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Science Update

December 2018



Welcome to the final Science Update for 2018! We hope you have found these newsletters to be an interesting and useful source of Antarctic information. Many thanks to those of you who have contributed items over the past year - please do keep sending us any content you wish to be included.

This month we bring you a 'holiday special' update featuring photos and tales from a few of the scientists who have returned home following their successful season on the ice.



On behalf of those of us in the Christchurch office, our colleagues at Scott Base, members of the Antarctic Science Platform and the Scott Base redevelopment team, we would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank all of you for your support and efforts throughout the year. A challenging start to the season tested our skills in flexibility and fortitude, but thanks to your ongoing commitment we are now back on track and continuing to support world-class science.

Highlights for this year include being named as the host of the Antarctic Science Platform, a strong kiwi contingent at the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research conference in Davos, as well as the many exciting scientific discoveries made over the course of the year.

The team at Antarctica New Zealand send warm wishes to you and your family for a very Merry Christmas and a safe and Happy New Year. We look forward to continuing to work closely with you in 2019.



Congratulations to our Antarcticans on these recent publications:

Priestley, R., Dohaney, J., Atkins, C., Salmon, R., and Robinson, K (2018). Engaging new Antarctic learners and ambassadors through flexible learning, open education and immersive video lectures. Polar Record, 1 - 15, doi:10.1017/S0032247418000384

O'Driscoll, R., Ladroit, Y., Parker, S., Vacchi, M., Canese, S., Ghigliotti, L., Dunford, A., and Mormede, S. (2018). Acoustic deployments reveal Antarctic silverfish under ice in the Ross Sea. Antarctic Science, 30(6) 345-353. doi:10.1017/S0954102018000366

If you would like your publications featured here please email our Science Team about your papers as they go to press. 


K066 - Natalie Robinson, NIWA
K066 returned from the ice at the end of November with a suite of new observations in the bag: cross-sound transects of snow, ice and sub-ice platelet layer thicknesses; ocean data from all levels beneath the ice, including timeseries of suspended frazil ice; and timelapse imagery of underwater ice growth on ropes, instruments and equipment. The team were joined by Florence Isaacs, a 2018 Antarctica NZ scholarship winner, and by ‘Walter’ the Weddell Seal who took up residence in one of the ocean access holes – both of whom fitted in well!

Melting a hole through the sea ice to deploy oceanographic instruments. Photo: Natalie Robinson

Peering down into the access hole. Photo: Natalie Robinson

Walter the Weddell seal making itself at home inside the ice hole. Photo: Natalie Robinson

Walter beneath the platelet ice. Photo: Natalie Robinson

K066 sea ice scientists celebrate a successful season. Photo: Richard Lord

K083B - Kim Goetz, NIWA

K083B successfully completed the first part of their field season, gathering data from 21 adult female Weddell seals. The 4 person international team commuted by snow machine from Scott Base to access seals located at Tent Island, big and little Razorback Islands, Hutton Cliffs and North Base located at the base of the Erebus glacier tongue.
This project operated under DOC Permit Number: 69331-MAR

Above and below: mum and pup Weddell seals. Photos: Sarah Michael and Kim Goetz.

The K083 team with one of their study subjects. Photo: Rachel Holser

K043 - Ken Ryan, Victoria University of Wellington
Team K043 returned home after a successful season investigating the distribution and health of primary producers under the sea ice. The team implemented an under ice hyperspectral camera run on second hand skis which allowed the rig to be towed along a transect 1m wide by 15m long, to determine baseline data of sea ice microbial biomass. A remotely controlled robot was used to aid in the deployment of the hyperspectral camera rig. The team were joined by Michael Bollen, a 2018 Antarctica NZ scholarship winner.

Drilling into the sea ice. Photo: Ken Ryan

Emiliano Cimoli, Vanessa Lucieer  and Richard Ballard deploying an underwater ROV. Photo: Michael Bollen

The HI rig floating under the ice. Brown sea ice algae are visible on the bottom edge of the hole. Photo: Michael Bollen

Sea ice algae. Photo: Richard Ballard

The team were also lucky to receive some special visitors to their camp - of the emperor penguin kind!

Photos: Ken Ryan

K812 - Craig Cary, University of Waikato

K812 completed 8 days of intensive work at Cape Hallett generously hosted by our Korean Polar Research Institute (KOPRI) colleagues.  KOPRI has established a 5 year camp at Hallett to continue their work monitoring the Adélie penguin colony. The camp includes a solar powered hut large enough for 11 researchers to work and live.  Our NZARI-supported work included hyper-spectral imaging of the colony and high productivity moss beds with a new drone, activity assessments of springtails and moss under new active in situ warming chambers, and continued assessment of the impact of the colony on local and regional microbial communities.

Cape Hallett camp. Photographer unknown

Enjoying the KOPRI hospitality. Photo: Craig Cary


K085 - Dan Smale, NIWA

During November 2018, as part of a new NIWA, Antarctica New Zealand & USAP scientific collaboration Mike Kotkamp (NIWA) visited McMurdo station's radiosounding facility to install a standard humidity chamber (SHC) and train their operators on its use.  The SHC is a 100% relative humidity (RH) environment used as an additional ground-check for radiosonde humidity sensors (radiosondes typically only have a 0% RH check).  Constraining the upper limit of humidity values improves the water vapour estimates while decreasing their uncertainty, especially important in dry environments like the atmosphere above Antarctica.  Now, in addition to McMurdo radiosonde data's operational role in forecasting, those same data will be post-processed at the GCOS Reference Upper Air Network (GRUAN) Lead Centre and made available to the scientific community in their value-added format.  A similar SHC has been installed and operating at the NZ MetService's Invercargill site since 2016. The McMurdo sonde data will be the first Antarctic data processed by GRUAN.

The team gathered around the NIWA-provided standard humidity chamber. Photographer unknown


End of Season Actual Reports are required to be completed within one month of returning from Scott Base.

All EMPEROR Level Two fields with a red astrix need to be completed by 31 January 2019.


The biennial New Zealand Antarctic Science Conference will be held 17 - 19 June 2019 in Christchurch, New Zealand. Watch this space for more details to come early next year. Similar to previous years, the Event Managers Workshop will follow on from the conference, and will be held Thursday 20 June.

The Polar and Alpine Microbiology Conference will be held 4 - 8 February 2019 in Hamilton, New Zealand - the first time this conference has been held in the Southern Hemisphere. The conference will be held at the University of Waikato, and is being organised by the International Centre for Terrestrial Antarctic Research (ICTAR). The early bird registration for this conference has been extended to 21 December 2018. Click here to find out more.

The Snow and Ice Research Group New Zealand Annual Workshop will be held 20 - 22 February 2019, in Kurow, New Zealand. SIRG forms the New Zealand branch of the International Glaciological Society, and is an association of researchers interested in cryospheric observations and processes. Click here to register and submit your abstract for the workshop (by 11 January 2019).

If you have any news, items, great images, or recent publications that you would like to feature in the monthly update, please send them to our Science Team.