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Halley's meteorologists (L-R): Dan Carson, Alex Gaffikin and Gary Wilson standing in front of the Dobson spectrophotometer, which detected the hole in the ozone layer and is still used to monitor the ozone

Alex Gaffikin writes:

"My name is Alexandra Gaffikin and I am part of the Meteorological team here at Halley. This year there are three of us; Dan Carson, Gary Wilson and Myself. Gary and I are both starting our second year and Dan has just joined us. I would like to tell you a bit about our life and work and also a little bit about our history!

“Met” has been carried out at Halley base since 1956. I have a copy of the original report from 1956 by “The advance party of the Royal Society’s Antarctic Expedition”. After the ship was unloaded and the initial building period was over the first Met team were keen to start weather observations and they have been carried out ever since. On the 9th of July they carried out the first balloon launch - also a regular feature of our work today. In 1957 the Royal Society handed Halley over to the Falkland Island Dependency Survey, which later became the British Antarctic Survey. Another major undertaking has been the almost continuous measurement of the ozone levels over Halley. It was from measurements taken at Halley that the ozone hole was first discovered. We have also had our fair share of disasters - in August of 1981 the balloon shed burnt down!

As well as this routine work we have many more projects and experiments to run. We take many air and snow samples for analysis back in the UK. The air samplers filter out pollution from the air. One of the more fun things we have to do is fly kites through the lower atmosphere when we experience strong temperature or wind gradients or katabatics!

The weather plays a significant part in our lives at Halley. During the summer the planes need constant weather observations from us, the ships want sea ice observations,  the Base Commander wants to know if a gale is coming so he can plan the base work and we maintain a computer on the main accommodation platform so that people can guess what clothing they need to put on before they go outside! All in all its pretty hectic.

Our talents and experience include electronics, physics and carpentry - and all are put to good use in this job! Gary is a keen observer of strange Met phenomena - he particularly loves spotting unusual or strong mirages. Dan appears to be impervious to the cold and has already done lots of demanding outside work. I love the excitement of working in such an extreme environment. I love the clear blue skies, the gales and storms, the temperatures that plummet to -40, I love the way that our lives are so dependent on the weather with no time for complacency."
 
 
 
Gary Wilson, about to launch a helium balloon.  This rises up to 25 km in the atmosphere and carries a meteorological instrument called a sonde, which measures weather parameters such as wind speed and temperature.