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PM launches major scientific voyage to Antarctica

PM launches major scientific voyage to Antarctica


Prime Minister Helen Clark today launched a major New Zealand scientific voyage to Antarctica which will capture information on the effects of climate change in the region.

Helen Clark said the eight-week voyage on the vessel Tangaroa will have 26 scientists and 18 crew members.

“The voyage, known as NZ IPY-CAML, leaves on 31 January and falls under two global science programmes – International Polar Year and the Census of Antarctic Marine Life. The Labour-led Government is supporting both these programmes with funding of $11.1 million, which I announced last May.

“International Polar Year runs from March 2007 to March 2009 to take in two summer seasons at both Poles. Its purpose is to better understand the land and sea environments of the Arctic and Antarctic, and the role they play in influencing climate change.

“Within this, our top scientists will focus on the biodiversity of the Ross Sea as part of the Census of Antarctic Marine Life (CAML) – a multi-national research project involving 23 countries and 11 coordinated voyages, to survey marine ecosystems and habitats in waters surrounding Antarctica.

“The scientists will explore a variety of life forms living at the sea-surface to the sea-bed and they will film the seabed at depths of 4000m, in areas not previously explored.

“The data gathered from this voyage will help assist decision-making on environmental issues such as climate change and its effect on Southern Ocean eco-systems. Data analysis of the samples and information collected from the voyage will take place over a three year period,” Helen Clark said.

“The results will also support New Zealand’s commitment to ensuring the sustainable management of fisheries, including the tooth fish fishery.

“The voyage is a big challenge in terms of logistics and human endurance, with samples being collected round the clock and participants sea-bound for the entire journey. New Zealand is proud to be making such a significant contribution to International Polar Year.

“The voyage is a collaboration between Land Information New Zealand (LINZ), Ministry of Fisheries (MFish), Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Antarctica New Zealand, National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), New Zealand universities, and both the Italian and United States Antarctic Programmes,” Helen Clark said.


Background information

International - International Polar Year (IPY) A global scientific programme designed to better understand the land and sea environments of the Arctic and Antarctic and the effects of climate changes on them. The IPY programme began in March 2007 and runs until March 2009 to cover two sampling seasons at each pole.

The first International Polar Year began in 1882 and has occurred every 50 years since. Each “year” has proven to be a major marker in scientific knowledge and geophysical exploration, and has greatly fostered international cooperation in science. IPY has also been the source of significant scientific discoveries including proving the theory of continental drift.
The Census of Antarctic Marine Life (CAML) One of many international research programmes that falls under the IPY umbrella. It is a multi-national research project involving 23 countries in 11 co-ordinated voyages, to survey marine life and habitats around Antarctica. CAML is one of the broader Census of Marine Life projects (CoML) which aims to determine the diversity of marine species across all oceans and depths by 2010.

Ocean Survey 20/20 An exploration programme designed to survey New Zealand’s total ocean area and its resources. It will provide important information to enable New Zealand to more effectively develop and manage its natural ocean resources in a sustainable way.

Web-links http://www.fish.govt.nz – Go to environment/Habitat Protection and Research/IPY-CAML. NB: This site provides further background information about the actual science objectives of the project and also has web-links to other associated programmes and agencies – eg CAML, IPY, Ocean Survey 20/20, NIWA, Antarctica NZ, LINZ and the Science Hub.

ENDS

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