Live Earth: Scientists rock AntarcticaWeb Extra
Thursday, July 5, 2007
Live Earth: Scientists rock Antarctica
Images courtesy of British Antarctic Survey
British Antarctic researchers-cum-rockstars will
perform Saturday, July 7, in Antarctica as part of the Live Earth concert
series. The band practices, from top left clockwise: Matt Balmer and Roger
Stilwell; Ali Massey; Tris Thorne; the entire band (called Nunatak); and
On Saturday, concerts to "combat our climate crisis"
will occur on all seven continents, according to Live Earth,
part of a campaign led by the Alliance for Climate Protection, chaired by former
U.S. Vice President Al Gore. Concerts will be held in London, England; Tokyo,
Japan; Shanghai, China; Johannesburg, South Africa; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil;
Sydney, Australia; Hamburg, Germany; at Giants Stadium just outside of New York
City; and Antarctica yes, Antarctica. Although the major cities will
headline famous acts such as Snoop Dogg, Enrique Iglesias, Bon Jovi and Dave
Matthews Band, perhaps the "coolest" concert will be in Antarctica,
performed by a five-person band of Antarctic scientists.
While rockstars will perform in giant arenas filled with screaming crowds in
the 24-hour Live Earth concert series, which kicks off in Sydney, the band of
researchers will perform in front of their 17 colleagues at the British
Antarctic Survey's (BAS) Rothera Research Station. People around the world
can watch the Antarctic concert, however, via television and Internet broadcasts.
The band, called Nunatak a Greenlandic word meaning an exposed summit
of a ridge mountain or peak not covered with snow within an ice field or glacier
includes Matt Balmer, a 22-year-old electronics engineer who is the lead
singer and songwriter; Tris Thorne, a 28-year-old communications engineer who
manages the station's satellite technologies and ensures that the research station
stays connected with the outside world, and also plays the fiddle and lead guitar;
Ali Massey, a 28-year-old marine biologist who routinely ice dives, and plays
the saxophone; Rob Webster, a 24-year-old meteorologist and drummer; and Roger
Stilwell, a 24-year-old polar guide and bass guitarist. The indie rock band,
who lists their influences from The Verge to Shakira to Metallica, was asked
by Gore to play to ensure the concert series encompasses all seven continents.
The Live Earth team apparently toyed with the idea of flying big-name acts into
Antarctica, but winter on the continent prohibits travel (beyond research) into
or out of the continent, according to BAS.
Nunatak's global debut performance will be outside of the Rothera Research Station
on the ice, in temperatures about negative 10 degrees Celsius (14 degrees Fahrenheit).
"I can't believe we've been invited to do this it's a fantastic
opportunity to encourage people of the world to deal with climate change,"
Balmer said in a statement from Antarctica. "We expected to spend our Antarctic
winter here at Rothera quietly getting on with our work and maybe performing
at the occasional Saturday night party. We could never have imagined taking
part in a global concert," he said. The researchers spend the majority
of their time in Antarctica researching the effects of climate change and exploring
evolutionary biology on the Antarctic Peninsula.