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2011-12 Guidelines for NGO Visitors to the South Pole Station

Posted: Jul 27, 2011 04:33 am EDT

(Newsdesk) A significant larger crowd of people are expected at the South Pole during this 2011-12 Antarctica summer season, because of the centenary celebrations of Amundsen and Scott and their teams arrival at 90°S.

The United States, who runs the South Pole Station, has published guidelines for non-governmental visitors (skiers, car drivers, fly-in visitors, pilots) at 90° South regarding access routes, camping areas, prohibited areas, and more. Here goes:

Guidelines for NGO Visitors to South Pole Station within the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, South Pole Antarctic Specially Managed Area (ASMA) No. 5 2011-2012 Austral Summer Season

The NGO access route (Map 3) is the same route that was designated for the 2010-2011 season. However, the camping areas designated for use by non-governmental visitors to South Pole are changed for the 2011-2012 summer season. These changes are designed to accommodate the expected large number of non-governmental visitors this season while increasing the safety for both non-governmental and government activities by reducing the potential for vehicle (including aircraft) personnel interactions.

For approaches by land, once the travelers are within 150 km of the Geographic South Pole (GSP), surface travel must be between longitude lines 110° east and 20° west to avoid entry into the Clean Air Sector. When the travelers reach 20 km from the GSP, the approach must be between longitude lines 20° west and 100° west. The trail for final approach to South Pole starts at a point approximately 4 km from the GSP at position 89° 57 26S, 16° 00 00W. At this point the trail will be marked with bamboo canes and fabric flags and will lead past the Overflow NGO Camping site and to the primary NGO Camping site located at latitude 89° 59 32S on the Greenwich meridian (0° 0 0). Both camps are shown on Map 4. This approach path is required to ensure there is no interference with station operations and to avoid hazards.

While this corridor marks the boundary of the ASMAs Hazardous Zone, for which entry is prohibited, the hazards in the zone are all located in the center of the area (associated with the now-buried original South Pole Station), well away from the egress corridor. It is noted that over the next two austral summer seasons, the entire Hazardous Zone will be surveyed with ground penetrating radar and any voids or potential hazards will be mitigated. Ultimately, this area will be reclaimed as part of the Dark Sector once remediation of voids is completed.

Non-governmental aircraft visiting the South Pole area must be aware of the site characteristics and limitations as described in the Antarctic Flight Information Manual (AFIM) and the South Pole ASMA management plan. Because most of the area in the proximity of the geographic South Pole is designated as science zones, it is the National Science Foundations (NSF) preference for non-governmental aircraft to utilize the existing skiway [runway], but always on a not-to-interfere basis. As in Appendix A of the ASMA management plan, non-governmental expeditions that intend to fly aircraft into the Area or land on the skiway must obtain prior approval.

Non-governmental aircraft intended for day trips may park at the short-term NGO Aircraft parking site, near the South Pole markers, otherwise overnight aircraft shall park at the NGO Aircraft parking site adjacent to the NGO Camping site (Map 4). NSF will groom a ski-taxiway leading from the end of the skiway closest to the geographic South Pole to the site of the new NGO Camping and day site. All movements by non-governmental aircraft must be coordinated with the communications center at Amundsen-Scott Station. Upon request, Station Communications (COMMS) will provide non-governmental aircrews the most recent weather observations (wind direction and speed, air temperature), altimeter reading and Terminal Area Forecast (TAF). Awareness of other aircraft in the area, and flight following/ATC provision must be coordinated through MacCenter as indicated in the AFIM.

The terrain between the overnight camp sites and the day visit site (all within the Operations Sector), is currently, and for the foreseeable future, free of government structures and activities. Non-governmental visitors may move freely along this avenue. However, they may not encroach on government structures and activities in the Operations Sector. Non-governmental visitors may not, for any reason, enter the Clean Air Sector (CAS) and may only be present in the Dark Sector when traveling along the designated NGO access route (Map 4).

The current non-governmental cache is now located near the primary NGO Camping site.

As noted in Appendix A of the ASMA management plan, all South Pole Station buildings and operation and science areas are off limits to non-governmental personnel except when guided by an individual designated by the USAP. Due to the impact to the USAPs science and operations resulting from an increase in number of visits and visitors in recent years, limits will be placed on visits.

Appendix A: Additional Guidelines for Non-Governmental Organizations at the South Pole

Guidelines for tourist activities have been established to improve coordination between the National Program(s) operating in the Area and non-governmental visitors to South Pole Station. Each austral summer, the South Pole Station receives a number of visitors associated with private expeditions and other non-governmental Organizations (NGOs). These visitors are most frequently associated with private companies that provide transportation, guides, and logistical support. The purpose of this Appendix is to inform such visitors about on-site resources, expectations, and hazards. In addition to these procedures, every person at the South Pole is expected to comply with the Antarctic Treaty and policies governing their respective National Program(s).

- The U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP) operates Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. The USAP is not authorized to provide support for non-governmental activities except in an emergency situation.

- For approaches by land: once within 150 kilometers (km) of the geographic South Pole (GSP), surface travel must be between longitude lines 110° east and 20° west so as to avoid entry into the Clean Air Sector; when reaching 20 km from the GSP, approach must be between longitude lines 20° west and 100° west. The trail for final approach to South Pole starts at a point approximately 4 km from the GSP at position 89° 57 26S, 16° 00 00W. At this point the trail will be marked with bamboo canes and fabric flags and will lead passed the overflow campsite to the Primary NGO campsite located at latitude 89° 59 32S on the Greenwich meridian (0° 0 0). Both campsites are shown on Map 4. This approach path is required to ensure there is no interference with station operations and to avoid hazards.

- Non-governmental expeditions that intend to fly aircraft into the Area or land on the ski-way must obtain prior approval to do so from the National Program(s) that maintain the ski-way and associated air traffic control equipment. If prior approval is granted, non-governmental pilots should refer to and follow guidance in the Antarctic Flight Information Manual (AFIM) and information provided by the National Program(s) operating in the Area. Non-governmental expeditions may not conduct a parachute operation from an aircraft and no pilot in command of an aircraft may allow a parachute operation to be conducted from that aircraft over or near the ski-way or other infrastructure in the Area.

- No access to email, telephones, or radios will be provided except as authorized by the appropriate National Program.

- Visitors shall coordinate with Station Communications (COMMS) to pre-arrange a time to visit the station. At the pre-arranged time, visitors will arrive at the skiway-side [runway-side] entrance and wait for an escort. Once inside the station, visitors will be required to remain with their official station escort.

- When non-governmental visitors are required to spend the night in the Area, they must use their own provisions for food and camping. Non-governmental visitors are required to remove all of their waste when they leave.

- Except for emergency situations, unescorted guests are expected to stay within the designated camping area, the NGO parking area, or the area immediately surrounding the Pole markers.

- To avoid disruption of official USAP activities, all South Pole Station buildings and operation and science areas are off limits to non-governmental personnel except when guided by an individual designated by the USAP.

- In the event of an aircraft or medical emergency in the Area, non-governmental expeditions shall notify COMMS immediately by any means possible. COMMS staff will notify the on-site National Science Foundation (NSF) Representative and other personnel as necessary.

- South Pole Communications personnel will record non-governmental arrivals and departures; this information may be made available to Antarctic Treaty Party members upon request.

Maps Geographical Framework Notes:
Ice and facilities at the South Pole move at a rate of approximately 10 meter per year. Therefore the Local; Grid is used to define ASMA Zone and Sector boundaries. Local grid bearings remain consistent relative to facilities at the Pole. Zone and Sector boundaries move with the Local Grid. Local Grid North aligns with the Greenwich meridian (0°). The offset of the Local Grid from the true geographical grid changes over time.


South Pole site plan lay out 2007
2009-10 South Pole Aerial photos (February 2010)
2009-10 South Pole Aerial photos (February 2010) Dark Sector
2009-10 South Pole Aerial photos (February 2010) behind the station
Photo library USAP

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"All South Pole Station buildings and operation and science areas are off limits to non-governmental personnel except when guided by an individual designated by the USAP." In the image, the main SP building at the Geographic and Ceremonial South Poles.
Image by Ricky Gates courtesy National Science Foundation
Map 1: the original from 2007; about a 175 km radius around the South Pole Station. "For approaches by land, once the travelers are within 150 km of the Geographic South Pole (GSP), surface travel must be between longitude lines 110° east and 20° west to avoid entry into the Clean Air Sector."
Image by United States Antarctic Program (USAP), SOURCE
Map 2: revised in 2010; a 20 km radius. "When the travelers reach 20 km from the GSP, the approach must be between longitude lines 20° west and 100° west."
Image by United States Antarctic Program (USAP), SOURCE
Map 3: revised in 2011; a 5 km radius. "Non-governmental visitors may not, for any reason, enter the Clean Air Sector (CAS) and may only be present in the Dark Sector when traveling along the designated NGO access route (Map 4)."
Image by United States Antarctic Program (USAP), SOURCE
Map 4: revised in 2011; a close-up site plan. "The trail for final approach to South Pole starts at a point approximately 4 km from the GSP at position 89° 57 26S, 16° 00 00W. At this point the trail will be marked with bamboo canes and fabric flags and will lead past the Overflow NGO Camping site and to the primary NGO Camping site located at latitude 89° 59 32S on the Greenwich meridian (0° 0 0)."
Image by United States Antarctic Program (USAP), SOURCE
Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. The buildings in the lower right are telescopes in the Dark Sector, an area devoid of light and radio wave interference. The building to the far left is the Atmospheric Research Observatory, located in the Clean Air Sector, an area upwind from the station. Most of the objects behind the main station are pallets of construction cargo.
Image by Scot Jackson courtesy National Science Foundation
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