Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search


Bedrock breakthrough in Antarctica

21 December 2012

Bedrock breakthrough in Antarctica

A team of scientists from nine nations, led by Victoria University’s Dr Nancy Bertler, have made a huge breakthrough in Antarctica—successfully drilling more than 760m through the ice to the bedrock, on an island in the Ross Sea.

The international project has been headed up by GNS Science, Victoria University and Antarctica New Zealand.

Dr Bertler, of Victoria University’s Antarctic Research Centre and GNS Science, has led the team to drill the 763m long ice core from an ice cap on Roosevelt Island in Antarctica. They completed the drilling late last night when the drill bit brought 40cms of sediment up from the base of the ice sheet.

“The drill cores will provide the most detailed record of the climate history of the Ross Sea region for the last 30,000 years—the time during which the coastal margin of the Antarctic ice sheet retreated following the last great ice age,” says Dr Bertler, by satellite phone from the camp on Roosevelt Island.

“I am thrilled with the team’s success, which has been many years in the planning—and has involved four summers of field work doing drill site surveys, setting up the drill system and camp, as well as the drilling itself.”

Analyses of the ice core, to be undertaken at the purpose-built National Ice Core Research Facility at GNS Science in 2013, will provide important new insights into how the Ross Sea region will respond to global warming, and the sediments from the base of the ice sheet might reveal what the region was like the last time Earth’s climate was as warm as it is today.

Director of the Antarctic Research Centre, Professor Tim Naish, received the news by satellite phone last night. “The team are obviously delighted—I am extremely proud of them for successfully obtaining one of most important climate archives from Antarctica to date.”

The ice drill itself was constructed by Antarctica Research Centre technologists Alex Pyne and Darcy Mandeno, working with Nelson engineering firm Pro-machining. The pair have more than 30 years experience in scientific drilling of sediments and ice in Antarctica.

The logistical support for the Roosevelt Island Ice Coring Expedition (RICE) has been provided by Antarctica New Zealand, costing more than $1million per year.

Antarctica New Zealand Chief Executive Lou Sanson says that the support of such a major field operation nearly 1,000kms from New Zealand’s Scott Base has been challenging and complex.

“This is a marquee project for Antarctica New Zealand, and we are very proud of the success of Nancy Bertler and her team.”

The ice cores will be transported back to McMurdo station by air, and then by cargo ship to New Zealand in March. A 50-strong science team from New Zealand, Australia, the USA, Germany, Denmark, China, Korea, Sweden and the United Kingdom will meet in at the GNS Science ice core facility in Lower Hutt to sample the cores in May.

The team will remain at the Roosevelt Island Camp for another six weeks, as they pack up and move equipment back to Scott Base ready for their return to New Zealand.

“We are in high spirits, and can’t wait to get started on analysing the more than 100,000 samples that will be taken from the ice cores,” says Bertler.


© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


Postnatal Depression: 'The Thief That Steals Motherhood' - Alison McCulloch

Post-natal depression is a sly and cruel illness, described by one expert as ‘the thief that steals motherhood’, it creeps up on its victims, hiding behind the stress and exhaustion of being a new parent, catching many women unaware and unprepared. More>>


DIY: Kiwi Ingenuity And Masking Tape Saves Chick

Kiwi ingenuity and masking tape has saved a Kiwi chick after its egg was badly damaged endangering the chick's life. The egg was delivered to Kiwi Encounter at Rainbow Springs in Rotorua 14 days ago by a DOC worker with a large hole in its shell and against all odds has just successfully hatched. More>>


Trade: Key To Lead Mission To India; ASEAN FTA Review Announced

Prime Minister John Key will lead a trade delegation to India next week, saying the pursuit of a free trade agreement with the protectionist giant is "the primary reason we're going" but playing down the likelihood of early progress. More>>



MYOB: Digital Signatures Go Live

From today, Inland Revenue will begin accepting “digital signatures”, saving businesses and their accountants a huge amount of administration time and further reducing the need for pen and paper in the workplace. More>>

Oil Searches: Norway's Statoil Quits Reinga Basin

Statoil, the Norwegian state-owned oil company, has given up oil and gas exploration in Northland's Reinga Basin, saying the probably of a find was 'too low'. More>>


Modern Living: Auckland Development Blowouts Reminiscent Of Run Up To GFC

The collapse of property developments in Auckland is "almost groundhog day" to the run-up of the global financial crisis in 2007/2008 as banks refuse to fund projects due to blowouts in construction and labour costs, says John Kensington, the author of KPMG's Financial Institutions Performance Survey. More>>


Health: New Zealand's First ‘No Sugary Drinks’ Logo Unveiled

New Zealand’s first “no sugary drinks logo” has been unveiled at an event in Wellington... It will empower communities around New Zealand to lift their health and wellbeing and send a clear message about the damage caused by too much sugar in our diets. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news