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

 

NIWA scientists working under the ice in Antarctica


One of NIWA's specialist divers attaching a chamber under the ice in Antarctica during the first phase of the ocean acidification research.
Photo: Peter Marriott.

MEDIA RELEASE

MONDAY, OCTOBER 6, 2014

NIWA scientists working under the ice in Antarctica

NIWA marine ecologists, including specialist divers, are heading south shortly for the second stage in a range of experiments that take place under the ice in Antarctica.

The experiments involve divers placing specially made chambers on the underside of the ice at Granite Harbour to measure the effects of ocean acidification and warming on sea ice flora and fauna.

In two weeks' time an eight-person team will head to the ice for a month. They will camp on the ice at Granite Harbour, about 150km from Scott Base, for the duration of the experiments.
All the equipment needed for living and working out of tents will be taken by wagon train across the ice from Scott Base, a journey that takes about 24 hours.

Expedition leader and marine ecologist Vonda Cummings said Antarctica New Zealand support staff will set up the camp and melt holes in the ice to enable the divers to access the sea and attach the chambers.

“Granite Harbour has got really good first year sea ice so there are great algal concentrations under the ice with no bumps or cracks that might confound our chamber results.

“It’s also got nice soft sediment underneath which is great for looking at the sea floor at the same time,” Dr Cummings said.

The chambers, designed by NIWA marine ecologist Neill Barr, measure the effects of specific changes on ecosystem processes such as primary production by algae, nutrient dynamics and the delivery of food from the sea ice to the sea floor.

The temperature and acidity of the seawater in the chambers can be manipulated and controlled to determine how climate change and ocean acidification could affect this fragile ecosystem.

Last year, the team were based at Cape Evans where the chambers were used for the first time.

“It was basically a trial to see if we could get good data out of them,” Dr Cummings said.

“They worked really well and were pretty easy to deploy but this time we want to try and do things better. We will be adding a few more instruments to measure a more things but will use the same design.”

The water temperature is about -1.9oC which limits divers to about 40 minutes under the ice at any one time.

The team must radio Scott Base daily to check in but other than that, there is no communication access.

“People can communicate with us through Scott Base if they need to but there is no emailing or Skype.”

Dr Cummings and her team are all experienced at conducting field work at Antarctica and know what to expect.

“It’s just a different way of working; you learn to cope with the cold and we’re working out of tents so there are challenges. We have no idea of what the weather will do – usually there’s a snow storm or two every season, which is not particularly nice but you just stay in your tent and don’t go far.”

A couple of the team members will travel with the wagon train across the ice with the others flying in by helicopter a few days later.

The research, led by Drs Cummings and Drew Lohrer, is funded by the Royal Society of New Zealand’s Marsden Fund and NIWA, with logistical support from Antarctica New Zealand. Analysis of the experiments will take place next year.

A second group of NIWA scientists will travel to Antarctica later in the year to install and maintain atmospheric measuring equipment.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Government: New Year Border Exception For Seasonal Workers In The Horticulture And Wine Industries

2000 additional RSE workers to enter New Zealand early next year employers must pay these workers at least $22.10 an hour employers will cover costs of managed isolation for the RSE workers RSE workers will be paid the equivalent of 30 hours work a week ... More>>

ALSO:

Grey Power: Is Disappointed To Learn Of More Bank Closures

Many older people are being left without essential services because of cost cutting and the march of modern technology. It is now expected that most banking transactions can occur via the internet or telephone. Jan Pentecost, President of the Grey Power ... More>>

ALSO:

Economy: Supply Chain On Brink Of Overload Says National Road Carriers

The New Zealand supply chain is on the brink of overload and it looks like the upcoming peak imports season may push it over the edge says National Road Carriers Association (NRC) CEO David Aitken. “Worldwide supply chains are in disarray,” says Mr Aitken. ... More>>

Stats NZ: Annual Goods Trade Surplus At 28-Year High

New Zealand’s annual goods trade surplus reached a 28-year high of $2.2 billion as imports tumbled in the year ended October 2020, Stats NZ said today. “This is the largest annual surplus since the July 1992 year, driven mainly by much lower ... More>>

ComCom: How Real Is That Bargain?

The Commerce Commission urges retailers and consumers to think hard about the bargains being offered as ‘Black Friday’ and Christmas draw near. Black Friday has now overtaken Boxing Day in terms of retail spending, according to data from electronic ... More>>

Stats NZ: Births And Deaths: Year Ended September 2020

Births and deaths releases provide statistics on the number of births and deaths registered in New Zealand, and selected fertility and mortality rates. Key facts For the year ended September 2020: 57,753 live births and 32,670 deaths ... More>>

ALSO:


Forest & Bird: Kākāpō Wins Bird Of The Year 2020

The nation has voted and Aotearoa New Zealand has a new Bird of the Year. New Zealand’s moss-colored flightless parrot has climbed to the top-spot for the second time in Forest & Bird’s annual Te Manu Rongonui o Te Tau/Bird of the Year competition. ... More>>