Ice-olation: perspective(s)

Since ‘stay-at-home’ has been established, I’ve reflected on its relation to deep field work in Antarctica – mainly because my current feelings feel strangely familiar…

Many recent news stories provide isolation ‘guides or how-tos’ from an Antarctic perspective. While useful for some, I do not have the authority or experience level to properly advise others on this topic…so I’m simply here to share my perspective 🙂

After discussing the concept with a few other Antarcticans, I realised that I had captured some of my mindset in the moment during my nightly video diary! As it turns out, since 2009 I’ve been recording a nightly recap of my day from my icy bubble (my tent). Topics are wide ranging: Uncertainty, hygiene, books/movies consumed, team successes and failures, meaningful chats both from afar and with my co-habitants, frustrations with being stuck in place.

After re-watching my video diary, I quickly realised two things: I hate the sound of my voice and I was extra-mindful of ‘normal life’ aspects of Antarctic life. I was sometime tired (of doing dishes), we didn’t go anywhere today, I read a book. I spent very little time on the more memorable moments: a great day in the field, successful implementation of a plan, a call home to Katelyn to wish her a happy birthday.

Of course, I chose to go to the ice and without a doubt, I’ve been life-changing fortunate enough to participate in a wide range of field work across the continent. As it turns out, heaps of other folks have a similar experience and a few of us got together to have a chat.

Linking up with the New Zealand Antarctic Society (, we launched a webinar series to engage with our membership and the public. So I stuck my hand up, thinking I had a story to tell. What ensued was an incredible effort to a) learn how to technically launch a webinar (my wheelhouse = rocks) and b) to assemble a team of experienced Antarcticans to provide a wider perspective on the topic.

While we had our challenges, the end result (below) was pretty cool. I provided a ~20 minute overview of the ‘Deep Field’ and then we had a team chat. The conversation was driven by public questions and gave us a chance to dig into our memories for a response. The following video captures the webinar as it happened. We hope to have you join us on our next live webinar where we’ll be discussing the importance of the Antarctic Treaty…a very appropriate topic in this strange time!

Please share your deep field experience and how/if it relates to the current ‘stay-at-home, save lives’ lifestyle we’ve been thrust into. Deep field can be anything, really: your backyard, a backpacking trip, a sea voyage, your current bubble…anything that captures your awareness of your isolation on this big blue ball (or space if you are an astronaut).

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