The Erven Nunataks in Antarctica: A Little Geography, Meteorology, and History of the South Pole
Nunataks in Antarctica
Digging Out Byrd Station from the Inside Each Morning
Life is moving right along...
…and then recently I found out my uncle Ray is “famous”: part of the planet is actually named after him.
My mother got a call from him awhile back saying that he’d just Googled his own name and found that part of Antarctica, not far from the South Pole, is actually named after him and has been for decades, completely unbeknownst to him. Uncle Ray was pleasantly surprised that his scientific work done in 1964 as the meteorologist at the South Pole weather station, as part of the United States Geographical Survey, had been recognized in this way. Apparently when they were handing out names to the geological features on the map, they looked at the people who had lived and worked and researched and risked their lives to do so in Antarctica.
The news of this “new discovery” spread like wildfire among Uncle Ray’s friends and relatives, and there was a front-page article about it in his home-town paper titled "A Cool Honor".
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Live satellite video of Antarctica when it isn't dark and there is no eclipse.
Ray Erven, Meteorologist at Byrd Station in 1964
Ray Erven Today
So, what's a nunatak?
Good question—we had to look it up, too.
Merriam-Webster (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/nunatak) had this to say on 5/12/2012:
Definition of NUNATAK: a hill or mountain completely surrounded by glacial ice
Origin of NUNATAK: Inuit (Greenland) nunataq”
Therefore, the Erven Nunataks are a small grouping of these rock outcroppings surrounded in the sea of a glacier. To our knowledge (including his own), Ray Erven never saw the Erven Nunataks that are named after him; he was simply chosen for that honor by working at the south pole as a meteorologist near the beginning of his career in 1964.
A Can't-Miss Video Showing a Glimpse of Antarctica "Condition 1" Weather
Operation Deep Freeze and Byrd Station, Antarctica
Ray Erven was part of Operation Deep Freeze, and he and up to 100 others lived in a giant underground, plowed-out cave in the ice known as Byrd Station (NBY) at 80° S, 119° W: all of them members of the United States Antarctic Research Program.
“Marie Byrd Land hosted the Operation Deep Freeze base Byrd Station (NBY; originally at 80°S, 120°W, rebuilt at 80°S, 119°W), beginning in 1957, in the hinterland of Bakutis Coast.”, according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marie_Byrd_Land as retrieved 3/25/2012.
Putting Antarctica into PerspectiveClick thumbnail to view full-size
Full Data About the Erven Nunataks
Small nunatak group 7.5 mi NE of Putzke Peak in the McCuddin Mountains of Marie Byrd Land. Mapped by U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) from surveys and U.S. Navy air photos, 1959-65. Named by Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names (US-ACAN) for Raymond D. Erven, U.S. Antarctic Research Program (USARP) meteorologist at Byrd Station, 1964.
Did you know what "nunatak" meant before reading this article?
For more information:
More information is available at http://antarcticsun.usap.gov/.
Also, check out their latest news and headlines at the Antarctic Sun: http://antarcticsun.usap.gov/aboutTheSun/ .
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All text, photos, videos, and graphics in this document are Copyright © 2013 Laura D. Schneider unless indicated otherwise or unless in the public domain. All rights reserved. All trademarks and service marks are the property of their respective owners. Note: This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Geological Survey document "Erven Nunataks" (content from the Geographic Names Information System).