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Science Update

May 2018



More than a hundred people took part in the two workshops to develop the research programmes in Christchurch and Wellington over the past few weeks (for details, see last month's Science Update). The participants came from across the country and were very diverse, bringing expertise in a wide range of scientific disciplines, policy, mātauranga Māori, technology, environmental causes, logistics and research management.
Each workshop spanned two days, over which attendees participated in a range of group and plenary activities, in order to detail the research that could be included in each research programme. The Programme Outlines for Programme One (The Antarctic ice-ocean-atmosphere system in a warming world) and Programme Two (Ross Sea region ecosystem dynamics in a warming world) were provided to participants in advance. Participants were challenged to design the best programme they could, which meant among other things, excellent scientific research that was multidisciplinary and multi-institutional in approach, focusing on pathways to policy outcomes, designing programmes that would attract international collaboration, encouraging capability growth, incorporating Vision Mātauranga in a meaningful way, and seeking to incorporate technology to advance frontiers. This was an exciting yet extremely challenging task for all involved, and we sincerely thank everyone for their commitment to and engagement in the process.   

The positions of Platform Director and Programme Leaders (two) will be open in early June. The Steering Group are in the process of establishing the Independent Science Panel, who will play a key role in reviewing the research programmes as they develop. Meanwhile, the team at Antarctica New Zealand will continue to work on synthesising the information resulting from the recent workshops.

Participants of the workshop for Programme One. Photo: Megan Martin


Participants of the workshop for Programme Two. Photo: Bob Zuur

The collaborative design process in action. Photo: Bob Zuur



If so, congratulations and good luck! Please be aware that if your full proposal involves an Antarctic field component you are required to submit a logistics support request to Antarctica New Zealand at the same time as the Marsden proposal is submitted (20 June 2018). The application template and submission guide (Antarctica New Zealand Logistics Support Request) can be downloaded here.  Completed forms should be emailed to Josh Scarrow. Please contact Josh if you have any questions regarding this requirement.



Antarctic Winter School took a virtual trip to the ice this year. Thirty participants from all walks of communication-life – journalists, educators, artists, government officials and stakeholders – gathered in the Catlins for a weekend of SEA ICE. Patricia Langhorne (University of Otago), Wolfgang Rack (University of Canterbury) and Craig Stevens (University of Auckland and NIWA) delivered fascinating facts and figures while fielding more than a few curly questions.


Pat says it was a luxury to talk about her passion while being egged on by enthusiastic communication experts. “The media contingent is responsible for delivering content to a vast range of audiences. The different approaches was quite an eye-opener for me. Thank you for the opportunity to take part - I learned such a lot from listening to and being grilled by these professional communicators. My head is still buzzing with the ideas, questions, challenges, and missed-opportunities that came up.”


Craig Stevens says the Winter School format is great for breaking down barriers between science and communication. “The two sides, with NZARI and Antarctica New Zealand folks as a kind of glue, really started to build a common language over the three days.  While I enjoyed seeing how my colleagues communicate science, the energy, interest and enthusiasm from the participants was the real highlight for me.”


Vonda Cummings, NZARI Deputy Director, did an incredible job of pulling the scientists and schedule together. We look forward to seeing future outreach and commitment from participants and are so inspired by their engagement, we’re already planning next year’s Winter School!

Winter School 2018 participants.

Congratulations to our Antarcticans on these recent publications:


Dennison F., McDonald A. J., and Morgenstern O. (2017). The Evolution of Zonally Asymmetric Austral Ozone in a Chemistry Climate Model. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 17. DOI:10.5194/acp-17-14075-2017


Gaudel A., Cooper O.R., Ancellet G., Barret B., Boynard A., Burrows J.P., et al. (2018). Tropospheric Ozone Assessment Report: Present-day distribution and trends of tropospheric ozone relevant to climate and global atmospheric chemistry model evaluation . Elementa Science of the Anthropocene, 6. DOI:10.1525/elementa.291


Koo H., Mojib N., Hakim J.A., Hawes I., Tanabe Y., Andersen D.T., Bej A.K. (2017). Microbial Communities and Their Predicted Metabolic Functions in Growth Laminae of a Unique Large Conical Mat from Lake Untersee, East Antarctica. Frontiers in Microbiology, 8. DOI:10.3389/fmicb.2017.01347


Martin A.P., Smellie J.L., Cooper A.F., Townsend D.B. (2018) Formation of a spatter-rich pyroclastic density current deposit in a Neogene sequence of trachytic-mafic igneous rocks at Mason Spur, Erebus volcanic province, Antarctica. Bulletin of Volcanology, 80. DOI:10.1007/s00445-017-1188-7

Seppälä A., Douma E., Rodger C.J., Verronen P.T., Clilverd M.A., Bortnik J. (2018).  Relativistic electron microburst events: modeling the atmospheric impact. Geophysical Research Letters, 45 DOI:2017GL075949


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

A large contingent of scientists, environmental managers, and Antarctic programme managers are soon to head to Europe for the Open Science Conference of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR), and the annual general meeting and symposium of the Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programmes (COMNAP; Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, 11-14 June).
POLAR2018 brings together SCAR and the International Arctic Science Committee - sure to generate some exciting discussion and no doubt also a deluge of "bipolar" puns... POLAR2018 will be held in Davos, Switzerland from 15-26 June, beginning with a series of business meetings, followed by the main body of the conference, and finishing with the SCAR delegates meeting (where New Zealand will be represented by the Royal Society National Committee on Antarctic Science).
At last count, 71 delegates from New Zealand were registered to attend POLAR2018! We wish everyone safe travels, and a very productive and energising conference.
Below, a number of meetings and workshops have been outlined that are of special relevance to New Zealand - many of these are led by Kiwis. For full programme information, please visit the POLAR2018 website. A complete list of side meetings can be found here.
ANTOS (Antarctic Nearshore and Terrestrial Observation Systems ) WORKSHOP
The Antarctic Near-shore and Terrestrial Observation System (ANTOS) is a SCAR Expert group that was created in August 2016 to coordinate a biologically focused, international effort to collect data necessary to assess environmental and biological variability and change in terrestrial and near-shore habitats across the Antarctic continent. Long-term goals of ANTOS include the establishment of technical guidelines for an internationally-coordinated installation of sensor networks, and standards for long-term data collection, storage, and sharing among national programs. This workshop will be used to inform the SCAR community on recent advancements in the development of an international ANTOS database, and the design of a manual describing the specific requirements of instrumentation needed for ANTOS installations. The results of an international survey that will be used to identify critical ANTOS installation sites based on currently existing long term datasets will also be reported.
Saturday, 16 June 2018; 1pm – 5pm; Room B Pischa; Open to anyone; Contact: Craig Cary
GeoMAP (Geological Mapping Update of Antarctica) ACTION GROUP MEETING
The GeoMAP Action Group is an international effort to gather both rock and surficial deposit information on existing hard-copy geological maps and compile it into a modern GIS framework. The group aims to build a dataset that defines exposed geology – describing the geosphere for both geological and multidisciplinary studies, providing information that can underpin studies of glacial dynamics and climate change. With large parts of Antarctica now covered by some form of digital information, much has been achieved since the group formed in late 2014. This meeting will provide: an update of progress in different sectors of Antarctica; formalise peer review and discuss integration of data into a seamless dataset; discuss the final data design and product delivery mechanism. (NB: There will be a separate workshop(s) at some stage in 2018 to iron out specific details of datasets). The GeoMAP team welcomes anyone to attend this meeting - particularly anyone interested in capturing geological data, helping to review mapping and datasets, or is interested in downstream use of these data.
Sunday, 17 June 2018; 1pm – 4pm; Room A Seehorn; Open to anyone; Contact: Simon Cox
The SCAR Action Group on Integrated Science for the Sub-Antarctic (ISSA) was formed in 2014. It’s objectives are to 1) Provide a comprehensive overview of past and current sub-Antarctic science, 2) Identify pressing science questions for current and future work based on national priorities, strengths, and 1st SCAR Horizon Scan questions, 3) Identify key lessons for science, conservation, and policy across the region, 4) Develop a network of scientists across the region, including support for early career researchers.

In our first two meetings we identified priority work areas for the Subantarctic and identified approaches to ensure observations are comparable across longitude/latitude and through time. At POLAR 2018 we will update progress on publications, field achievements and brainstorm how to deliver more widely on the Subantarctic Science Challenges and how to assist scientists with achieving ISSA goals in these difficult to reach locations.
Friday, 15 June 2018; 12pm – 4pm; Room B Pischa; Open to anyone; Contact: Gary Wilson
This workshop of the SCAR Research Programme Past Antarctic Ice Sheets (PAIS) and Palaeoclimate Records from the Antarctic Margin and Southern Ocean (PRAMSO) aims to provide the Antarctic climate and palaeoclimate communities with the coordination and support for proposed and developing shallow and deep sea drilling projects. This includes identification of site survey needs, discuss recent results, ongoing and future projects.
Friday, 15 June 2018; 3pm – 5pm; Room A Schwarzhorn; Open to anyone; Contact:  Richard Levy
As an original signatory of the Antarctic Treaty and the Madrid Protocol on Environmental Protection, New Zealand has an enduring international obligation and deep national commitments to ensure the highest standards of management for the continent based on scientific evidence. In particular, New Zealand has a special responsibility for the protection of the McMurdo Dry Valleys, which face increasing human activity, effects of climate change, and growing risks of invasion by non-native species. The Dry Valley Ecosystem Resilience (DryVER) programme is an international interdisciplinary project aimed at developing objective, evidence-based planning and management tools for the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica (MDV). The project’s foundation will be a comprehensive understanding of the resilience and sensitivity of MDV habitats to human impacts and invasive species. This understanding will be gained through rigorous fieldwork, laboratory analyses and experimentation, remote-sensing and instrument-based data collection, and climate and ecological modelling. The information will be spatially explicit for direct integration into an interactive GIS framework that that will map and predict biodiversity, productivity, and sensitivities to impact, invasion, and climate change across the entire MDV region. This workshop will be designed to inform the SCAR community about the DryVER programme and to solicit feedback on current accomplishments and projected outputs.

Sunday, 17 June 2018; 8am – 12pm; Room A Sertig; Open to anyone; Contact: Craig Cary



New Zealand has significant and enduring interests in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.  These include peace, security and effective governance in Antarctica, together with environmental, scientific, conservation, reputational and economic interests. These interests are outlined in the 2002 Revised New Zealand Statement of Strategic Interest, available here.

Although New Zealand’s interests have not changed substantially, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) think the Statement could benefit from a “plain English” approach that clearly articulates our enduring interests and how New Zealand will engage to promote those interests. MFAT propose this "plain English" statement of New Zealand’s Interests in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean and welcome your feedback on this draft. 

Comments may be sent by email until 30 July 2018 to




The ARC team 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 our 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.


NIWA are hosting the 2018 NZ Sea Ice Symposium in Wellington, 5-6 July. This biennial gathering of New Zealand's sea ice community aims to discuss on-going and future work, collaborations and opportunities. Confirmed keynote speakers are Nancy Bertler, Vonda Cummings and Gabby O'Connor. Register here.



The international conference on a Marine Ecosystem Assessment for the Southern Ocean (MEASO) was held in Hobart on 9-13 April 2018. 175 people attended from 23 countries, spanning scientists, policy-makers, fishing industry, and environmental NGOs (see Table 1 for breakdown). The program and abstracts are available on the MEASO web site. The conference was focused on four themes that underpin a MEASO: (i) assessments of parts of the ecosystem; (ii) responses of biota to changing environments; (iii) methods for modelling habitats, species and food webs; and (iv) and the design of observing systems to measure change in the ecosystem. A unique highlight of the conference was a day-long policy forum discussing how to better link scientists, policy makers, industry and environmental NGOs and the public at large. This was regarded a great success, with participants noting that these types of forum are very rare and need to be undertaken more regularly.


An important outcome of the conference was a work plan to deliver the first MEASO over the course of 2018. Lessons from this process will inform the development of a cycle of work to deliver a second MEASO in the future. Many conference attendees noted with appreciation the attention given to promoting equity and diversity, as well as for encouraging and involving early career researchers in all aspects of the organisation, participation and delivery of the conference. The MEASO community is very open to new contributors and collaborators - if you are interested, make contact via the website links.



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.


SCAR and COMNAP have again joined forces to launch fellowships for early-career researchers. SCAR will offer 3 to 4 fellowships of up to USD $15,000 each for 2018 and COMNAP will offer up to 1 fellowship with funding of up to USD $15,000.  The fellowships enable early-career researchers to join a project team from another country, opening up new opportunities and often creating partnerships that last for many years and over many Antarctic field seasons. Note that the application process for SCAR and COMNAP fellowships are now separate and the eligibility criteria differs. The deadline for SCAR and COMNAP fellowship applications is 11 July 2018.


The SCAR and COMNAP schemes are launched in conjunction with the Scientific Scholarship Scheme of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).  The CCAMLR Scholarship provides 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 CCAMLR scholarship applications is 1 October 2018.

All three schemes are being jointly promoted by the three organisations.  


Find more information about SCAR and COMNAP Fellowships here, and information about the CCAMLR Scholarships here.


Aurora over the Ice shelf. 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.