Antarctic video gallery
Davis research station 60th anniversary
Under the sea ice in Antarctica
Glenn Johnstone - biologist
We’re diving under the sea ice in O’Brien Bay, south of Casey research station in East Antarctica.
This is a thriving, colourful world filled with sponges, sea cucumbers, sea spiders, worms, algae and starfish.
Here we are at 30 m below the surface, where the water temperature is a chilly −1.5°C year round, and the sea is covered by ice that is a metre and a half thick for more than 10 months of the year. This ice provides protection from Antarctica’s harsh weather conditions and a stable marine environment that allows biodiversity to flourish.
It is important biodiversity like you see here that is the focus of our research into the effects of climate change and ocean acidification.
Here at the Australian Antarctic Division, we are working hard to ensure the continent remains valued, protected and understood.
Work and live in Antarctica. Apply today!
Deep-field air drop supports Antarctic science
Eye in the sky - Drone footage from Voyage 1 2016/17
Flying Krill video
Rob King – krill biologist
The research we’re doing is all about understanding what’s actually happening in the Southern Ocean. While we have closed the life cycle in the lab, and we can rear the eggs and the offspring in the lab, it could be different using eggs from the actual Southern Ocean that have received the nutrition that the animals are receiving in the Southern Ocean as opposed to the lab population.
If we can catch krill going into Casey station on the Aurora Australis, we’ll unload them into IBCs which are 1,000-litre bulk liquid carriers. When the flight comes in, they’ll be taken out of here, loaded onto sleds, and then wrapped in a thermal blanket so that they won’t freeze on the way up to the airport. They’ve got to make a three-hour drive on a sled up into temperatures that are minus-20 or minus-30, so this is going way out of the comfort zone for krill, and then try and fly those back using the C-17. We return krill to Australia from the Southern Ocean within about a day-and-a-half of being caught. That’ll bring perfect quality eggs to the laboratory in Hobart, which is something we’ve never had before; wild reared eggs.
We need to study these krill because they’re the principal part of the Antarctic ecosystem. They’re like the keystone species. They feed on 250 species of plants in the ocean, the phytoplankton, and then they pass that energy up to all the charismatic megafauna; the things like whales and seals and penguins. If something happens to the krill population and they’re not there, all of these vertebrate predators are affected, so it’s very important to understand it, especially with climate change occurring now.
2016-17 Australian Antarctic Station Leaders
Paul Ross – Casey research station leader
I’m actually quite humbled by the experience and I’m really looking forward to it. It’s my first time on the continent and it’s something that I’ve wanted to do for dozens of years.
I was attracted to apply because I’m interested in complex leadership situations. I’ve spent the last 31-odd years with Victoria Police. Probably the last 10 years, I’ve mainly been involved in the emergency management and the operation of complex police operations in terms of public order and crime investigation.
Some of the challenges we might be facing will obviously be the isolation, the distance from Australia, how the expeditioners might react to that isolation. That may be a little bit challenging.
The summer period for Casey this year will be quite busy with a fairly tight aviation schedule, so it’ll be a challenge to ensure that occurs within the season and that we can deliver on the programs that the Antarctic Division is committed to.
Kirsten Le Mar – Davis research station leader
I’m almost tragically excited as we’re heading south. It’s been quite a while since I’ve been down south and this is my dream job. It’s like my career’s come full circle and now I can go and take other people down there, take care of them and let them have an extraordinary time.
This has been a bit of a long term project. I’ve always wanted to be station leader. I went down as a scientist 21 years ago to Davis, to work on Weddell seals. Antarctica’s quite addictive, so I have spent quite a lot of time down there; spent about 12 years doing tourism.
Some of the challenges that’ll come up in the winter will be people being isolated and lonely, missing members from home, even just getting on and being compatible with your co-workers, and living and working in your work environment. Probably working in cold environments as well, so just physically managing the environment.
There are many components that attract you to Antarctica. There’s the physical beauty; it’s quite extraordinary, this blue icy landscape where people just don’t belong. The wildlife is extraordinary. The penguins are just magical.
Impact of East Antarctic glacial melt on sea-level rise
[Dr Ben Galton-Fenzi, Glaciologist]
We’ve got six weeks of time down there early in the season and we’re going to be flying out and deploying autonomous, phase-sensitive radio echo-sounding instruments and GPS on the surface of the Totten to measure the flow of the Totten, how fast it’s melting and hopefully how that’s going to be evolving over a season.
The Totten Glacier is one of the biggest glaciers in Antarctica. It drains the Aurora sub-glacial basin. A substantial proportion of that is grounded below sea level. It holds about 3.5 metres of potential sea-level rise.
Recent satellite observations have shown that the Totten Glacier has been changing. The surface elevation of it has actually been lowering over time and we now also understand that it’s very sensitive to oceanic conditions and so what we want to try to do is get a baseline understanding about how fast the glacier is flowing, what that variability is and then therefore we can project forward in time about how we expect it to change into the future.