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Photo: Last flight from the South Pole

February 23, 2017

As winter closes in, flights to the international research compound are suspended for the long Antarctic winter.

Scientists and staff board the last scheduled flight from the South Pole for nine months. Photo taken February 15, 2017.

Late last week, scientists and staff from the National Science Foundation’s Amundsen Scott Station at the South Pole boarded a specially equipped Air National Guard C-130 for the last scheduled flight (see this video) from the South Pole for nine months.

During the Antarctic winter, it gets so cold that hydraulic lines and other mechanical systems freeze, making air travel to the South Pole hazardous.

Watching the flight taxi toward takeoff filled Dave Riebel with a sense of anticipation. He’s not leaving for a while.

“I’ve been preparing for the winter experience for over six months,” Riebel, a scientist with NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory, said. “It's what I came here for. The study of Earth's changing climate is one of the most important research efforts of our time, and I'm excited to contribute to it in a way few are able to experience. We have a really great crew here on station this winter, and I'm confident it's going to be a great season.”

Learn more about the South Pole Baseline Atmospheric Observatory.