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

 

New Zealanders out to uncover icy secrets

15 November 2017

New Zealanders out to uncover icy secrets.

A University of Otago-led research team is about to embark on an epic Antarctic research expedition as part of efforts to better understand how the Ross Ice Shelf (RIS) will respond to global warming.

The multi-disciplinary and international team includes researchers from Otago, Victoria University of Wellington, Canterbury University, Waikato University, NIWA, GNS Science, Georgia Tech in the US, and the Chinese Polar Research Institute.

In mid-November, the team will join with engineers who have already journeyed to the field site, 350 kilometers away from Scott Base. The engineering team are assembling a New Zealand-built drill that will use hot water to bore through hundreds of metres of glacial ice to access the ocean and sea floor beneath their remote camp.

The RIS is Earth’s largest expanse of floating glacial ice. It is fed by glaciers flowing from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and through the Transantarctic Mountains and by new snow falling on its surface. The ice is continually moving, flowing away from the land and toward the open ocean, eventually breaking off as icebergs. The ice is moving nearly 2 metres per day at the drilling site.

Project scientists first visited the site two years ago, when they used seismic techniques to image the sea floor and installed a weather station to monitor conditions. A team of 3 returned last year to recover data from the weather station.

This year’s team is much larger, a 5-person drilling crew, 24 scientists, and 3 Antarctica New Zealand camp staff. The programme of work will last a lot longer, about 65 days all together. Not everybody will be at the camp at the same time. Two overland traverses are moving the heaviest equipment to the site while most of the scientists and smaller gear will fly via Twin Otter. The phased approach will help the team to manage resources and the camp’s impact.

The research is just as complicated as the large team implies. Once the drilling crew has created the borehole, oceanographers and geophysicists will install instruments for long-term monitoring of conditions in the ocean cavity and the ice shelf. Geologists will lower a core barrel down the hole to sample sediments on the sea floor. A remotely-operated submarine on a 3 kilometer long tether will dive down the borehole to observe ocean, sea floor, and ice conditions in the area all around the drill site. Back at the surface, an atmospheric physicist will install a regional network of smart weather stations and geophysicists and surveyors will use ice penetrating radars and acoustic techniques to image internal structures of the ice shelf.

The field team is led and coordinated by Professor Christina Hulbe and Dr Christian Ohneiser at the University of Otago. Professor Hulbe says the overall goal of the research programme is to understand the processes and ice/ocean interactions that matter most for change in the region. “We know that in the past, climate warming caused ice shelf and ice sheet retreat in the Ross Sea. Now we need to find out more about the actual physical processes and the rates at which they act. That knowledge is one of the keys to making better projections of future change”. She also emphasizes that every member of the team is a leader. “Our team seems large, but really, it’s as small as it can be. We are working at the limits of what is possible, as efficiently and effectively as we can. It’s an exciting place to work; the environment, the science, and the people are all excellent.”

Dr Ohneiser adds “The RIS is a major interface between the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) and the Southern Ocean. At the moment the RIS appears to be stable but we don’t know for sure but we do know that it has changed quickly in the past. We need data from the places that are still covered by ice… not just at the easy to get to places around the edge.”

The Otago scientific team includes Professor Hulbe, Dr Ohneiser, Kelly Gragg, Dr Sergio Morales, Dr Federico Baltar, Lisa Craw, Holly Still, Martin Forbes.


Victoria University of Wellington Scientists Dr Gavin Dunbar and Georgia Grant, Dan Lowry and drilling crew Alex Pyne (chief driller), Jane Chewings, Hedley Berge, Jeff Rawson, Darcy Mandeno.

Canterbury University scientist Dr Adrian McDonald, NIWA scientists Dr Craig Stevens and Mike Brewer, Waikato University scientist Shelly Brandt, Auckland University Scientists Dr Jennifer Eccles and Franz Josef Lutz.

And international collaborators Dr Britney Schmidt and her team (NASA, Georgia Tech, USA) and Prof Wei Luo (China)

The team will be joined by a journalist from New Zealand Geographic.

Instagram address: https://instagram.com/the_ross_ice_shelf_programme/

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

National: National Backs Businesses With $10k JobStart

National will provide a $10,000 cash payment to businesses that hire additional staff as part of our commitment to keeping New Zealanders in jobs, National Party Leader Todd Muller and Finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith have announced. Our JobStart ... More>>

ALSO:

DIY Law: Government Exempts Some Home Improvements From Costly Consents

Homeowners, builders and DIYers will soon have an easier time making basic home improvements as the Government scraps the need for consents for low-risk building work such as sleep-outs, sheds and carports – allowing the construction sector ... More>>

ALSO:

Media Awards: The New Zealand Herald Named Newspaper Of The Year, Website Of The Year At Voyager Media Awards

The New Zealand Herald has been labelled a “powerhouse news operation” as it claims the two biggest prizes – Newspaper of the Year and Website of the Year – along with many individual awards at the 2020 Voyager Media Awards Website of the ... More>>

ALSO:

ASB Bank: ASB Takes The Lead Again With New Low Home Loan Interest Rate

ASB has moved again to support its customers, cutting a number of home loan rates, including the two-year special rate to a new low of 2.69% p.a. Craig Sims, ASB executive general manager Retail Banking says the reduced rate will be welcome news for many ... More>>

ALSO:

Nathan Hoturoa Gray: The Problems With Testing And Case Statistics For Covid-19

To begin to understand disease transmission in a country requires adequate testing of your population with properly vetted, accurate tests. As the world struggles to find what 'adequate percentage' of the population is necessary, (estimates predict ... More>>

ALSO:

RNZ: Fletcher Building To Lay Off 1000 Staff In New Zealand

The construction company will cut around 10 percent of its workforce as it struggles with the fallout from Covid-19. More>>

ALSO:

Can Pay, Won't Pay: Cashflow Moves Urged

Government Ministers are asking significant private enterprises to adopt prompt payment practices in line with the state sector, as a way to improve cashflow for small businesses. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Why We Should Legally Protect The Right To Work From Home

For understandable reasons, the media messaging around Level Two has been all about “freedom” and “celebration”, but this is not necessarily going to be a universal experience. When it comes to workplace relations, Level Two is just as likely to ... More>>

ALSO:



Auckland Airport: Thousands Of Kiwis Travelling For Queen’s Birthday Weekend


Confidence in domestic travel is beginning to steadily ramp up, with thousands of Kiwis travelling within New Zealand for Queen’s Birthday.
Nearly 400 flights will be operating to and from Auckland Airport over the long weekend... More>>

ALSO:

Science Media Centre: Understanding 5G Concerns – Expert Q&A


Recent attacks on cell phone towers have brought concerns over the rollout of 5G technology into sharp relief.
While scientific research has consistently shown that the technology does not adversely affect human health, public concerns about its impact have spread around the world, fueled in part by growing misinformation online. The SMC asked experts to comment... More>>

ALSO:


Trade: Record Monthly Surplus As Imports Dive

Imports in April 2020 had their biggest fall since October 2009, resulting in a monthly trade surplus of $1.3 billion, Stats NZ said today. “This is the largest monthly trade surplus on record and the annual goods trade deficit is the lowest ... More>>

ALSO:


Media Blues: Stuff Chief Executive Buys Company For $1

Stuff chief executive Sinead Boucher has purchased Stuff from its Australian owners Nine Entertainment for $1.
The chief executive was returning the company to New Zealand ownership, with the sale is expected to be completed by 31 May.
"Our plan is to transition the ownership of Stuff to give staff a direct stake in the business as shareholders," Boucher said in a statement.... More>>

ALSO:

RNZ: Bar Reopening Night 'much, Much Quieter'

Pubs and bars are reporting a sluggish first day back after the lockdown, with the fear of going out, or perhaps the joy of staying home, thought to be a reason for the low numbers. More>>

ALSO:

Stats NZ: New Zealand’s Population Passes 5 Million

New Zealand's resident population provisionally reached 5 million in March 2020, Stats NZ said today. More>>

NIWA: Seven Weeks Of Clearing The Air Provides Huge Benefits: Scientist

Seven weeks of lockdown has provided evidence of how pollution can vanish overnight with benefits for the environment and individuals, says NIWA air quality scientist Dr Ian Longley. Dr Longley has been monitoring air quality in Auckland, Wellington ... More>>

ALSO:

Government: Milestone In Cash Flow Support To SMEs

A significant package of tax reforms will be pushed through all stages in Parliament today to throw a cash flow lifeline to small businesses. More>>

ALSO: