An Email from the frozen world
The other day we received an email from Alicia. She had just read "Dragon Rider". That may not sound like a big deal so far. But Alicia hadn't read the book just anywhere. She had read it in a 20 foot container, at 70 degrees, 40.8 minutes South Latitude and 08 degrees, 16.2 minutes West Longitude.
An address in the middle of nowhere.
It belongs to a very special building on the Ekström Ice Shelf in Atka Bay in the northeastern Weddell Sea. It is home to Germany's southernmost library, the southernmost in the world in fact, 100 metres from Neumayer Station III, a German research facility in Antarctica.
The Neumayer Station consists of a total of 100 containers with living quarters, kitchen, mess hall and hospital, as well as various laboratories, a radio room, sanitary facilities, an energy centre and a snow melting facility. Like astronauts on a space station, nine people live and work there in the Antarctic winter: an air chemist, a meteorologist, an electrical engineer, an operations engineer, a computer scientist and radio operator, two geophysicists, a doctor, and a cook. Among other things, they research the climate, the earth's magnetic field and the sounds of the sea.
Alicia is one of the two geophysicists. In March 2022, she and her colleagues moved to the end of the world for over a year. Alicia's email had travelled almost 14000 kilometres before it landed in Cornelia's inbox:
Hello Cornelia, after discovering your book "Dragon Rider" in the Library in the Ice at Neumayer Station in Antarctica, I wanted to get in touch with you. I am currently wintering at Neumayer Station and it was a great pleasure to discover your book among the other novels, poetry books, and biographies, as it reminded me of the many hours I spent reading during my childhood. Especially when there's a bit of a storm, the library container is particularly cosy;-Unfortunately, you'll have to tell Professor Barnabas that we haven't discovered the silver penguin yet... But in the spring (or Antarctic autumn), the penguins here were moulting and had fabulous hairstyles. There are indeed whistling seals here, and our instruments "eavesdrop" on their underwater conversations. Greetings from the south and thank you for the magical hours, Alicia.
Over the past decades, fan mail has come from everywhere: from Australia, Japan, the USA, Great Britain, Indonesia, Russia, Finland, and, and, and... But no one had ever written from Antarctica. How does it feel to live there for so long? What is it like at the research station and in the library? Do you have cold feet all the time? Is everything white in Antarctica? But dark all the time in winter? Would Alicia tell us a little bit about it? That would certainly be as exciting as if Lung were reporting directly from the threshold of heaven.
Let's talk on the phone. We all have a phone in the room. Then we can arrange for an interview.
An interview with a researcher in Antarctica. What an adventure.
HERE we take you to Alicia, at Neumayer Station III.
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