It’s not quite as intense as the rebels abandoning the ice planet Hoth in the Star Wars movie, The Empire Strikes Back, but it’s still pretty dramatic.
The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) recently abandoned a vital research station on the Brunt ice shelf in Antarctica out of concern that two massive cracks might imperil workers there and force an evacuation in the dead of Antarctic winter.
The Halley VI research station is well-known among climate scientists as the place from which the disappearing ozone hole was detected back in 1985. Since then, it has continued doing research on the changing climate and polar science.
But back in October 2014, a large crack in the Brunt ice shelf raised concerns about the safety of the station, which is located on the ice shelf. The BAS decided to relocate the station about 14 miles north.
Fortunately, Halley VI was built to be moved. An impressive piece of engineering, the station consists of 8 hippopotamus-shaped pods that can be disconnected and pulled by a team of tractors over the ice. They are then reconnected in a new spot.
The relocation, which took 13 weeks and was completed in early February, was a success. The video above has impressive scenes of the relocation filmed by drone.
The team of 88 scientists and researchers there were going to work in the new location through the Antarctic winter, but a second crack appeared that raised serious concerns about the stability of the shelf. That prompted BAS leadership to pull out all personnel through the Antarctic winter (the northern hemisphere’s summer), the first time in the station’s history that it has ever been abandoned. The BAS says it will likely send people back in November, assuming, of course, that the ice shelf is still there.