Antarctic stations celebrate Midwinter's Day
In Antarctica, the winter solstice is the longest night of the year and marks the halfway point of winter. Since the time of the early explorers, those people who have chosen to stay and work in Antarctica during the long dark night have celebrated Midwinter’s Day.
This year, Midwinter’s Day is again on June 21. More than 200 people at the U.S. Antarctic Program’s three research stations — McMurdo, Amundsen-Scott South Pole, and Palmer — will sit down to special dinners and hold various celebrations to mark the midpoint of their winter isolation.
For more than 50 years this tradition has been recognized by the President of the United States. The first Presidential Message was sent by Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1959. In this year’s message, President Obama drew attention to the importance of Antarctic research in understanding global climate systems:
“Antarctic research also guides our path forward. Earth’s environmental systems are interdependent and fragile, and your combined efforts allow us to recognize the critical role Antarctica plays in global systems as the Antarctic ice sheet responds to our changing climate, and in turn influences our oceans. This knowledge can determine necessary actions to safeguard our planet and address climate change so we can forge a more stable sustainable future for the generations that will follow us.”
He also commended them for their “dedication to science and engineering and to unlocking the power these disciplines have to explain our past and inform our future.”