IMAGE: BAND REHEARSES ON ANTARCTIC ICE
British Antarctic Survey
Nunatak, a band made up of scientists stationed on Antarctica, sets up to rehearse for its July 7 Live Earth concert.
msnbc.com
updated 6/14/2007 9:17:58 AM ET 2007-06-14T13:17:58

OK, so they're not rock stars. But scientists with the British Antarctic Survey will guarantee Al Gore's promise that the Live Earth concerts on July 7 will be performed on all 7 continents.

They'll be performing during the dead of winter at the Rothera Research Station. In fact, it'll be the first time anyone outside the station has heard the indie rock-folk band, Nunatak, play at all. (Nunatak, by the way, is a Greenlandic word that means an exposed summit of a ridge mountain or peak within an ice field or glacier.)

The band's live audience won't be very big, either. Just the 17 colleagues who are manning the station during the harsh Southern Hemisphere winter.

Going where no Antarcticans have gone before, the band will even dare to perform outside, on the ice. Temperatures could get chilly: -15 degrees Fahrenheit is not unlikely, and a wind chill would cool things off even more. Lighting conditions won't be optimal either: July is marked by twilight during most of the day.

Gore personally reached out to the band, not that he had many alternatives. "We were invited by former Vice President Gore, who has followed our research for some years and knows us," says BAS spokeswoman Linda Capper.

Flying in not an option
Live Earth organizers did originally explore the idea of flying in performers, but quickly dropped that when told the continent is pretty much inaccessible during the winter. Rothera, for example, only has a gravel runway for small planes and weather conditions that time of year would be dicey, to say the least.

The Live Earth concerts, held to raise awareness about climate change, will feature more than 100 of the world’s top musical acts with a concert on every continent.

Organizers expect 2 billion people worldwide will tune in via the Web at liveearth.msn.com, as well as TV and radio.

The band of course hopes that all viewers will watch their show, video of which will be sent back to Britain via high-speed datalink.

The base itself is on the Antarctic Peninsula, the fastest warming region on Earth. Temperatures there have risen by 5 degrees F during the last 50 years. In 2002, a massive ice shelf collapsed in a matter of days, raising fears that other shelves could eventually crumble and hasten the flow of grounded ice into the ocean, thus raising sea levels and swamping coastal communities around the world.

Climate exposure
So what do the researchers have to say about the gig?

"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," lead singer Matt Balmer, a 22-year-old electronics engineer, said in a statement released by the BAS.

Other band members are a marine biologist (Ali Massey), a meteorologist (Rob Webster), a communications engineer (Tris Thorne) and a polar guide (Roger Stilwell).

"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," Balmer added. "We could never have imagined taking part in a global concert."

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