5 16.4 17.4 16.0 14.8 15.2 16.0 14.9 15.3 15.3 12.8 182.6
Avg. snowy days 16 14 15 19 20 19 19 20 21 21 22 21 227
Mean monthly sunshine hours 47.6 38.3 34.0 25.2 16.9 9.7 18.3 44.1 65.8 69.1 54.8 62.7 483.0
Percent possible sunshine 9.3 9.8 9.9 10.1 10.8 15.2 13.2 22.5 21.8 17.6 11.2 12.0 13.5
Source #1: Servicio Meteorologico Nacional[3]
Source #2: NOAA (sunshine and extremes)[4][5]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Escude, Carlos; Cisneros, Andres. "Historia General de las Relaciones Exteriores de la Republica Argentina" (in Spanish). Retrieved July 6, 2012. 
  2. ^ Moneta, Jose Manuel (1954). Cuatro Años en las Orcadas del Sur (9th ed.). Ediciones Peuser. 
  3. ^ "Datos Estadísticos (Período 1981-1990)". Servicio Meteorológico Nacional. Retrieved October 31, 2012. 
  4. ^ "BASE ORCADAS Climate Normals 1961-1990". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved February 19, 2014. 
  5. ^ "Datos climatológicos y geomagnéticos Islas Orcadas del Sur". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved March 14, 2014. 

External links[edit]