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Dag Haugum Photo: Thor Balkhed, Linköpings universitet
Dag Haugum Photo: Thor Balkhed, Linköpings universitet View original picture , opens in new tab/window

Construction studies in Antarctica

Published: 10 January 2020

The Swedish research station Wasa in Antarctica was built 30 years ago. I is built in timber. Dag Haugum is researching how this building has coped with the harsh climate and that knowledge can improve timber structures here at home in the cool Nordic region.

On Monday, December 16, Dag Haugum sets off on the expedition to Antarctica for sampling at Wasa research station. The trip goes via Cape Town in South Africa and from there with a new flight to the Russian base Novo in Antarctica. The stay will be about a month.

"I will attach temp- and humidity sensors in wall insulation and air gap, measure supply and exhaust air in the ventilation as well as flow and carbon dioxide measurement is done in air ducts. Measurement of moisture ratio in the wood material is done on site. Three outer panels from three different weather strips are replaced with new ones and the detached, or parts thereof, are shipped home for further analysis. Temperature differences in the shell of the house are recorded with a heat camera which also has a recording function. In addition to this, ocular inspection and documentation of the construction will be done", says Dag Haugum, PhD student in construction design at Luleå University of Technology.

Surveys and measurements were made during the first and second seasons after the station was built. Since then, no measurements, or observations for that matter, have been made. Also, no renovation work on the climate shell of the house has been undertaken. Also no repainting.

"The harsh climate in Antarctica can give a 60 degree difference in a day and hurricane winds of -30 degrees. It will be very interesting to see how this construction has managed", says Lennart Elfgren, professor of construction design at Luleå University of Technology.

The project Long-term study of buildings in cold climate is carried out by Luleå University of Technology and is funded by The Swedish Polar Research Secretariat, NCC Sweden AB, Nåiden Bygg AB, Luleå University of Technology, Finnish Meteorological Institute and University of Oulu. The project leader is Lennart Elfgren, professor at Luleå University of Technology.

Dag Haugum was present when the station was built in 1988-89 and he also carried out measurements in the 1989-90 season. This will be Dag Haugum's third trip to The Wasa Research Station.

Update January 13, 2020

"As you can see, the surface layer is quite influenced by 30 years of Antarctic weather. The building has largely performed well, but there are some adjustments (design defects) that need to be adjusted. It can be stated that tightness against train snow is an important factor. The measurements are going well and I have gathered a lot of material including photo and film."

Dag Haugum