If All Time Zones Converge at the North and South Poles – How Do They Tell Time There?
Imagine that you are a zoologist stationed at the South Pole. You are studying the nighttime migration patterns of Emperor penguins, which involves long periods observing the creatures. But you realize that while you watch them waddle, you are in danger of missing a very special episode of X-factor on television unless you set the Video Recorder for the right time. What’s a scientist to do?
Well, maybe that scenario doesn’t play out too often, but those vertical line markings on globes do reflect the reality. All the time zones do meet at the two poles, so how do the denizens of the South Pole (and the much fewer and usually shorter-term residents of the North Pole) handle the problem ?
One might assume that the scientists would arbitrarily settle on Greenwich Mean Time, as GMT is used as the worldwide standard for setting time. However when it comes to time zones, the scientists at the poles are downright un-scientific: They use whatever time zone they want!
It appears that the scientists themselves pick the time zone that is most convenient for their collaborators. For example, most of the flights to Antarctica depart from New Zealand, so the most popular time at the South Pole is New Zealand time. The United States’ Palmer Station, located on the Antarctic Peninsula, sets its time according to its most common debarkation site, Punta Renas, Chile, which as it happens also shares a time zone with Eastern Standard Time in the United States. The Russian station, Volstok, is coordinated with Moscow time, presumably to ease time-conversion hassles for the comrades back in Mother Russia.