Arrival Heights Laboratory

Arrival Heights is around 2 km from McMurdo and it is an Antarctic Specially Protected Area as its height and horizon make it ideal as an area with minimal electromagnetic interference to do atmospheric studies.

There are no lights up at Arrival Heights. If driving up at night you must have your lights turned off, and use moonlight. If at night you need to go from one building to another, there is rope joining them up so you can navigate in the dark.


NZ has an atmospheric research laboratory as Arrival Heights. It was built in 2007, but a previous one was there from 1959.



Most of the experiments and monitoring being done there are for NIWA, and include the upper atmosphere, trace gas monitoring, geomagnetic studies and air quality surveys.


This is the oldest running monitoring experiment. It has been going since the 1980s. You may note the computer is running DOS and the PC has a floppy disk drive!


The roof of the labatory has multiple egresses to allow monitoring.


This equipment was made in 1937 but still performs its function well – to monitor the ozone layer.

In case people wonder the value of such science, well it was the discovery of the hold in the ozone layer around that led to the Montreal Protocol which phased out production of many substances that deplete the ozone layer. As a result the hole in the layer around is recovering and it is projected to be back to “normal” by around 2050. The Montreal Protocol has been called the most single most successful international agreement to date.

A 2015 report by the U. S. EPA estimated that the protection of the ozone layer under the Montreal Protocol will prevent over 280 million cases of skin cancer and 1.5 million skin cancer deaths.

Many of the experiments are automated and need no human interaction. But some of them, including this one, require a technician to make selections and operate the equipment. Antarctica NZ has two technicians who operate the gear at Arrival Heights, year round.

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