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Q&A

The Antarctic Live Earth Concert — your questions answered

Q: What does Nunatak mean?
A: Nunatak (a Greenlandic word): An exposed summit of a ridge mountain or peak (not covered with snow) within an ice field or glacier. These stunning features occur in the most remote beautiful yet fragile and threatened environments on our planet.
Q: How did British Antarctic Survey get involved in Live Earth
A: BAS was invited by former US Vice President and Co-chair of Live Earth Mr Al Gore
Q: Who’s playing and where might we have heard their music?
A: The Rothera wintering house-band — a 5-piece combo. You won’t have heard them before unless you’ve been to Rothera. Their world debut is the Live Earth concert.
Q: Is the show going to be staged at Rothera?
A: Yes
Q: Where will they be playing? Does the research station have a concert venue?
A: They’ll be playing outside on the ice.
Q: What’s the expected turnout?
A: There are 22 people wintering at Rothera. With 5 of them in Nunatak that leaves 17 of the science team — Antarctica is now physically isolated from the rest of the world. But Nunatak will be seen by a 2 billion people around the world on TV and the internet
Q: If fans can’t get to the continent as it’s now cut off from the rest of the world how will a band and cameras get there? Do you already have musicians and cameras down there, or are you planning a special flight?
A: We have a house band wintering at Rothera. They are part of our science team and are a very good 5-person indie rock-folk fusion band (see band biographies for more info). The band’s performance will be filmed by the winter base commander.
Q: Will they also be playing online?
A: Yes on MSN.
Q: Any beer kegs or concert T-shirts on sale at the venue?
A: There will be refreshments — someone might make some t-shirts
Q: What sort of special equipment or technology has had to be shipped in for the event?
A: A new HD movie camera to shoot the performance and some new sound gear. Getting the performance back to UK will be by high speed datalink.
Q: What’s the background on the band members?
A: The five person indie-rock band is part of a science team investigating climate change and evolutional biology on the Antarctic Peninsula — a region where temperatures have risen by nearly 3°C during the last 50 years. See band biographies for more detail on individuals
Q: Is Nunatak an indie-folk fusion band?
A: Yes
Q: How many people are in the band? Names? Ages? All British?
A: Five Brits — see band biographies
Q: Are they all researchers working at the British Antarctic Survey’s Rothera Station?
A: Yes, Scientists engineers and science support staff.
Q: What’s the expected temperature and number of daylight hours on July 7?
A: Temperatures could be around minus 10 degrees C. The weather is unpredictable in winter so it could be even colder with wind chill.
Q: How many bands, total, are playing in the Live Earth concert?
A: Over 100 - see Live Earth website
Q: What are they researching?
A: Climate change and biodiversity
Q: Is the station located on the Antarctic Peninsula?
A: Yes, it’s called the British Antarctic Survey Rothera Research Station
Q: What instrument does Tristan Thorne play?
A: Fiddle, Jews harp, harmonica and accordion — for Nunatak he majors on the fiddle
Q: What instrument does Matt Balmer play?
A: Rhythm guitar and vocals. He is also the songwriter.
Q: Is it winter in Antarctica? And is it entirely dark there right now?
A: It is winter. In July on the Antarctic Peninsula it’s like twilight most of the day.
Q: What web site will host the webcast?
A: MSN
Q: How many people are at Rothera in July?
A: 22 wintering science and support staff
Q: What do they all do?
A: They are part of a science team investigating climate change and evolutional biology on the Antarctic Peninsula — a region where temperatures have risen by nearly 3°C during the last 50 years.
Q: Was Live Earth planning on flying their own plane in, or did they want to use one of yours?
A: We were asked originally if we could fly in a group or artiste to perform but this was impossible because the continent is cut off in winter. Only small research station planes can land on the 900m gravel runway — ie no commercial flights.
Q: Did they seem surprised when you told them it was impossible?
A: No — they just hadn’t thought about the remoteness and isolation during winter.
Q: Although the tourist season is over, do you have an air field that is open all year.
A: There is a 900 metre gravel runway at Rothera Research Station. In summer it is open to BAS and other national Antarctic operator light aircraft only. It cannot take commercial airline traffic.
Q: Who specifically was Live Earth in touch with, when they were trying to get the flight in?
A: The office of Mr Al Gore and the Live Earth team got in touch with the BAS Press Office and the BAS Director
Q: Whose idea was it to use the Rothera Band instead?
A:: The BAS Director and the Head of Press, PR & Education suggested the Rothera band to the Live Earth team