201314 Antarctic season highlights

Dr Mark Curran holds up a one-metre length of ice core.
Dr Mark Curran at Aurora Basin with part of the main ice core. (Photo: Tony Fleming)
Environment Minister Greg Hunt surrounded by media in front of the orange icebreaker ship Aurora Australis on Hobart's waterfront.New Chair of the Committee for Environmental Protection, Mr Ewan McIvor

5th June 2014

Australia’s 2013–14 Antarctic season was one of considerable challenge and outstanding achievement.

The season’s major project, ice core drilling at Aurora Basin North, was highly successful, with scientists drilling about two tonnes of ice core sections spanning a 2000 year climate history.

Thick sea ice at the beginning and end of the season caused shipping delays and issues with resupplying Mawson station.

Australia’s icebreaker, Aurora Australis, was involved in the rescue of passengers on the stricken Russian vessel Akademik Shokalskiy.

Also this season, the Federal Government announced it would fund the acquisition of a new Australian icebreaker which is expected to be ready for operation in 2019.

Australian Antarctic Division Senior Policy Adviser, Ewan McIvor, was elected Chair of the Committee for Environmental Protection (CEP), the international advisory body responsible for protecting the fragile Antarctic environment.

2014 also marked the end of Australasian Antarctic expedition celebrations.

[Video]

201314 Antarctic season highlights

Video transcript

Glaciologist – Dr Tas van Ommen

The Aurora Basin project was a major ice coring project in East Antarctica to deliver us a long, 2000 year detail climate record form a part of Antarctica where we really had little or no information about past climate.

We do need climate records that go one or two thousand years or in this ballpark because they are used to test climate models of the past. And 2000 years gives us a nice long period to look at the climate before human interference began with the emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. So we end up with over a thousand years of natural variability, seeing how it responds to changes in the sun’s output, seeing it how it responds to volcanoes and how the natural system works and that really important for understanding the changes that we are seeing now.

We got about 500 metres of ice in the main ice cores and we also took some shallow cores which will be about 30–50 metres, and on the traverse with the French we also recovered some shallow cores to another 20 metres so ice core scientists in France, Australia, and the US are going to be busy for the next few years really digesting what we are going to get out of Aurora Basin.

Minister for the Environment – Hon. Greg Hunt MP

The commonwealth government will fund the acquisition of a new icebreaker. This is critical national infrastructure. It is the largest single investment in Australia’s Antarctic research and logistics venture in Australian history. It would be an investment of hundreds of hundreds of millions dollars.  It should be delivered by 2019.

Australian Antarctic Division Senior Policy Adviser – Ewan McIvor

The CEP is the Committee for Environmental Protection that’s established under the environmental protocol to the Antarctic Treaty. The committee is an advisory body to the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting, which is the decision making body.

The Committee has a mandate to provide advice on all environmental issues facing Antarctica and there is quite a spectrum. Current priority issues range from preventing the introduction of non-native species, developing the Antarctic protected areas systems and dealing with the environmental implications of climate change in Antarctica.

Casey station leader – Ali Dean

I'm Ali Dean and I'm going down to Casey as the station leader.

I've worked in the Antarctic for quite a few years now, first as a geologist so going down over the summer months, using the stations as a staging post.

During those times on station, I became fascinated with multi-faceted, really active places with a lot of interesting people.

This will be seventh winter as station leader in Antarctica and I'm just as excited about this trip as I was about that first one.

Macquarie Island station leader – Ivor Harris

My name's Ivor Harris and I'll be going down to Macquarie Island station for the coming winter.

My position on station will be station leader which is a role I've been lucky enough to be selected to do three times previously.

I've got a broad background in the biological sciences but also in the military.

The people that go to Antarctica to work, go there because they really, really want to be there. They're selected as being very, very capable and experienced at their roles and as a general rule, it's a very easy job to manage the community and look after people because they're great people.

Davis station leader – Narelle Campbell

My name is Narelle Campbell and I am heading off to Davis this winter.

My career has led down a number of paths. I've now been south three times and I'm coming up to my fourth time.

What I am looking forward to most this coming season is again experiencing Antarctica, it’s the wildlife, it’s the scenery and the community. Watching a community gel together, work closely together, have fun.

Mawson station leader – Steve Robertson

My name is Steve Robertson and I am the incoming station leader at Mawson station.

I am currently a sergeant with Victoria police so I’ve worked in busy metropolitan police stations in Melbourne. I've worked up in country police stations and remote police stations as well.

The role of the station leader for me is two-fold I guess. You’ve got your science, and in order to support the science you’ve got your infrastructure: your diesos and so on, and so forth. In addition to that, you’ve got the other part of the role being the community and my role is to make that gel, as well as this cohesive community.

This page was last modified on 5 June 2014.