Antarctic ice man and air transport designer retires

28 July 2003

A former manager of the Australian Antarctic Division's (AAD) Glaciology Program and the principal architect of Australia's Antarctic Air Transport Project retires today.

Dr Jo Jacka was instrumental in moving the glaciology program from Melbourne to Hobart in 1992/93 and has spent the past 33 years delving into many areas of ice including icebergs, sea ice, crystal structure from ice cores and the study of ice flow.

AAD Director, Dr Tony Press, said that Dr Jacka had found new information essential to the development and continued improvement of the mathematical models of ice flow and of changes in the size and shape of the Antarctic Ice Sheet.

"He has also carried out climate studies of warming at Antarctic and Southern Ocean stations resulting in around 60 published scientific papers published on this work.

Dr Jacka was Manager of the AAD's Glaciology Program for 10 years. He also made a major contribution to other AAD activities, acting on occasions as Chief Scientist and Assistant Director of the Policy Branch and was involved in staff selection of scientific and expedition personnel.

Dr Press said that Jo Jacka had also been a pivotal player in the initial planning for the establishment of the Antarctic Cooperative Research Centre and the successful relocation of the Glaciology Program from Melbourne to Hobart.

"However, Jo's other most recent notable role was in the development and implementation of the AAD's new Air Transport Project for the delivery and movement of expedition personnel to and within Antarctica. It was his expertise and understanding of the behaviour of Antarctic ice that helped realise Australia's project, which is now well on track," said Dr Press.

Jo Jacka's retirement from the AAD will mark the end of an era in Australia's Antarctic program. His father, Dr Fred Jacka, was an auroral physicist with the Division from 1948 and a member of the first wintering expedition on Heard Island that year. For most of his years at the AAD until his retirement in 1964 he was Chief Scientist then went on to become Director of the Mawson Institute for Antarctic Research at Adelaide University.

Dr Jo Jacka followed his father to the AAD in 1970 and in its 55 year history there have been just 6 years when a Jacka has not been on staff. It is believed that Jo was the first second generation Australian to visit Antarctica with the Australian program.

And the tradition of ice in the Jacka genes continues with Jo's son, Kieran, a research meteorologist having twice travelled south and being the first third generation Australian to do so.