Last Sunset for six months in Antarctica

For researchers at NOAA’s South Pole Atmospheric Baseline Observatory, Sunday March 20 marks the start of the austral autumn, the last time they see the sun for six months.

In the Northern Hemisphere, the spring equinox promises warmer days.

In the observatory, that is part of the U.S. Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, in winter, it’s so cold aircraft can’t fly and scientists are marooned until late October.

“It’s the coldest, driest, flattest place you can imagine,” said NOAA Corps LT Jesse Milton.

The Atmospheric Research Observatory, the third-generation “clean air” facility located at the South Pole, maintains the longest atmospheric carbon dioxide

[greenhouse gas] record on earth, besting the more-famous Mauna Loa carbon dioxide record by one year. Continuous long-term atmospheric records show how factories, households and cars thousands of miles away are changing the chemistry and composition of “cleanest air on earth.” Ozone measurements have been instrumental for researchers studying the annual South Pole “Ozone Hole”offsite link.

Watch the long night settle over the South Pole on NOAA/ESRL’s live web camera.

source NOAA