June 21, 2011 marks the winter solstice throughout the Southern Hemisphere. In Antarctica, this day is a turning point when people begin to think about the coming summer and the end of the austral night. Throughout the continent celebrations are held as they have been since the early days of exploration, and messages of good will circulate among the stations.
Beginning with the International Geophysical Year, the President of United States has sent a special Midwinter’s Message to all of the wintering personnel at U.S. and other nation’s Antarctic stations. This year, President Obama drew attention to the challenge presented by climate change by stating,
Midwinter Greetings from Palmer Station, Antarctica
“The dangers posed by climate change threaten every nation on Earth and will determine what kind of world our children will inherit. To protect our planet, we must better understand the role of the Polar Regions in Earth’s climate system, and how polar ecosystems are responding to variations in climate and greenhouse gases. Researchers working in Antarctica are at the forefront of understanding what these changes will mean for our ecosystems and for future generations.”
In closing, President Obama commended the international wintering community for their dedication and commitment to discovery and for their ability to inspire and encourage people around the world.
This year, greetings were sent from McMurdo, Palmer, and South Pole stations. To learn more about the history of the celebration, see the article Midwinter Moment in the The Antarctic Sun.