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Alex Gaffikin - solar guides


Alex Gaffikin


Image of Alex Gaffikin with collegues in AntarcticaWhere do you work?

I work at the Natural History Museum. I used to work for the British Antarctic Survey, in Cambridge, ( I trained to be a science communicator, that is to share my excitement in science with others. I am a really lucky person. When I tell people that I've been down to the Antarctic, they think I'm crazy! But honestly, the Antarctic is a fantastic place and I loved working there.


Image of the ozone layer surrounding the Earth


Why did you go to the Antarctic?

I worked as a meteorologist, so my job was to record the weather, measure the ozone and monitor pollution.

The ozone layer in the Earth's atmosphere is depleted over the Antarctic. This is thought to be caused by human activity, in particular the release of harmful CFC gases.


What else did you do in the Antarctic?

But that wasn't all I did. Oh no! I also got to drive the snowcat around, use the radios to talk to our nearest neighbours and to practise first aid. Sometimes we got a bit of a holiday - my favourite place was the Emporer penguin colony. In spring when the Sun rose for the first time in three months, we would visit the penguins and see the new-born chicks, tiny bundles of grey fur.


Image of some penguins in AntarcticaWhat is the Antarctic like?

Sometimes the Antarctic can be a scary place to live - there are huge cracks (crevasses) in the ice, it's dark for three months of the year and the temperature can drop to -50 degrees Celsius. But it's also the most phenomenal place, there are zillions of penguins and seals, and of course, the southern lights (aurora australis) which zig-zag green and pink across the sky.


Image of an aurora in the sky over Halley Base, AntarcticaHere is an aurora in the sky over Halley Base.


Would you go back again?

I enjoyed it so much there that I want to go back again and again and I wish I could take you with me!


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