Please note that some of the links in this news archive will no longer be active.
21 April 2008
SCIENTISTS IN FROM THE COLD
Two New Zealand scientists have returned from a groundbreaking study of how Antarctic organisms cope with freezing. The research supported by Antarctica New Zealand, believed to be the first carried out so late in autumn, was part of the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research's (Niwa's) Life in the Cold and Dark project. It was one of six projects to receive special government funding for the 2008 International Polar Year. The last flight from Antarctica usually leaves in late February.
Niwa scientists Ian Hawes and Karl Safi spent eight weeks camping near the McMurdo Ice Shelf in -40°C temperatures. Hawes said it was the first time in the modern era researchers had been able to stay so late in Antarctica and study organisms in the lead-up to winter. He was researching how oxygen-breathing organisms dealt with the period of "freezing-up", when the ponds they lived in became toxic with sulphide.
"One of the surprises was the speed with which ice forms. It forms faster and more consistently than we thought it would," he said. "Most organisms were well-frozen before the really difficult toxic conditions took hold". The organisms studied evolved three billion years ago. "They are pretty much indestructible, they can cope with almost anything the world can throw at them," Hawes said.
With only a few hours of light a day, conditions were rough. The team slept in tents in freezing temperatures and used portable huts as makeshift laboratories, and living and cooking quarters. Keeping samples and equipment from freezing was challenging and often involved carrying hot water bottles around or keeping things tucked inside clothes, said Hawes. "It was a great time and real adventure, but it's great to be back," he said.
18 April 2008
ANTARCTICA NEW ZEALAND SCIENCE UPDATE NO. 30
The latest science update contains information on the draft science strategy document, end-of-season review meeting, late season IPY research work, and links to various other items of interest. Download updates here.
18 April 2008
WIND POWER FOR SCOTT BASE
Antarctica New Zealand and Meridian Energy are about to embark on a project to build the southernmost wind farm in the world. The project will be part of Antarctica New Zealand's contribution to the joint logisitics pool with the United States Antarctic Program on Ross Island, Antarctica. The scheme will reduce power generation fuel consumption and will involve the construction of three wind turbines on the Crater Hill site. For more information go to the press release.
12 April 2008
EXPLORING ANTARCTICA FESTIVAL IN WELLINGTON, 12-20 APRIL
On Friday 18 April the NZSO will give the world premiere of Gareth Farr's Terra Incognita, inspired by Gareth's trip as an Artist to Antarctica in the 2005/06 season. In conjunction with this event there is an NZSO Antarctic Festival running in Wellington throughout the week with seminars, an exhibition (at the NewDowse) and film evening. The various events include the participation of a number of other artists who have travelled through the Artists to Antarctica programme. More information can be found On Friday 18 April the NZSO will give the world premiere of Gareth Farr's Terra Incognita, inspired by Gareth's trip as an Artist to Antarctica in the 2005/06 season. In conjunction with this event there is an NZSO Antarctic Festival running in Wellington throughout the week with seminars, an exhibition (at the NewDowse) and film evening. The various events include participation of a number of other artists who have travelled through the Artists to Antarctica programme.
1 April 2008
ENVIRO-MARK NZ GOLD STANDARD ACCREDITATION
Antarctica New Zealand has been successfully re-accredited for the Gold Standard of Enviro-Mark NZ through an external audit. Both its Orchard Road operations and management of its Scott Base activities were considered for the audit.
Enviro-Mark NZ is an environmental management system marketed and supported throughout New Zealand by Landcare Research. It provides a step-by-step process to enhance business performance in a number of areas including: achieving health, safety, and environmental legal compliance, reducing environmental risk, increasing resource use efficiency (water, waste, energy, and raw materials) and improving status with stakeholders by demonstrating environmental commitment.
Enviro-Mark was developed in the United Kingdom to provide an Environmental Management System (EMS) accessible to all organisations. In 2001 Landcare Research, a Crown Research Institute, secured the New Zealand licence for Enviro-Mark and it has been adapted for use in this country and registered as Enviro-Mark NZ. Enviro-Mark NZ provides businesses with a framework to systematically assess their performance against agreed standards. Businesses using Enviro-Mark NZ are: Reducing energy consumption; reducing waste to landfill; reducing potential legal compliance risks and raising staff awareness.
28 March 2008
ANDRILL INDEPENDENT ENVIRONMENTAL AUDIT
In November 2007, at the invitation of Antarctica New Zealand, an independent environmental audit was conducted by the British Antarctic Survey and the Australian Antarctic Division of the ANDRILL McMurdo Sound Portfolio project. Overall the audit concluded that the ANDRILL Programme was undertaken in compliance with the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty, and largely in accordance with the Final Comprehensive Environmental Evaluation (CEE). The auditors believed that the impacts of the activity were well within the environmental limits set by the Final CEE. The audit is to be presented as a joint Information Paper to the Committee for Environmental Protection (CEP) XI meeting in 2008. The full document can be downloaded here.
26 March 2008
SCOTT BASE STAFF JOIN EARTH HOUR
On 29 March between 8 and 9pm Scott Base will shut down all non-essential energy sources in recognition of Earth Hour. Around the world Earth Hour is intended to encourage businesses, communities and individuals to take the simple steps needed to cut their greenhouse gas emissions. While plenty of New Zealand businesses and individuals are signing up to Earth Hour it will present unique challenges to the winter team at Scott Base.
With the Antarctic winter setting in and daylight hours diminishing by as much as 2 hours per week, a total shutdown of the Base could be life-threatening. Scott Base winter manager Grant Hill said "A significant effort already goes into minimising the Base footprint in Antarctica. Fuel for energy is expensive to get to Antarctica and for that reason we run fairly efficiently. That said, we are keen to do whatever we can to reduce our energy use even further.
As a mark of Earth Hour Scott Base will be shutting down to minimum safety lighting and switching off all unnecessary appliances and computers. "We will probably sit round in the dark for a while or go to bed early. Candles will not be an option due to the risk of fire" said Hill. Heating would still be essential, as temperatures at Scott Base were now falling close to -30 degrees C.
28 February 2008
ENVIRONMENTAL DOMAINS ANALYSIS: RE-DEFINING THE BIG ICE
New Zealand scientists have taken a big step forward in the ongoing protection of Antarctica. They have completed a classification of the physical environment of the entire continent which is now considered the leading environmental information database for Antarctica. The classification, called Environmental Domains of Antarctica, highlights environmental variables that can be used for a range of management activities in Antarctica including prioritising sites for protection and ongoing environmental monitoring. Click here for more information and to download the entire report.
22 February 2008
EXTENDED ANTARCTIC SEASON
After a successful summer season of scientific work, Antarctica New Zealand, supported by the United States National Science Foundation, will extend its 2007/08 Antarctic summer season until mid-April. For more information read the press release.
15 February 2008
ICESHEET FEBRUARY 2008
The latest issue of Icesheet has now been published and can be downloaded here. Along with other interesting information, it includes an update on ANDRILL and other New Zealand International Polar Year projects, and the visit to Antarctica by Jay Piggott, the inaugural Antarctic Youth Ambassador.
8 February 2008
NEW ZEALAND DEFENCE FORCE IN ANTARCTICA
The New Zealand Defence Force is playing a significant role in the current offload of cargo which supplies a vital lifeline to McMurdo Station and Scott Base in Antarctica. The New Zealand Defence Force have supplied a 47-strong team, which includes drivers and movement operators who are on the Ice as part of Antarctica New Zealand's contribution to the joint US/NZ logistics pool. For more information read the press release.
29 January 2008
RT HON WINSTON PETERS VISITS SCOTT BASE
Foreign Minister Winston Peters flies to Antarctica today for a three-day visit to Scott Base. During his visit Mr Peters will unveil a plaque to commemorate the success of the ANDRILL drilling project. For more information read the press release.
11 January 2008
SIR EDMUND HILLARY
Antarctica New Zealand was saddened by the passing of Sir Edmund Hillary today. Sir Ed, as he was affectionately known, holds a special place within the New Zealand Antarctic programme. He was largely responsible for the creation of Scott Base which has recently celebrated 50 years of continuous operation. For more information read the press release.
10 January 2008
ROBERT BADEN THOMSON 1927-2008, OBE, POLAR MEDAL
Former long-serving Director Bob Thomson died at his home in the United States on 3 January 2008. RBT (Bob) Thomson was the Director of the DSIR Antarctic Division from 1965 to 1988. In all he made 78 trips to Antarctica and received numerous NZ and international honours for his work including: The Antarctic Service Medal of the United States in recognition of valuable contributions to exploration and scientific achievement under the U.S. Antarctic Research Program; The Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold Rays conferred by his Imperial Majesty the Emperor of Japan; The Antarctic Service Medallion for service with the Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions on behalf of the Government of Australia. Bob was also very influential in improving air safety in Antarctica after the Erebus Disaster in 1979. In 2005 one of the main blocks at Scott Base was named the Thomson Building, acknowledging his immense contribution to New Zealand's standing in Antarctica, and to the New Zealand base in particular. Two geographical features Thomson Peak and Thomson Massif are also named in his honour.