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Science Update

July 2018




Research programme development

To date, more than 100 researchers, end-users and stakeholders have participated in workshops to develop core Platform research programmes. Workshop discussions have been synthesised, and high-level information on major projects has been provided to the Independent Science Panel (ISP) for review. The resulting research framework will be incorporated into the final Platform Plan that Antarctica New Zealand will submit to MBIE by August 31st.


Independent Science Panel

The ISP will play a crucial role in ensuring science excellence from project initiation through to delivery. It will provide independent strategic oversight to the Platform Director and Steering Group on the scientific direction of the Platform, as well as advising on science quality. The ISP has served NZARI for some time, and will now provide independent advice for both the Platform and NZARI. The current membership is:

  • Prof. Martin Siegert (Glaciology, geophysics – Grantham Institute, Imperial College, London)
  • Dr Carlota Escutia (Ice sheet dynamics, geologist – Andalusian Institute of Earth Sciences, Spain)
  • Prof. Rob Dunbar (Earth science, biogeochemist – Stanford University, USA)
  • Dr Byron Adams (Terrestrial biology – Brigham Young University, USA)
  • Prof. Dame Jane Francis (Paleoclimatology – British Antarctic Survey, UK)
  • Dr Jill Mikucki (Microbiology – University of Tennessee, USA)
  • Dr Steve Rintoul (Oceanography and climate – Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Australia)
  • Dr Ho Il Yoon (Paleoceanography – Korea Polar Research Institute, South Korea)

Given the Platform’s focus on technology and innovation, and marine ecosystem research, additional members will be sought to fill these disciplinary gaps.



The preferred candidates for Platform leadership roles (Platform Director, and two Programme Leaders) have been offered contracts. It is anticipated that successful candidates will take up their roles in August, and we look forward to announcing the team soon!

We are currently seeking applications for the role of Platform Manager, responsible for  managing the Antarctic Science Platform by working with the Platform Leadership Team, government stakeholders and scientists to ensure that research programmes are delivering on the fund’s objectives. Applications close Sunday 12 August, with interviews planned for the 22nd and 23rd of August. More information can be found here or by contacting Fiona Shanhun. Please share this news with your networks.

Next steps

We intend to commence a proposal-writing phase in September, and anticipate that proposals, along with logistics plans for the 2019/20 field season, will be due in late October. More information about this process will be shared by the Platform leadership team as soon as possible.

More information about the Antarctic Science Platform and the process to date can be found here.



We are excited to share that we are almost ready to go live with our new Science Publications Database. This database will showcase research emanating from Antarctica New Zealand supported science, in an accessible and interactive format. Keep your eyes peeled for an update coming soon…

The 2018 Antarctica New Zealand Postgraduate Scholars were recently announced. Congratulations to Michael, Florence and Sheng, who each receive a stipend to support their studies, and will travel to the ice this coming season to participate in research events. We received a large number of strong applications this year, and are very encouraged by the high calibre of talent getting involved in Antarctic research in New Zealand. For more information about this year's scholars, follow the links below.

Michael Bollen - NZ Post Antarctic Scholarship

Michael is a geology Masters student at the University of Otago, investigating the influence of diatom assemblages on the δ13C of particulate organic carbon in the Ross Sea, and the resultant implications for paleoceanographic reconstructions. 

Florence IsaacsAntarctica New Zealand Doctoral Scholarship
Florence is a PhD candidate from Victoria University of Wellington, studying largescale climate drivers of sea ice and outlet glacier variability in East Antarctica, primarily via the analysis of pre-existing observational and modelled datasets.

Sheng Fan Antarctica New Zealand Doctoral Scholarship
Sheng is a University of Otago PhD candidate, investigating the role of particulate second phases in controlling the mechanical behaviour and microstructural evolution of polar ice flow.


Congratulations to our Antarcticans on these recent publications:

Cummings V.J., Hewitt J.E., Thrush S.F., Marriott P.M., Halliday N.J., Norkko A. (2018) Linking Ross Sea coastal benthic communities to environmental conditions: documenting baselines in a spatially variable and changing world. Frontiers in Marine Science, 5. DOI:10.3389/fmars.2018.00232

Hughes K.A., Constable A., Frenot Y., Lopez-Martinez J., McIvor E., Njastad B., Terauds A., Liggett D., Roldan G., Wilmotte A., Xavier J.C. (2018). Antarctic environmental protection: Strengthening the links between science and governance.  Environmental Science & Policy, 83. DOI:10.1016/j.envsci.2018.02.006

Jarvis R.M., Gilbert N., Orams M., Pointing S.B., Selvaraj S., Bollard Breen B. (2018). Understanding the values and perceptions of base personnel to improve conservation management and policy in Antarctica. Environmental Science and Policy. DOI:10.1016/j.envsci.2018.04.006 

Rack U. (2018). Survival and Science: Early Antarctic Explorers and Sealing, In Historical Antarctic Sealing Industry. Proceedings of an international conference in Cambridge 16 – 21 September 2016, edit: Headland R.K., Lintott B.J. Cambridge: Scott Polar Research Institute Occasional Publication Series, pp 121 – 129.



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


Jonny Harrison (Winter Base Leader), at it again with his auroral photography. A halo above Mt Terror, with Jupiter to the left and Mars to the right.


In the previous science update, we asked for your highlights and perspectives from the POLAR2018 conference in Davos, Switzerland. Below are a range of reflections. Thanks to all who contributed.


By Fiona Shanhun

The XXXV SCAR Open Science Conference was a joint meeting between SCAR and the International Arctic Science Committee. The meeting, held in Davos, Switzerland from the 15th – 26th of June 2018, was collectively called POLAR2018 – “where the Poles come together”. It brought together the world’s leading Arctic and Antarctic researchers for the first time since the International Polar Year of 2007-2008, and also included high alpine researchers, whose research area is often considered as “the third Pole”.

New Zealand was well-represented at SCAR, with contributions as follows:

  • 72 New Zealand attendees
  • 46 oral presentations by New Zealand attendees
  • 47 poster presentations by New Zealand attendees
  • 11 sessions chaired by New Zealand attendees

Contributions to SCAR Scientific Research Programmes

In addition to delivering high quality presentations, New Zealand researchers are making key contributions to existing SCAR Scientific Research Programmes (SRPs). Existing SRPs will conclude in 2020, and New Zealand researchers have made notable contributions to the success of all six of the existing SRPs (below), both through research activity as well as their involvement on the Steering Committees.

  • Past Antarctic Ice Sheet Dynamics (PAIS)
  • Antarctic Climate in the 21st Century (AntClim21)
  • State of the Antarctic Ecosystem (Ant-ECO)
  • Antarctic Thresholds - Ecosystem Resilience and Adaptation (AnT-ERA)
  • Solid Earth Responses and influences on Cryospheric Evolution (SERCE)
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics from Antarctica (AAA)

In addition, many New Zealand researchers have leadership roles in numerous SCAR Action and Expert Groups. Such groups are vital for coordinating international research efforts.


SCAR Delegates meeting

SCAR’s policy and strategy is formulated by its members through their appointed delegates. New Zealand was represented at the SCAR Delegates meeting by Professor Gary Wilson and Dr Fiona Shanhun. The election of Professor Wilson as a SCAR Vice President provides New Zealand with an additional opportunity to influence the development of future SCAR research strategies. Together with Peter Beggs’ election as a COMNAP Vice Chair, New Zealand is well-positioned to have an influential role in developing future international science and logistics strategies to meet the challenges of Antarctic research.


Discussions with the Korean and Chinese SCAR Delegates reinforced the enthusiasm of these National Antarctic Programmes to continue to develop science and logistics collaborations with New Zealand.


Future SCAR Scientific Research Programmes

Three new SRPs were approved for development over the next two years. This will enable the development of research programmes for SCAR Delegates to consider in 2020. All of the proposed programmes involve New Zealand researchers in their development phase:

  • Integrated Conservation Planning for Antarctica and the Southern Ocean - A multidisciplinary approach to inform and drive international policy response and effective management of Antarctic and Southern Ocean environments
  • Antarctic Ice Sheet Dynamics and Global Sea Level - Quantifying the Antarctic Ice Sheet contribution to future sea level change in order to enable anticipation, assessment, management and adaptation to risk
  • Near-term Variability and Prediction of the Antarctic Climate System - Prediction of near-term conditions in the Antarctic climate system on timescales of years to multiple decades

The three SRPs approved for development are strongly aligned with the Antarctic Science Platform research priorities. Progress to date in developing research programmes to be conducted as part of the Platform stands New Zealand in good stead to play leading roles in the development of the proposed SCAR SRPs. If approved in 2020, New Zealand researchers will likely have established programmes under the Platform that will contribute to SRP goals.

In addition, a merged Humanities and Social Sciences and History Group was approved as a SCAR Standing Committee while a review of existing SCAR Scientific Groups is conducted. This approach recognises the growing need for social sciences and humanities to be embedded across SCAR research programmes. It adopts the same approach that we have taken with the Antarctic Science Platform – requiring social sciences to be integrated within research programmes, rather than operating in isolation.


By Jamey Stutz

As an early-career researcher, the SCAR-IASC POLAR2018 conference was a valuable opportunity to engage with the polar research community.  The week was packed with excellent sessions, engaging side meetings and provided a rare chance to interact with northern hemisphere polar researchers.  I started my week with an invitation to discuss field work planning as part of the APECS world summit.  While the audience was full of experienced field researchers, I provided a unique perspective through my experience working in both large international and small national projects.  Later in the week, I chaired a collaborative workshop, building on a workshop from the 2017 PAIS conference in Trieste, Italy.  Korean, Italian, British, American and New Zealand researchers contributed to the theme of an interdisciplinary, community based glacial reconstruction in the western Ross Sea.  Building on progress from 2017, we committed to a work plan and will meet again at the 2019 ISAES conference in Korea. I also managed to sneak in a few posters presentations.  I presented the results of a year-long education outreach project aimed at 2nd-4th year primary school students to plan their own Antarctic field season – heaps of fun! Finally, I took the opportunity to show the exciting initial results from an NZARI funded project on the thinning history of the David Glacier.  This conference was personally rewarding and provided a wealth of opportunities for future work.  I’d like to thank the Antarctic Research Centre and Victoria University of Wellington for financial support in attending POLAR2018.

Jamey Stutz, presenting last summers fieldwork, and the aims of his project going forward.

By Simon Cox

A SCAR action group being led from GNS Science in Dunedin created a great deal interest at the Polar 2018 conference. GeoMAP is a collaborative action to build a modern geological dataset that classifies and describes the bedrock and surficial geology of Antarctica, driven by Simon Cox & Belinda Smith-Lyttle. The first version of the dataset,  which depicts ‘known geology’ of rock exposures rather than ‘interpreted’ sub-ice features, is now ~85% complete with some form of geological representation assigned to polygons suitable for use at 1:250,000 (or more-regional) scale.  While the Ross Sea and CTAM region had been displayed in a large 1:10 million map at last year’s New Zealand Antarctic conference, this was the first chance for people to see the entire continent.  The wider membership of SCAR gained an appreciation of the significant work that has been achieved – largely by visiting students and interns from overseas institutions. The dataset is like a “Wikipedia” of Antarctic geology, aimed towards continent-wide perspectives and cross-discipline interrogation, or directing specialist geological users to original source studies and maps. Cox and Smith-Lyttle’s somewhat ambitious target is to have the first beta-version of GeoMAP finalised for peer review in late 2018.

Progress of GeoMAP coverage as of June 2018.

By Pat (Langhorne)

Pat Wongpan (former PhD student at Otago) received the only mid-talk applause (that I heard) for his video clip in "Using under-ice Radiance Spectra to Determine Antarctic Fast Ice Algal Biomass”. This was joint NZ-Australian work.

Pat is currently a David Crighton Fellow at the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at the University of Cambridge, UK. He has just had a 3-year postdoc from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) confirmed. From September he will work with Shigeru Aoki and Takenobu Toyota at University of Hokkaido on the ROBOTICA (Research of Ocean-ice BOundary InTeraction and Change around Antarctica) programme.

By Tim Naish

SCAR is developing a future research strategy that more directly addresses the role Antarctica plays in the rapid pace of environmental change, the risks facing humanity and the growing global sustainability problems it brings.  The XXXV SCAR Delegates Meeting in Davos, Switzerland approved a Programme Planning Group (PPG) and budget for developing a new Scientific Research Programme (SRP) provisionally entitled Antarctic Ice Sheet Dynamics and Global Sea Level (AISSL). The aim of the SRP is to “quantify the Antarctic ice sheet contribution to past and future global sea-level change, from improved understanding of climate, ocean and solid Earth interactions and feedbacks with the ice, so that decision-makers can better anticipate and assess the risk in order to manage and adapt to sea-level rise and evaluate mitigation pathways”.  Proposed initial Chief Officer is Tim Naish (New Zealand) and the PPG has an initial membership 55 members from 14 SCAR countries. The programme better aligns and integrates the relevant research previously conducted within the ANTCLIM21, PAIS, ANTECO and SERCE SRPs in Themes 1-3 (below) to more effectively quantify future sea-level projections. Theme 4 is policy-facing and will include social scientists to help deliver and implement revised sea-level projections within a risk assessment/policy context. There will be planning workshops scheduled before final proposal is submitted to the SCAR Delegates Meeting in Hobart, 2020. Science programmes being planned under New Zealand’s Antarctic Research Platform will be highly relevant. For further information contact Tim Naish.


During the recent POLAR2018 conference in Davos, the inaugural meeting of the Pride in Polar Science Network occurred. This new network was formed by SCAR and IASC researchers to bring together the LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer +) community and Allies (friends and supporters of the LGBTQ+ community) to celebrate diversity and inclusivity in polar research. 

An anonymous, moderated mailing list, curated by SCAR, has been formed to help promote the network's message and to highlight events that may be of interest to the members. Sign up here. Additionally, the official Pride in Polar Science Twitter account was created: @PridePolar . The mailing list and group are open to anyone who would like to participate or stay informed and please forward these details on to anyone else who might be interested from the Polar Research community.


Can you tell us where Stu Robertson took this photo? Answer here.


Associate Professor Rebecca Priestley has been elected as a Companion of the Society in recognition of her work over more than 25 years to promote and communicate science issues to the New Zealand public.  She is the author or co-author of eight books on the history of science, including Dispatches from Continent Seven, an anthology of Antarctic science writing. Rebecca also led development of a MOOC (massive online open course) about Antarctic science, the first to be offered internationally by Victoria University of Wellington. In 2016 Rebecca was awarded the Prime Minister’s Science Communication Prize. The prize money supported her to found and launch the Aotearoa-NZ Science Journalism Fund, which, now in its second year, is supporting quality science journalism projects for New Zealand.


Antarctica New Zealand is a sponsor of the NZ Geoscience Society conference this year, which has the theme “Our Land, Our Ocean, Our Responsibility”. It will be held in Napier, 27-30 November, and includes sessions on sea level rise, climate, hazards, and a dedicated Antarctic Science session. Abstract submissions are open now, until 17 September -



The MEASO team are encouraging researchers of the Antarctic and Southern Ocean to contribute data and information to support the Marine Ecosystem Assessment of the Southern Ocean. There has been a lot of activity since the inaugural MEASO conference in Hobart earlier this year, which you can find out about in this update.

Do you have any taxon-specific information that you could contribute to the MEASO? Experts are encouraged to work individually or with others to compile templates of taxa (from microscopic organisms to megafauna). Contact to find out more and register your interest.

A workshop to consolidate the outcomes of MEASO-I is being considered (pending funding, host and usual workshop arrangements) for May or June 2019.  Keep an eye on the MEASO website for further updates.


Entries for the 2018 Prime Minister’s Science Prizes are now open, with New Zealand’s most talented established and emerging scientists, science teachers and science communicators able to apply for awards worth a combined value of $1 million across five categories.

You've got to be in to win... you can apply here.



The Antarctic Research Centre at the University of Victoria Wellington are seeking to recruit two PhD students to join their international glaciology and climate modelling team. The project, supported by the Royal Society Marsden Fund, aims to identify the drivers of the Antarctic Cold Reversal, a Southern Hemisphere climate change that occurred around 14,000 years ago.

Position 1 – Glacial geology and Beryllium-10 dating

The candidate will carry out geological/geomorphological field work in a small team on and around the beautiful and remote glaciers in New Zealand’s Southern Alps. In Wellington, this student work in the cutting edge cosmogenic nuclide laboratory. This student may also, depending on aptitude, skills and experience, contribute to the development or application of glacier models to palaeoclimate problems.

Position 2 – Glacier and palaeoclimate modelling

The candidate will carry out numerical modelling of glaciers in modern and past climates. This student will be based in the glacier modelling group, but will also have the opportunity to work in other, international climate modelling centres. This student will also have the chance to join fieldwork in the New Zealand Southern Alps.


Further information can be found here, or by contacting Professor Andrew Mackintosh.


The IPCC has selected the author teams that are now preparing the Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC). The selected experts took on roles of Coordinating Lead Authors (who draft each individual chapter) and Review Editors, who ensure that comments by experts and governments are given appropriate consideration as the report develops. The teams are working together to produce the Special Report, set to be finalized in September 2019.


The full list of Coordinating Lead Authors, Lead Authors and Review Editors is available here. If you have a contribution for this initiative, it must be submitted by 15 October 2018; contact the working group for more information.


The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), are offering a scholarship, providing funding of up to AUD $30,000 to assist early-career scientists to participate in the work of the CCAMLR Scientific Committee and its working groups over a period of two years.  The objective of the scheme is to build capacity within the CCAMLR scientific community to help generate and sustain the scientific expertise needed to support the work of CCAMLR in the long-term.  The deadline for applications is 1 October 2018. Find out more here


We've been featuring a few of Winter Base Leader Jonny Harrison's photos over recent months. It'll come as no surprise that he managed to capture the recent blood moon that many of us tried (and failed) to see in Christchurch and further afield. Thank you Jonny!

Aurora over Observation Hill, with Mars above blood moon (far right). Photo: Jonny Harrison.

Blood moon. Photo: Jonny Harrison.
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.