On Special Assignment

Feb 20, 2013 12:27 PM by Suzanne Philippus - MTN News

Montana scientists study ozone layer in Antarctica

BOZEMAN - A handful of Montana residents spend the winter in one of the loneliest places on earth, the South Pole.

Only about 50 people spend the winter there, but right now, during our winter, it's summer at the bottom of the world, and MTN reporter Suzanne Phillipus is just back from a visit.

Few people get to actually make it to the South Pole, and if you do get there, you must dress for the occasion by donning 45 pounds of clothes.

Pulling on one door handle, you would think you'd be walking into a deep freezer. But the door is actually designed to keep the cold air outside, and the warmth inside at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station.

The facility is the nerve center for many critical, scientific experiments.

"You can see where we've got the ozone depletion periods, so it actually drops out right there," NOAA Specialist Bliss said."

Studying the ozone layer is just one of the many experiments being conducted here. Scientists also use powerful telescopes to study the galaxy seeking deeper understanding of our universe.

"Intakes out on the roof where we're pulling air in and this is always measuring CO2," Bliss explained.

Observing and measuring the atmosphere and outer space from the bottom of the Earth may seem strange, however, it's the transparent, very cold, and cleanest air on earth, that is required for sensitive equipment to run constantly.

Our reporter's visit to the South Pole was paid for by the National Science Foundation and the Greater Montana Foundation.

A final interesting note: There are actually three South Pole designations, each a few feet a part: the ceremonial South Pole; the geographic South Pole which is remeasured every year; and the magnetic South Pole.

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