South Africa was one of the original signatory countries to sign the Antarctic Treaty. The Antarctic Treaty and related agreements, collectively known as the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS) regulate international relations with respect to Antarctica, earth’s only continent without a native human population. The treaty sets aside Antarctica as a scientific preserve and establishes freedom of scientific investigations.
Antarctica – a brief summary: Antarctica is about 4 800 km from Cape Town and travelling time, weather permitting, is between 12 – 15 days. On the way to Antarctica, the “Roaring Fourties” is crossed which is regarded as the roughest seas on the planet. South Africa was one of the original signatory countries to sign the Antarctic Treaty. The Antarctic Treaty and related agreements, collectively known as the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS) regulate international relations with respect to Antarctica, earth’s only continent without a native human population. The treaty sets aside Antarctica as a scientific preserve and establishes freedom of scientific investigations.
Nolitha (Pty) Ltd was awarded the contract for the refurbishment of the Antarctica Sanae IV Base and has sent staff on the SA Agulhas II as part of the team travelling to the Antarctica research station. The newly built research ship, dedicated to the memory of Mama Africa Miriam Makeba, sailed for the Southern continent on 3 December 2015. As part of maintaining infrastructure built by the Department on the Antarctic base, every December, the Department takes part in the South African National Antarctic Expedition (SANAE) as part of a group of scientists who go to the Southern ocean islands. The SANAE IV consists of physical scientists, earth scientists , oceanographers, life scientists and support staff. Some of the work that will be undertaken during this season is the installation of a safety net on the cliff edge, underfloor heating and moving of inner walls in preparation of refurbishment work scheduled for the next season’s trip as well as some external paintwork and general maintenance work.
The various kinds of research and its importance on the international platform done at the base were discussed. Nolitha (Pty) Ltd is also constructing, maintaining and refurbishing infrastructure for the team who solely depend on the facilities during the long, dark and very cold winters experienced at the base as well as the long, light and still very cold summers. The maintenance includes repairs and renovations of various including sanitation facilities, painting, and plumbing, maintaining electrical and upgrading technical engineering systems. The SANAE IV base is divided into four components: Physical sciences, life sciences, earth sciences and oceanographic sciences. The new base is located at Veslekarvet, 220 Km due south of SANAE III.
Veslekarvet is a nunatak that is a rocky outcrop peeping out of a snowy surface. In sharp contrast to the white surroundings, its colour is normally black or dark brown. In some cases it is able to support some sort of life such as mosses, algae, a few insects and birds. Coincidentally, the departure of the Expedition Team of the SA Agulhas II happened during the Climate Change Summit that was being held at the COP 21 in Paris. Appropriately, our scientists would help the cause of climate change and contribute a great deal of research. Because the new SANAE IV is built on a hillside, the Nolitha (Pty) Ltd’s critical task was building a safety net to ensure the safety of the crew members.