When I imagine life as a scientist doing research in Antarctica, I see images of frostbitten noses, two-man tents, and notes carefully handwritten in college-ruled notebooks. After reading about the Princess Elisabeth Station, a research facility opened in February of this year that will focus on studying ice samples for clues to solve climate change, my ideas about life as a scientist in the Antarctic tundra are forever changed.
I'm smart enough to know that the technology driving scientific research has developed at mind-numbing speeds, making notepads and journals a distant memory. I've been fortunate enough to witness the work of these scientific minds first-hand, and I know that the need for climate research is greater now than perhaps ever.
What surprises me about Princess Elisabeth Station isn't the technology being used for scientific research: what's surprising to me is the technology being used in the everyday lives of the scientists who are living there.
If you were to walk into the Princess Elisabeth Station, you wouldn't find a group of geeks in winter parkas, shuddering together in a corner of a metal shack with a dirt floor. On the contrary, you'd find a high-tech living facility that has all of the home appliances that make life easier for those of us living in warmer climates, including six washing machines, six tumble dryers, 'A+' refrigerators, frost-free chest freezers, double oven cookers, cooker hoods, microwaves and an 'AAA' dishwasher (Appliancist).
The benefactor providing these creature comforts is Electrolux, a company that has spent the last several years driving initiatives to educate consumers about conserving energy. Due to its continued focus on designing energy efficient home appliances, Electrolux was approached to design the set of appliances for the station. Some of the appliances are even specifically designed for the scientists: the washing machines have larger doors to fit "bulky polar outdoor gear" and the freezers can freeze food for up to a year at -18 degrees Celsius.
The appliances are also run entirely on renewable energy: 90 percent of the energy is supplied to the station via wind turbines, and the rest is supplied by solar panels. Preheated water is used in the washing machines to save energy and elaborate waste and water management systems are used as well, contributing to the astonishing 95 percent of waste that the facility is able to recycle.
The Princess Elisabeth Station will focus on researching global warming and climate change, as well as CO2 emissions. On keeping the series of appliances in line with the principles driving the research, Station Manager Johan Berte remarks, "We want to show the world that if you can build a zero emissions facility in the forbidding climate of Antarctica, you can build them anywhere!"