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Antarctica Once...and Future

On November 1, 1911, Robert F. Scott and a crew of four set out for the South Pole from Antarctica’s Ross Island. They never returned. Though the men died of starvation on the journey back, the crude wooden hut they used as their Ross Island base survived as a time capsule of the ill-fated mission. Inside are Bunsen burners, tins of cabbage and veal, boxes of Colman’s flour, frying pans, a London newspaper, and—laid out on a table—a preserved penguin. The blankets lie rumpled on the beds as though the occupants might return any minute. But now the hut itself needs rescuing: Over the past few years global warming has resulted in unprecedented levels of snow and ice, some 100 tons of which has piled up and threatens the cabin’s structure. The World Monuments Fund even put the building on its 2008 list of the 100 most endangered sites. A team has begun clearing ice from under the flooring, and protective waterproof material has been layered beneath the original exterior. If all goes well, the structure will be repaired in five years, just after its centennial. For more information, go to wmf.org.

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