The first station at Halley was established by the Royal Society in 1956 and was used to conduct research into meteorology, glaciology, seismology, radio astronomy, and geospace science for the International Geophysical Year (IGY). After the IGY ended the station was handed over to the British Antarctic Survey who have maintained an permanent presence ever since, while continuing to conduct many of the original studies uninterrupted.
These continuous measurements provide an extremely valuable record of atmospheric composition and weather patterns over the last 50 years, which can be used as a baseline to help understand the impact of human pollution on the planet. For example, long term measurements of stratospheric ozone from Halley allowed BAS scientists to the discover the hole in the ozone layer, which lead to the signing of the Montreal Protocol banning the use of CFCs.
|Measuring Stratospheric Ozone using the Dobson Spectrophotometer.
The extremely low levels of atmospheric pollution at Halley also make it possible to study the interaction of molecules between the air and the snow in unprecedented detail. These interactions can be used to help interpret the global temperature history data provided by ice cores retrieved from other sites.
The low levels of electromagnetic and optical noise permit sensitive measurements of Very Low Frequency radio waves, airglow and atmospheric radio absorption, providing a window into the far reaches of the Earth’s atmosphere. Its location within the auroral zone makes it an exceptional site for studying the Earth’s magnetic field, upper atmosphere and geospace.
|Aurora behind the VLF Antenna during the winter. Photo by Jeff Cohen.